The Betway ambassador, who will be commentating on the IPL, says that living in the bubble will be tough, but that there is still plenty to look forward to.
I’m heading out to the UAE to cover the IPL and it’s fair to say that I’m not expecting a standard IPL experience.
Of course, players and broadcasters are going to miss the atmosphere generated in India, but needs must. I think the television audiences will prove that the tournament is going ahead for the greater good.
The players have got to understand that they are an entertainment package and that they have to turn it on for viewers.
It will be difficult for certain individuals, though. The buzz can be what really gets you up for the game and everybody will have to find different ways of getting themselves going.
But, despite the strange circumstances, there’s going to be plenty to talk about once the tournament is up and running.
How will players cope in the bubble?
Other than the players who have featured in England over the last few months, the bubble experience is going to be new for everybody.
I have some experience of it and it’s a very difficult thing to do.
Travelling from the hotel to the cricket ground and back to the hotel, on loop, is going to get frustrating, and these guys are going to be doing it for quite a while.
Some players have pulled out already and it’s going to be interesting to see whether full squads are still intact by the end of the competition, or whether guys are going to succumb to the pressure of the bubble.
It’s going to be particularly hard being in Dubai, which is a beautiful place for golf, restaurants, nightlife, beaches and so on. Surviving two months of a high-pressured environment, while trying to do your best on the cricket field, will be grinding.
I think there’s a chance it will be a bit of a slog for some of the broadcasters, too!
Excited about the young Indian talent
It’s always exciting to watch some of the incredible young talent that comes out of India during the IPL.
One that I can’t wait to see again is Shubman Gill, who plays for Kolkata Knight Riders, the fourth-favourites to win this year’s competition in the latest IPL betting.
He is a young opening batsman who I thought was very unlucky to miss out on the India squad for the World Cup in England after a brilliant 2019 IPL. He averaged more than 30 as a 19-year-old during that competition.
I think he’s definitely somebody that we will be watching on our television screens for a long time.
He’s got all the shots. He can play classical cricket, but he has the ability to turn it on and hit sixes at will.
He’s young, entertaining and I think he’s got a bright future.
How will MS Dhoni fare?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his international retirement a few weeks ago, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he goes in this competition.
I know how passionate he is, how dedicated he is and how much he loves the Chennai Super Kings.
But, after this long break from cricket, and everything that’s been associated with it, it’s difficult to know how he will be feeling. It might have refreshed him and set him up positively, or it might have had a negative influence on his game. I don’t think it will be somewhere between the two.
Will this be his last IPL? And how is he going to go out if it is? Maybe he can play for a few more years, but it’s something we’ll have to watch out for over the next few months.
Whatever his thoughts are about the future, I know they won’t affect his captaincy. He’s a pretty cool guy, very unassuming and he enjoys going under the radar.
Whether he can still produce those performances as the match-winner, the finisher, for CSK will be very interesting to find out.
I’m rooting for the Delhi Capitals
The Delhi Capitals are a favourite of mine. I had my best IPL years at Delhi.
I love the ownership structure, and I am still very close to them now. I also had some of my best innings with Delhi and enjoyed a great rapport with the fans of the franchise.
I’d really love them to turn a corner and for everybody to fire this year.
They’ve got Ricky Ponting as their coach, Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada as their overseas bowlers, and some very exciting Indian talent on their books.
I want them to win it.
RCB will be fascinating to watch again
As ever, Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the biggest IPL talking points.
They are always the team to watch, mainly because of that partnership between Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, which we all expect so much from.
It’s baffling that they underperform so often and that they have never won the tournament. They were my first IPL team and nothing felt like it was wrong when I was there from 2009-10.
They’ve had amazing players – they even had Chris Gayle there, when he was knocking them all over the park. It’s strange that they haven’t been able to get their hands on that trophy.
Things might go differently for them this year, with Mike Hesson coming in to work alongside Simon Katich on the coaching staff. They need Hesson to have the Midas touch to get them over the line.
With Kohli and De Villiers, and now new signing Aaron Finch, everybody knows that RCB can get the runs, but are they going to get the wickets they desperately need?
Dale Steyn can hopefully get their bowling attack going, alongside Adam Zampa.