Spinner Nayan Doshi seeks unlikely IPL swansong at 42 after eight years out of pro game

When T20 cricket started in 2003, there were two great fears expressed by the sceptics. The big-hitting would drive spinners out of the game; and the emphasis on athleticism and the fast-paced nature of the game would leave experienced players struggling to keep up.

Through his early success at Surrey, left-arm-spinner Nayan Doshi was one of the first to prove the former false. Now, through being shortlisted for this year’s IPL auction at 42 years of age, he could become the latest to debunk the latter.

Chris Gayle, less than a year younger than Doshi, is still a force in leagues the world over. So too Imran Tahir, just six months younger than Doshi. And under a year away from his 50th birthday, Pravin Tambe has been an economical presence in both the Caribbean Premier League and the Abu Dhabi T10.

“I don’t think about my age,” Doshi told The Cricketer website. “Age will only be a barrier for those who want it to be a barrier. Whether you’re 42 or 20, you should earn your spot. This is professional cricket – earn your spot and be better than the older player.”

Doshi did play a handful of IPL games in 2010 and 2011, for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. His last IPL wicket was Brendon McCullum, bowled for 29 off 12, on May 15, 2011, which given that McCullum is now Kolkata Knight Riders’ coach would make for a nice story if, a decade on, Doshi found himself wearing the purple at Eden Gardens.

Back then he was classed as a domestic player, due to playing in the Ranji Trophy and its List A and T20 equivalents (the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophies) as a fringe player for Saurashtra.

But it’s been in leafy North West London that he hatched his plan to return to the bright lights, this time as an overseas player. After a successful club summer for Brondesbury, in which he took 17 wickets in nine games at 14.5, rekindled his love for the game, he spent the winter of 2020 bowling.

He spent hours every day in the nets with coaches and his club captain, James Overy, but if he was going to make a serious attempt to make the jump from Middlesex Premier League to Indian Premier League, there was one person above all who he needed to impress: his father.

Dilip Doshi played 33 Tests and 15 ODIs for India and took nearly 900 first-class wickets. He knows a thing or two about left-arm spin bowling, and when he said Nayan was ready, that was good enough. “He was a great, great bowler and a very hard man to please. After I’d been practising for two weeks, he came to see me and gave me the nod. I value his opinion the most,” said the younger Doshi.

The ECB and PCA helped him through the auction registration process, and on to the 1,000-plus strong longlist he went.

Remarkably, at least one franchise expressed an interest in the man who last played professional cricket in December 2013. And so he will be one of the 292 who’ll go under auctioneer Hugh Edmeades’ gavel in Chennai today (Thurs).

But even having set the lowest possible reserve price of 20 lakh rupees (£19,800) he’ll face stiff competition from among those classed as uncapped spinners. His most notable rivals are the Nepali leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, already a franchise star; Tanveer Sangha, another leg-spinner who impressed in the Big Bash; and the Afghan left-arm wrist-spinner Noor Ahmad.

All are less than half Doshi’s age, and 16-year-old Noor wasn’t even born when Doshi made his T20 debut for Surrey. But if a franchise decides that 42 is the answer to their ultimate question, remember where your towel is and don’t panic. For even at the highest level, T20 is very far from just a young man’s game.

Broadcast Schedule

IPL 2024
IPL 2024 Q1 KKR v SRH
21st May
Start time: 3:00 pm BST
England v Pakistan 2024 T20 series
1st T20, ENG v PAK, Headingley
22nd May
Start time: 6:30 pm BST