By: Chinmay Vaidya
Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan, Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj all made contributions in India's 2-1 Test series victory over Australia, giving hope to emerging players who get their start in franchise T20 leagues that a jump to the international level is possible in any format. That India group made the leap from the IPL to international Test cricket and performed fairly well. This discovery largely happened by accident after most of India's starting XI suffered injuries and Virat Kohli removed himself after the first Test due to the birth of his child. Despite having little experience in the Test format, these five were able to translate the franchise T20 game to a new format. Rishabh Pant, another IPL star, was the run machine for India during the last two Tests. He's the best example of the benefits of franchise cricket.
These benefits aren't exclusive to India. Australia has its own franchise T20 league in the Big Bash and with it comes a new crop of players ready to make their mark on the international stage. Many of these young stars will be on display in the playoffs.
Defending champions Sydney Sixers are once again in a prime position to lift the trophy thanks to Josh Philippe. The 23-year old followed his 487-run campaign from last year with 454 runs in the regular season while improving his strike rate from 129.9 to 149.3. Philippe was disappointing in the IPL bubble, but he's bounced back nicely in familiar conditions. He'll be part of Australia's T20 tour of New Zealand.
Jake Weatherald is another improving T20 batsman capable of producing runs in bunches. The 26-year old put together his second consecutive 400-run season and fourth consecutive 300-run season while improving his strike rate to 143.7. Weatherald will be the key for the Adelaide Strikers to spring a surprise from the bottom of the playoff bracket.
The top four leading wicket-takers from the Big Bash regular season will also be in the playoffs. Jhye Richardson isn't new to the international scene with two Tests, 13 ODIs and nine T20Is under his belt but the Perth strike bowler had to wait nearly a year between ODIs and will wait nearly two years to make another T20I appearance. He's in the squad for the T20 tour of New Zealand, but he'll look to add more wickets in the playoffs and a title for Perth.
Tanveer Sangha will also be joining Australia's tour of New Zealand after racking up 21 wickets for the Sydney Thunder in the regular season. The 19-year old legspinner will likely be brought along slowly and will look to Adam Zampa for additional tips. Wes Agar, younger brother of Australia regular Ashton Agar, has made his case for a call-up with 21 wickets for the Strikers this season. Unlike his older brother, Wes Agar is a right-arm fast bowler and will likely have to wait in a long line of young Australian pacers.
Mark Steketee will look to follow the path of India's IPL stars when joining Australia's Test squad for the South Africa tour. The 27-year old pacer has been Brisbane's top wicket taker and is a big reason why the Heat are in the playoffs after a disappointing finish last season. He'll face off against Wes Agar and Weatherald in the bottom of the playoff bracket. Elsewhere, Philippe will have to contend with Richardson in the first qualifier while Sangha awaits the winner of Adelaide-Brisbane.
Philippe, Richardson, Sangha and Steketee are getting international looks after strong Big Bash campaigns. Look for Weatherald, Wes Agar and other young Australians to join the mix soon as the board taps into a rich domestic talent pool.