37 and in his prime: David Wiese’s Indian summer is getting an IPL stage
@Aadya_Wisden 4 minute read
David Wiese is 37, having lived through a career like few others. A national team switch, numerous T20 leagues and two T20 World Cup appearances later, he returns to the IPL for the first time in six years.
“If the IPL comes along, that will be fantastic. I have always said that after my two years at RCB, I’d love to go back another year and play the IPL again.”
Speaking to me during the 2021 T20 World Cup, David Wiese had opened up about his wish to play in the IPL once more. While he insisted “it’d be fine” if a chance did not materialise, the thought of returning had stayed at the back of his mind.
One glance at Wiese’s T20 CV, and you can understand why the IPL truancy feels like a missing link. He has played nearly everywhere: name almost any top-tier league and you will have his name on it. His career spans 327 T20s, 260 wickets and 3,749 runs, and that includes his time with South Africa and Namibia.
Out of these, only 15 matches have come in the IPL, considered on many parameters to be the best franchise-based T20 event in the world.
The last of those appearances came in the 2016 season, when Wiese played just one game, compared to 14 in 2015 (he took 16 wickets). Since those two seasons at Royal Challengers Bangalore, an IPL deal has never come through.
The snub does not exactly align with Wiese’s phenomenal T20 exploits over the last few years. With age, he only seems to have gotten better. By leaving South Africa in 2017 to become a Kolpak player, he had effectively put a full stop to his international career. It turned out to be a comma instead, for four years later, he was carrying Namibia into the group stages of the T20 World Cup.
In that edition, Wiese’s tally of 227 runs – built exclusively from game-changing cameos – was the sixth-highest in the edition. It was just one-half of his role: the skiddy medium-pace also accounted for six wickets, the change of pace and cutters doing the job on UAE’s sluggish tracks.
The same attributes turned him into a sensation at the Pakistan Super League. At Lahore Qalandars, his rapid, clean-hitting down the order fit perfectly. The 2019 season turned him into a cameo king of sorts, and he has thrived in that role since. The 2021/22 PSL final perfectly epitomised that, when his 8-ball 28 from No.7 was the late thrust that carried the Qalandars to 180. His tournament strike rate, after 11 innings, stood at 185.
Wiese registered for the IPL auction and went unsold for each year from 2017 to 2022. A tall, seam-bowling all-rounder who could tonk the ball a mile seemed the perfect package for any team, but the restriction of four overseas slots and the abundance of overseas talent did not make things easy for him.
You can sense their apprehension in picking him over bigger, younger names when he was on the wrong side of 35, and playing international cricket mostly against low-ranked teams.
That changed with the expansion of IPL to ten teams. Wiese continued to be a fine T20 product, and the creation of two new teams opened up further slots to fill. The advent of the Impact Player rule, while of limited use for an overseas slot, saw teams tweak their combinations.
A breakthrough finally came with the Kolkata Knight Riders this year, where Wiese was bought at his base price of INR 1 crore. Already depleted by the absence of their captain, Shreyas Iyer, Kolkata will also miss the services of Shakib Al Hasan, with a question mark on Litton Das’ availability too.
Wiese did not play the first game, but it will hardly be surprising if he finds his way in soon. At 37, it will complete a full circle for Wiese, who, after his first IPL stint, quit South Africa cricket, became a Kolpak player, and then a T20 star.
“I try to take care of the process and the results come in.”
In that interview, Wiese said the most cliched of cricketing lines. It’s really come through.
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