5 South African stars who failed to shine in the IPL

South Africa v New Zealand T20
Richard Levi
Raghav Ravichandran

The inception of the IPL a decade ago has changed the way the globe looks at the game and T20 cricket in particular. The stupendous success of the tournament has been the main reason for other countries to start T20 leagues of their own, keeping the IPL model as their base.

Its impact can be seen in the way the tournament has been received by audience across the globe. It has managed to generate a city-based loyalty amongst fans, something very similar to what happens with the English Premier League (EPL) in football.

This tournament has generated superstars, unknown players have gone on to become millionaires and many of them have gone on to represent their countries at the international level.

The same goes for international stars who get selected to play for an IPL franchise. It gives them the opportunity to display their skills on a different platform, a chance to enhance their reputation even more.

South Africa is one of the countries that has seen a number of its players represent sides in the IPL. They even hosted one season of the IPL, the second season in the year 2009.

So many players like AB De Villiers, Faf Du Plessis, Morne Morkel have gone on to become household names in India, thanks to their performances for their respective franchises. But on the flip side, there have been some South African stars who haven’t lived to expectations.

Here’s looking at 5 such South African stars who failed to shine in the IPL:

Richard Levi

Somebody who was considered as the next 'Herschelle Gibbs', Richard Levi triumphantly announced himself on the world stage with a staggering 117 of 45 balls in a T20I against New Zealand, which is the third fastest T20I hundred.

A lot was expected from this batsman, many felt he would shatter a lot of records and make a spot in the South African T20I and ODI squads on a more permanent basis. Every team needs an enforcer at the top of the order who can put oppositions on the back foot right from the word go, and Levi seemed to be a good fit.

Unfortunately for him, and for cricket viewers across the globe, it was just a momentary spark that died down rather quickly. Levi was picked up Mumbai Indians for a sum of $400,000 for the 2012 season, but the talent was never visible.

Becuase of lack of consistency, Richard Levi lost his place in the South African T20I side and garnered just six appearances for the Mumbai Indians franchise. Post that, he has been playing the Ram Slam T20 league and also in the Natwest Blast in England but hasn't been able to create interest in any franchise to buy him in the last 4-5 years.

Talent must be backed by consistency. For someone who is mainly a T20 specialist, if Richard Levi had been able to convert his talent and get good scores consistently, then probably he might have been in consideration for a return to the tournament.

It is indeed unfortunate as from the glimpses of his batting skill when he was hot property, one would have expected him to create the impact a Chris Gayle has made to the tournament, but that was not to be.

Juan 'Rusty' Theron

New Zealand v South Africa - 1st Twenty20 International
Rusty Theron

Considered to be on the finest death overs specialists in the South African domestic circuit, the talented speedster Juan 'Rusty' Theron's claim to fame was his ability to consistently deliver towards the end of the innings.

His low-arm action, coupled with his consistency to bowl full at the death at ease, mixing it up with the well-disguised slower deliveries, made the South Africa national selectors take notice of his talent.

In times where every franchise was looking for bowlers who could hold their own at the death, Theron was bought by Kings XI Punjab in the 2010 IPL season. He was instrumental in helping KXIP win some games as well.

But consistent injuries meant that Theron lost his South African contract, and although Deccan Chargers bought him in their squad, he didn't get to play much. Ever since injuries plagued his game, the bowler went out of the reckoning, and in a tournament where a player of his quality and skill are required, he couldn't create a lasting impact.

Herschelle Gibbs

South Africa v West Indies - ICC Twenty20 World Championship
Herschelle Gibbs

Herschelle Gibbs could turn a match on its head with his batting. His explosive style and aggressive attitude was something to watch out for. He was among those players who most people predicted will rule the T20 format, as it was tailor made for a batsman of his talent.

Not to forget, he was termed the ‘next Jonty Rhodes’ as he was an extremely good fielder, especially at the point position which is crucial in any form of the game. He could easily move to the deep and still be as effective a fielder.

Gibbs would also be remembered for some match-winning performances, and also for the off-field scandals which kept in the limelight at all times. He couldn’t create an impact in this tournament for reasons relating to age and fitness. He was on the verge of ending his professional career when the tournament started.

For a batsman who had played only 23 T20I’s and 36 IPL games, just going by his natural hard-hitting batting style one would have expected him to create ripples which would be felt across the globe, and he could have featured more prominently in other T20 leagues too.

During his brief stint with the Perth Scorchers in the BBL, he couldn't replicate the form he had displayed when he wore the South Africa jersey.

Gibbs had a modest strike rate of just over 100 in his short stint playing the IPL, and because of it, he wasn’t able to repeat his ODI magic in the shortest format of the game.

Age, poor form and the inability to create a strong impact at the top of the order meant that the world didn’t get to see the talented player shine in a such a high profile tournament.

Davy Jacobs

ACL Twenty20 Final: Chennai Super Kings v Warriors
Davy Jacobs

An attacking wicket-keeper batsman, Davy Jacobs has been a prominent figure in the South African domestic circuit. Jacobs started off playing for the Eagles, and once he started showing positive results, he moved on to the Warriors team.

The Warriors saw the leadership skills in Davy Jacobs and made him their captain, and he didn't disappoint. He took the side to title wins in the 50-over and 20-over tournaments in the second year after becoming the captain.

In 2010, he was very impressive for the Warriors in the Champions League, which caught the fancy of the Mumbai Indians franchise, who bought him for a price of $ 190,000.

However, he couldn't convert his performances in the Champions League into the IPL. In the 2011 season, he played a total of seven games and could manage only 92 runs in total.

It just goes to show that not all domestic stars can make the move to the high pressure, high-intensity grind witnessed in this tournament and perform as expected.

Andre Nel

Andre Nel
Andre Nel

Andre Nel was a colourful character on the cricket-field. The tall fast bowler was a delight to watch as his aggressive bowling troubled quality oppositions. His ability to generate bounce and pace made him a candidate to fill up the rather big shoes of Allan Donald.

He was one bowler who never was too far behind when it came to verbal altercations with batsmen. Among the most memorable incidents on the cricket field was his verbal duel with Indian fast-bowler Sreesanth in a Test at Johannesburg.

Sadly for Andre Nel, and for world cricket, the speedster waned, and once Dale Steyn started to become a dominant force in world cricket, Nel had to put an end to his international career and retired in the year 2009.

He continued to play first-class cricket in England and could have made for a quality purchase for any franchise but his off-field controversies and scandals coupled with a drop in pace and efficiency in the county cricket meant Andre Nel never showed up in the IPL.

He just made one appearance and it's fair to say that this speedster self-destructed and ensured he wouldn't get selected by any franchise even as the tournament gained prominence.

Edited by Aadya Sharma


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