Some have raw talent; others hail from cricketing outposts. A look at some of the newcomers who can sparkle in IPL-13.
Tim David (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Playing role: All-rounder
He’s a hot T20 franchise property, but had to trek a circuitous route to fulfill his cricketing ambitions. Repeatedly snubbed by his home state, Western Australia, David chose to play for the country of his birth, Singapore. He became a spontaneous superstar with his big-hitting prowess, which didn’t escape the eyes of the Big Bash League scouts. So before playing a single first-class or List A game, David fetched a Perth Scorchers contract. More lucrative deals followed; Lahore Qalandars, St. Lucia Kings, Hobart Hurricanes, Southern Brave (the Hundred champions), and now Royal Challengers Bangalore. In between, he bargained a limited-overs cricket deal with Surrey.
He embodies all the virtues the shortest format requires: The knack to tee off from the get-go, the ability to sustain momentum – which he does with thunderous blows down the ground – and a strong and accurate throwing arm. David affected the game-changing run-out of Liam Livingstone in the Hundred final. He boasts a T20 strike rate of 154 in 61 games and an average of 36, which means he hits well and scores consistently.
Liam Livingstone (Rajasthan Royals)
Playing role: Batting all-rounder
He could bowl both leg-breaks and off-breaks, depending on whether the batsman is left or right-handed, but it’s his destructive batting that has made Livingstone a coveted franchise-cricket entity. He first hit the headlines — at 21, days after dropping out of university, saying he cannot focus on academics because of cricket — when he pillaged 350 off 138 balls (34 fours and 27 sixes) in a club game. Thereon, he climbed the rungs of the game swiftly, eventually making his England debut last year, despite their riches of all-round quality in the shorter formats.
Livingstone’s clean, straight-hitting expertise has many stalwarts in thrall. Andy Flower is convinced that he’s the hardest hitter of the cricket ball he had ever seen. His Lancashire teammate James Anderson calls him a frightening hitter. What could make him even more precious in the UAE is his ability to demolish spin, which he displayed by smacking back-to-back hundreds on a Lions tour to Sri Lanka a couple of years ago.
Hailing from the cricketing backwater of Cumbria, unstained by public-school upbringing, and with a homespun technique, Livingstone was told by several coaches that he would never play any form of competitive cricket. But he just kept hitting, and eventually proved them wrong.
Can’t wait to get back out there! 🙌👊 pic.twitter.com/83SJbu1xLl
— Liam Livingstone (@liaml4893) September 16, 2021
George Garton (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Playing role: Bowling all-rounder
A side-on freeze-frame of his follow-through resembles that of South Africa’s left-arm wrist-spinner Paul Adams, his body almost hugging the ground in the physical intensity of the action, his arms in a whirl. But Garton’s anything but a spinner, someone who consistently clocks above 90mph from an explosive leap from a relatively short run-up. He was earmarked for Test cricket, and picked as a standby for the Ashes 2017-18, but for a side strain, he picked when lifting his cricket kit from the airport carousel. He lost two years of progression but returned revitalised and with an eye on franchise cricket.
Garton joined the T10 league, where he emerged as the highest wicket-taker. He threw his hat in the Hundred ring, where too he was in irrepressible form, propelling Southern Brave to the title with his 10 wickets.
While he has not lost any of his speed and the rare gift to seam the ball back into the right-hander, the Sussex man has added more strings to his bow, the veritable T20 staple like slow bouncers and cutters. But it’s pace that thrills him, and it’s the pace that could be his USP on the dead tracks of the UAE.
Nathan Ellis (Punjab Kings)
Playing role: Pace bowler
The Tasmanian seamer has a gift of making grand first impressions. He produced a six-for on his Sheffield Shield debut, a five-for on Marsh Cup debut, before plucking a hat-trick in his first game for Australia in a T20 International against Bangladesh.
