Thursday, May 26, 2011

Playing for Club is playing for Country

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At some point someone will realize that the same limited set of overworked players aren't going to be able to sustain our World Champion status in One Day Internationals, entertain us at IPL games and sustain our number one ranking in Tests.

We need a larger pool of players and we need players to specialize...not just as bowlers, batsmen and wicket keepers but specialize in formats too.

The alternative adopted by administrators the world over, which is largely push the players to make an illusionary club v country choice; is short sighted, self serving, mean, wicked and ultimately harmful to the game. Many talk about "a window"... but that too is a band-aid fix. India has a built-in IPL window and yet the next few weeks promises to unfold like a soap-opera starting with the Gautam Gambhir situation.

Players, including Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, probably have no leverage with either their IPL franchises or the BCCI about not playing the IPL. I doubt that any of these players would have been able to skip the IPL to rest for the tour of the West Indies. Just too many incoming dollars depend on certain players playing IPL games and franchise owners and the BCCI have a lot to lose if the fans stop coming to the games.

This makes the club v country argument an illusion to avoid the real issues, especially  for Indian cricketers. Indian players are playing the IPL for the BCCI and thus by extension for the country.

 The way things have been unfolding ahead of the tour of West Indies is nothing short of a tragedy. A tour to the West Indies was, not so long ago, a main event. Worthy enough to command a delayed broadcast of a running commentary on the radio. Today India can’t find a man fit enough to lead because many have been exhausted performing circus acts for receiving large sums of money from bollywood actors and actresses.

There is real risk that the IPL will negatively impact India’s chances in the West Indies

Sometimes the value of something can best be assessed based on what one is willing to give up acquiring it. The BCCI has to decide how valuable the IPL is by figuring out how much it is willing to lose. And sometimes the choice is not in your hands. You are rudely shown the value of something you possess through an inventory of things you have lost in the process.

I hope what India loses because of its short sighted obsession with the IPL is substantial enough that it forces permanent changes. Fortunately we have a lot to lose this year. How about a Test Series in West Indies as starters and dropping to the middle of the pile in Test rankings by the end of the Australian tour.

I think these losses are strategically important for Indian cricket.


Govind Raj said...

Gol, I for one am least bothered by guys like Sachin and Viru playing meaningless ODI series. IPL needs them and so do the Test team. We can mostly manage to win without Sachin, Sehwag, Zaheer and Bhajji in ODIs and even T-20 Internationals.

We have RD, VVS, Ishant, Sreesanth and Zaheer mostly for Test Cricket and Zaher for selected ODIs.

We have Raina, Yusuf, Munaf, Praveen, Virat [at present], Rohit, Ashwin and some more for ODIs and T-20.

Only Gambhir and Dhoni are the people who appear indispensable in all formats and IPL. And they along with Viru, Sachin, Bhajji and Zaheer should be played in rotation. But due to too tight a schedule and Viru's decision to postpone his surgery means India will miss him for most past of the coming season.

BCCI, Selectors and players should plan in such a way that this kind of a situation doesn't happen too often. But there is a positive to the whole affair. Our bench strength will get more exposure and that is good enough.

Golandaaz said...

I agree we need the best guys for the Tests and the IPL.

But I don't expect the BCCI to "plan" anything more than saying the standard line...."We don't force anyone to play in the IPL" explaining why we won't have the best opening pair in the world open the batting in tests for the WI

They will make this a player issue. Just like how other boards have done, including England's and Australia's

Anonymous said...

This is a "player + BCCI" issue. Why is it ok for SRT to play IPL & Champions 20-20 but not country 20-20?

BTW, Gambhir is over-rated.

GG as indian captain makes no sense - he is an angry young man with limited grace. Glad that destiny played its hand for the WI tour.

GG is a gritty batsman but grit won't carry him long in international cricket - hope i am wrong.

Golandaaz said...

as predicted this is what came out

"Nobody is forced to play. Nobody is forced to play for the country. Nobody is forced to play for their club."

IPL chief...

Utter falsehood


SRT playes league T20 because Reliance and the BCCI want to make money. He draws crowds

Ameya said...

I read your blogs with interest, and am usually in agreement with you. However, I'd like to disagree with you on this one and here's why:

1. Your assessment that there's a real risk of us losing ODIs in WI is pessimistic. Even our B'ish' team seems good enough to beat WI, albeit without Gayle.

2. The Test team is near full strength, and the BCCI is making the best out of the situation with players injured and/or wanting rest which is part of the game.

3. Nobody said Sehwag's injury was because of his playing in the IPL. When he'd had enough, he walked out mid-way.

4. Gambhir's was a trickier issue, but I still won't blame him for choosing IPL play-offs for a multi-million enterprise as captain,over a rather thankless tour of WI.

5. The multi-million enterprise that is IPL pays its cricketers well, and makes their futures more secure - not at all a bad thing.

6. Sending our second string players to the WI also broadens our player pool, acts as testing ground for future replacements, acts as acknowledgement to deserving players like Badrinath, and offers second chance to Rohit Sharma, M. Vijay, et al. None of them a bad thing.

7. In summary, I don't see this as club v country. I see it as mere pragmatism. No coincidence that we aren't in England in the first half of their summer.

Sorry, if this was long-winded but I had to say my piece, as this has been rankling me for a while and then your saying the same thing struck a raw nerve :-)

Golandaaz said...

i think what rankles me is the fact that a tour to the WI holds no prestige any more...

but your points are compelling thanks...

Also thanks for supporting this blog..appreciate it :-)