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Update IPL has more 'funness' than international cricket - Rabada
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[Image: you-have-the-worlds-best-pla.jpg]

Watch enough IPL games and you cannot fail to see it: the big smiles, the bright eyes, the effervescent happiness. And not only in the crowd. It's difficult not to think the players are having the time of their lives.

Not just because they are being paid vast sums for a few weeks' work - in many cases more than they make playing for their national teams for an entire year - but also because they aren't fighting a war minus the shooting. Could it be that, for the cricketers themselves along with many others, the IPL is more fun than international cricket?

"That's an interesting question," Kagiso Rabada told an online press conference on Monday. "There's definitely a lot more superstardom hype [in the IPL]. There are big media teams and content creator teams that are behind all the teams. There's a huge following. All the biggest stars in the world go to that tournament. There's a lot of meet and greets. You meet a lot of new players.

"International cricket is more serious. Although we do have fun in international cricket - you're with guys who you know, and there's jokes we have in the team. But I do think it is more serious, even though the IPL is quite serious: we come together as a team and we all have one objective. But the IPL does have a bit more 'funness' to it, without saying there is no fun in international cricket. There is, but it has a higher prestige."

There is no surprise that Rabada is talking up the IPL. This year no-one claimed more than his haul of 30 wickets - two shy of matching the all-time tournament record - nobody who played at least 10 games had a better strike rate than his 13.1, and only he and Jasprit Bumrah took four wickets twice. Not forgetting that the IPL paid Rabada more than USD567,000 this year.

About the only reason he has for not being cheerful about the tournament was that he ended up on the wrong side of the equation in the final in Dubai on November 10, when Mumbai Indians beat Delhi Capitals by five wickets.

And that there were no spectators because of coronavirus regulations. But distill cricket to its elements and you arrive at the contest between batter and bowler, fielders hovering with intent, umpires calm and dispassionate, and scorers poised to faithfully record what happens, ball by ball by ball.

The IPL is no different in those respects, but there is also nothing like it. It is the game's gaudiest stage, and for many the grandest. That as true for players as it is for spectators.

"You have the world's best players fighting for the top spot, so the competitiveness is going to be really up there," Rabada said. "The crowd gives that extra bit of adrenalin and that extra bit of drama, or theatre. Definitely there is an element missing without the crowd. But we're competitive cricketers who want to compete."

Bat. Ball. Play. Any team will do.

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