But Ellis had to work really hard to reach those platforms. For a long time, he thought it was the lack of thundering pace that stood between him and recognition in domestic cricket, for a while he thought it was his height (five-feet eleven) that mattered (or didn’t). He even deliberated on quitting cricket and taking up a full-time accounting job (he has a degree in commerce). But somehow, he persisted with cricket, even if it was difficult to make ends meet with part-time jobs as a labourer in Hobart, as a furniture removalist, and then as a teacher’s help in a school for boys with learning difficulties.
It was then that Tasmania coach Adam Griffith spotted him during a club game and invited him for trials. He was impressed by Ellis’ supple wrists and the ability to swing the Kookaburra ball on hard, dead tracks of Australia. He added a pinpoint yorker and a cleverly-disguised back-of-the-hand slower ball, shed his pace-height inferiority complex and began his real cricketing journey.
Glenn Phillips (Rajasthan Royals)
Country: New Zealand
Playing role: Wicketkeeper-batsman
Daniel Vettori calls him a total cricketer. A post-modern stroke-maker, a polished gloveman, an acrobatic slip-fielder and an efficient off-spinner who could bowl flat and skid the ball off the surface, a skill both his franchise and country would look to harness over the coming months in the UAE. But it’s Phillips’ batsmanship that is expected to make headlines. He has arrived in the desert with a spring of runs. In a Caribbean Premier League match, he cuffed nine sixes (and two fours) on his way to an unbeaten 80 from just 39 balls. His boundary-hitting instinct is immense — every fifth ball he faces is struck for a six or four in T20 cricket, in which he brandishes a strike rate of 144.
Now that Jos Buttler is unavailable for this leg, Phillips could get an extended opportunity to set the six-hitting chart on fire. But he wants to create his own legacy. “The team has brought me in to do whatever role they need me to play, so it’s not really like I’m filling in Jos’ shoes, I’m probably filling in my own shoes and looking to create a legacy of my own rather than being a replacement.” And part of that legacy-making will include him turning his arm over.
Wanindu Hasaranga (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Country: Sri Lanka
Playing role: Spin bowling all-rounder
When Hasaranga was growing up, he wanted to turn the ball as precociously as his idol Muttiah Muralitharan. But he chose leg-spin and evolved into a modern-day, shorter-format exponent. A leg-spinner in the Rashid Khan mould, swapping flight and turn for flatness, control, skid and variations, confounding and frustrating batsmen with change of angles, pace and release points. The methods are working, as he is second to Tabraiz Shamsi in the ICC T20 bowlers’ rankings. Like Rashid, Hasaranga can open the bowling, apply the squeeze in the middle overs and stifle batsmen at the death. With a T20 economy rate of 6.39 and an average of 15, it’s a mystery why he had gone unsold in the auction. It took his three-wicket burst against India in July to catch the eyes of the franchise — there apparently was a four-way tussle to avail his services.
His utility is swelling — of late, he has evolved into Sri Lanka’s finisher with both bat and ball, filling the Thisara Perera role with aplomb. He speaks wisdom too: “Finishers are the ones with long careers and I want to be one among them.” No bigger window for that than the next two months.
Ben Dwarshuis (Delhi Capitals)
Playing role: Seamer
A couple of commentators in the BBL were tongue-twisting to correctly pronounce his Dutch surname. To them, he offered a simple solution: “They’re all legends so they can say it any way they want!” Earlier, it was his surname that caught the attention, then his moustaches, and now it’s his bowling that’s garnering admiration.
Not an express bowler, he is most reputed for his accuracy and cleverness, his yorker and cutters, the innate ability to second-guess a batsman’s mind, serenity under duress, and wicket-taking knack. Only Daniel Sams has taken more wickets than Dwarshuis over the past three BBL seasons, only Sams has taken more wickets at the death, and his economy rate of 6.62 in the Powerplays is the best during that period. And all of these, he does with a couple of screws and wires wrapped around his back after a succession of stress injuries. Like the other Dutch-Australian cricketer, Dirk Nannes, he is deliberating to turn up for the country of his origin, if the wait gets longer for an Australia cap.