The Indian Premier League is the most lucrative T20 franchise league in the world, offering millions of dollars to the world’s best ball bashers and miserly bowlers. Many cricketers across the globe dream about playing in it one day.
West Indies all-rounder Romario Shepherd is no different.
The Guyanese fast bowler and right-handed batsman, who dazzled with the bat with an unbeaten 44 in the second T20 international between the West Indies and England yesterday, has put his name in the last three IPL auctions but is yet to be awarded a contract.
Speaking in a press conference today, Shepherd said the dream, which at this point is very close to reality, is still alive.
“It’s a great platform for any youngster. Many people dream to go to the IPL and I’m no different. It’s something that I’ve dreamed about for a very long time. My name was in the draft for the last three years so this year I’m definitely looking forward to it,” he said.
In the midst of a five-match T20I series with England at the moment, Shepherd says his full focus is on helping the West Indies win.
“I’m trying my best to get there but, at the same time, trying my best to help us win this series. I try to focus on what is at hand right now and try to put my all in there. Eventually, if an IPL contract comes that would be great for me but I try not to think about it while in the game,” Shepherd said.
The talented Guyanese allrounder had struggled early on in his innings, scoring only one single from his first seven balls and failing to pick Adil Rashid out of the hand, but immediately targeted Dawson when he came on to bowl the 13th over. He was one of only a handful of batters to clear the longer boundary – around 90 metres towards midwicket – and his clean hitting left England hanging on by their fingertips.
“When I went out, the coach told me to take a few balls,” he explained. “Then when I got out there the ball was spinning and Rashid got me. I was like one off six balls, one off seven balls, so I was kind of on the back foot.
“When I saw Liam come on for his first over, I said to myself I would try and take him down. I hit him for two sixes in that over so that gave me a push-start there. Eventually I started flowing better at the crease.
“It plays with your mind to see that one side is very short and one side is very long. Eventually when Jordan came in that over, I had no choice but to try and take on the long boundary. I know as long as I hit them well, the boundary don’t matter.”
Akeal Hosein hit two fours and three sixes off Saqib Mahmood’s final over to keep the game tense until the final ball, but was aggrieved that Mahmood’s first legitimate ball was not given as a wide, having appeared to reach him past the tramline. But Shepherd said that Joel Wilson, the umpire, was “only human” and that West Indies were more concerned about a sloppy night in the field than his decision-making.
“I told Akeal: ‘don’t worry about it, you can hit the next couple for six and he can bowl a no-ball or another wide,’” Shepherd said. “The umpire missed that one, but he’s just human – hopefully he can correct his mistake in the upcoming games. I think that was a wide but he didn’t think so.
“Yesterday [Sunday] was a total off-day: we didn’t field well, we didn’t catch well. Those are some of the little things that [cost] us last night: we could have got them down to less than 170 but we fielded poorly.”
Reacting to the contest’s unexpected ending, England’s player-of-the-match Moeen Ali admitted that the power in West Indies’ batting line-up was “very scary”, and Shepherd agreed with the sentiment.
“It must be frightening for other teams to know that our No. 10 batsman can do that,” he said. “For us, it’s a very big confidence booster for us to know that we bat this deep. We showed how well we can bat and we can get ourselves out of a situation from nowhere.
“We just need to focus a little more on the powerplay and the middle phase, because the back end will take care of itself. We have a lot of power at the back end. We have to continue to work and hopefully we can pull off something special and win this series.”
Shepherd has so far played 11 T20 Internationals with 100 runs and eight wickets to his name.
The IPL player auction is scheduled to take place on February 12 and 13 and he will have another opportunity to enhance his reputation when the West Indies and England square off in the third of five T20 internationals in Barbados on Wednesday. (SportsMax/Cricinfo)