Old men out: Look who is waiting to ride gravy trainhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/old-men-out-look-who-is-waiting-to-ride-gravy-train/

Old men out: Look who is waiting to ride gravy train

For many it might still be the most memorable of all ODIs.

For many it might still be the most memorable of all ODIs. But for one Australian fast bowler in particular,the record-shattering contest in Johannesburg almost five years ago,where South Africa chased down 435,ended up being a life-altering nightmare. And Mick Lewis certainly doesn’t like being reminded about that day at the Wanderers where his international career ended in ignominy after the seamer conceded the maximum number of runs ever—113 in 10 over — in an ODI.

By next season,he had been dropped by his state side and been forced to announce his retirement from all forms of cricket. The Western Australian state team aka the Retravision Warriors,however,decided to bring the specialist ‘death bowler’ back from the dead this season and provided Lewis with an unlikely shot at cricketing redemption by offering him a contract to represent their team in the Australian domestic T20 competition — the Big Bash.

And while he made a good beginning in Western Australian colours by picking up a wicket with his first ball; by Sunday the 36-year-old Victorian,who goes under the hammer along with 349 other active and retired cricketers from around the world for the 2011 IPL Auction,might just have earned himself not only a fat pay cheque but more importantly a new lease in life.

Former West Indian captain Brian Lara,at 42,clearly will be the standout name leading a bunch of high-profile and proven performers seeking a return-ticket to superstardom on the auction-list this time around. But under the surface linger a number of cricketers from diverse backgrounds — both cricketing and otherwise — such as Lewis,whose lives might just change forever depending upon the choices made by the 10 IPL franchises over the weekend in Bangalore.


And not surprisingly,Lewis is certainly looking forward to the grand auction.

“The Warriors decided to take a chance with me and I proved my worth. I still bowl at 140-plus and can certainly offer a lot to any franchise interested in me. In fact my good mates,Warnie (Warne) and Darren Berry,both of Rajasthan Royals,asked me to register for the auction as they didn’t think there were too many quality ‘death bowlers’ around in the IPL,” says Lewis.

During its first three seasons,the IPL not only earned renown as the perfect platform for budding youngsters to showcase their wares on a big stage,the T20 extravaganza also proved to be an exclusive theatre for many to achieve a variety of unfulfilled cricketing dreams.

Ricardo Powell,for one,would certainly be hoping that he gets a chance to add his name to that list. The former West Indian batsman faded away into oblivion after a sensational start to his career. And it was only three months ago that the 32-year-old Jamaican announced his return to cricket after a four-year hiatus. The list also includes the likes of Floyd Reifer,Bryce McGain,Anthony McGrath,Tino Best and Paul Franks,who despite early potential failed to make the most of their limited international appearances. Seasoned county cricket professionals like Darren Stevens and Simon Cook too will be hopeful that their battle-hardened reputations at domestic level will attract some IPL team owner.

Nathan Rimmington,a 28-year-old fast bowler from Queensland,however,believes that the IPL might be the next best thing for other middle-aged domestic cricketers like him,for whom international cricket remains an improbable dream.

“This is a huge weekend for me. Someone like Ryan Harris (his Queensland teammate) was in the same situation as me before he got his IPL chance,and look where he is now,” says Rimmington.

While the swing-bowler from Brisbane reveals that he will be away playing club cricket on the auction days,his wife will be entrusted with keeping an eye on the developments in India.

Lewis too expects to hear ‘some good news’ when he lands in Sydney on Sunday for a domestic T20 match. Having spent the last four years defending that calamitous spell at Johannesburg,he is now hoping that the IPL gives him a chance to create a new cricketing identity for himself.