Friday, August 19, 2011

Fatigue, IPL, Preparation and other excuses

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Now India wants another warm-up game before the Boxing day test in Melbourne. This completely confuses me. On the one hand, we crib about too much cricket, then we want one more warm up game because cricketers have not had enough of the "right" kind of cricket. But warm-up games don't cause any mental fatigue as any athlete can tell you. I'm joking of course.

There is a very simple explanation for this. "You can take a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink." That's exactly what's going on with the Indian team. During the 80s and 90s it was inadequate pay, poor pitches, lack of fast bowlers, unimaginative board, lack of incentives, selectorial stupidity and player selfishness. Most of these issues have been tackled.

There are now better pitches, enough fast bowlers (although PK may not fully qualify), enough salaries and a good contract system, good domestic pay, incentives, selectorial consistency and a board that will fight for players (example Sydney) even if it is sometimes misguided.

India's cricketers are low on motivation right now after winning the world cup. Very simple and straightforward explanation. The nerdy types would want some other "fact-based" reasoning. It doesn't exist because the cricketers are human and not statistics. Even if this tour meant a lot to them, they couldn't crank themselves up after winning the world cup.

Why can't we just agree that we were completely out-thought and out-played by a smarter team? England killed Australia mercilessly and down under to boot. Let's admit that the Andy Flower, Andrew Strauss led English team is more motivated and smarter than the teams that they are playing.

Sure, India has made some mistakes, but I don't believe IPL has led India to perform poorly. This is the core group that challenged SA in South Africa and won the world cup. They can't become stupid overnight. A second string team did decently in the West Indies to win the series.

I don't think Sehwag, Zaheer, Gambhir and Pujara played the IPL expecting to pick up injuries. Resting during the IPL would have meant giving up a huge source of income that is critical for professional players. In any case, that in itself does not mean that India would have given England a run for their money. This is pure speculation that a fit Indian team would have challenged England more or won even.

The Australians were well rested when they took on the English and they were well-prepared too. But they got creamed, didn't they? It's time to put the cribbing aside and salute an English team that well and truly deserves to be the number one team. It's time for critics and commentators and quit cribbing about preparation. India were in the West Indies prior to this tour. What else should they be doing? Play the English team in a pre-series series?

I'm mad as hell that we can't give credit where it's due. Our cricketers are now officially over the hill and it's time to rebuild the team. We needed this series to certify that. If we close our eyes to reality and send this same team to Australia, so that Sachin, Dravid and Laxman can have the satisfaction of a series win in Australia by beating an undercooked Australia, then we are set to suffer for another generation.

IPL is here to stay. We need to figure out how to prepare and win while it is there. India weren't much better during the "good old days" of no IPL.


Golandaaz said...

To a large extent you are correct. I have been rating England higher than India ever since England won the Adelaide Test.

But just because the IPL is here to stay does not mean we can't blame it.

Fatigue, Preparation, IPL are all valid reasons for India's non-compete agreement on this tour.

The positives of IPL are real but mostly short sighted and overstated. Currently it is also a disruptive force to an established Test structure.

No one plays the IPL expecting to get injured but the BCCI and the players need to realize that playing cricket has the risk of injuries. The scheduling of the IPL directly put India's WI and Eng tours at risk.

As you say, India would have anyways lost. Which is the case in most Olympics but we still try to send our best athletes...don't we?

The criticism against the IPL is valid because the disruptions it is causing is real but being conveniently ignored and not discussed. Over time as you say we might figure a way to live with it and even thrive.

One of the ways it could happen is (I do not think it is a good idea) by players taking a stand. Like a Malinga or a Lee or a Ponting or Clarke.

People like Dhoni and Sachin, whose decisions are carefully orchestrated by corporate India are incapable of restoring India's Test supremacy now.

Vidooshak said...

Golandaaz -

I'm probably thick in the head. Give me some reasons as to why the IPL specifically and no other event on the cricket calendar is to blame. IPL alone doesn't cause fatigue. Plus, theoretically, Tendulkar was well rested because he wasn't in the West Indies. Dravid, the only guy who clicked did play in the IPL and West Indies. Why can't I assume, it was the World Cup that was the problem? Because Dravid didn't play the World Cup.

I know it's a stupid way of reasoning to say that the world cup is to blame, but from my perspective your finger pointing at IPL feels the same way.

Golandaaz said...

I think for me IPL represents private cricket. That is why I am picking on the IPL. For me its not the same things as the Olympics, or the world-cup.

And I am averse to risking resources marked for national duty towards IPL. If the 6 weeks of IPL were to be invested in a full tour of Bangladesh and had we lost players to injuries and fatigue, I would have been okay with it. I may have complained about BCCI scheduling but largely okay.

For me IPL is not the same as any other cricket the ICC draws up in the FTP.

You do not make that distinction (it seems) and that is the point we need to debate...

Anonymous said...

the repeated attempts to 'not' blame the IPL are very strange.

blogger sounding like smg/rs in the commentary box. ('not a compliment' alert)

point 'not' made! time to move on..

Fitness for Cricket said...

Indeed it will be an immense challenge for India to replace Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar when they call time. Perhaps they need to drop one of them to prevent all three retiring at the same time...