New Delhi: When KP, the star player of the Daredevils, arrived at the Kotla the other day for a practise game, he felt a bit weird. It is strange, he said, to be occupying the visitors dressing room because the Kotla is our home and now, suddenly, you are on the other side as a guest.
The dressing room was not the only thing that was different for KP in Delhi. The weather too was a surprise, the freezing cold had him looking for woollens to protect himself. It is not the same as the IPL, he said with a sense of understatement. In London the other day he was playing with his kids in the park, but KP found the Delhi cold far more severe.
But KP likes Delhi, whether steaming hot or chilly cold, he is at home here. Fans love his aggressive brand of cricket, his dominance at the wicket and his star appeal. And what comes across clearly is he is one foreign cricketer who has wholeheartedly embraced the IPL and India.
With KP, there was another ex Daredevils person with the English team --bowling coach David Sekar spent two seasons at the Kotla before taking up his present assignment with the ECB. And when England played Delhi, Sekar made enquiries about Shikhar Dhawan, Pradeep Sangwan, Rajat Bhatia, Yogesh Nagar, Mithun Manhas all of whom had worked with him in the IPL.
In a way, getting players together and sharing cricket knowledge and expertise is a key part of the IPL. As it is there are no secrets in cricket anymore -- with live TV coverage-- and this process of best practices being adapted at different levels is fast tracked by the IPL. For youngsters, getting exposed to be best in the world , be it players or support staff, is priceless cricket education.
This apart, there is another, perhaps indirect, benefit of the IPL in terms of reducing sledging, building friendship and improving on-field player behaviour. KP and Sehwag were locked in a series against each other last month but they also spend 6 weeks playing together in the IPL. Likewise, David Warner handled a fiery Morne Morkel at Perth but both are on the starting eleven for Daredevils matches.
Sledging has reduced in international cricket and temperatures have dropped because players understand each other better. Of course this does not mean bad behaviour has been eliminated, the Big Bash recently saw a particularly ugly bust up between Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels. Maybe that would not have happened had they been on the same team somewhere, in some cricket league.
Note: The author's views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of NDTV.