Sunday, June 20, 2010

The T-20 fiasco- The IPL angle

A lot has been written about India's recent cricket failures- the loss to Australia, the 2 match loss against Zimbabwe, and most of all, the T-20 World Cup debacle. Too much analysis has been made and all the points are the same.
Ok, first of all, I would really like to congratulate the England team for winning the t-20 IN STYLE. The way Aus was playing, I really appreciate England nothing less than winning the finals. This nation has given us the game of cricket, and represents great professionalism and grace in handling things. For them to have not won any major tourney in the recent past was an upsetting thing for someone like me, who is a fan of the country itself. Collingwood's men showed great character in dominating the tourney and winning the finals against the strong Aussies really sweetly.

Back to the Indian drama. Lazyness, partying, lack of seriousness towards fitness, arrogance, over confidence etc are the commonly cited reasons. But like Aamir Khan mentioned in a beautiful scene in TZP, these are symptoms, not causes.

As I believe, the real causes for the debacle are tow fold-one, the recent success in both the one day and test format, and, two, the IPL. The recent success, has caused some pretty natural arrogance and overconfidence, collectively termed complacency.

The IPL, the phenomenon that we know, has been a mixed blessing I would say. As much a fan as I am of it (I track it only when Mumbai play), I do think its not a mere coincidence that the last major multi team tourney India won- the T-20 2007 WC, was a year before the IPL. India has had tremendous success in tests and 2 nations series since then, but multi team tourney remains elusive.

Here is why I believe the IPL has been variously responsible for the failure. Ok, the IPL does reveal new players. But then, how many of those have actually made their mark? Barring Yusuf Pathan and Ravindu Jadeja, none of the others have been seen in any form of international cricket ever since. Whatever happened to the "talented" Abhishek Nayar or Dhaval Kulkarni?

Fine, the IPL, just a week before the T-20 WC, gives good match practice and is the perfect rehearsel, when competing with, and playing alongside, world players. Well, not quite. Firstly, most of these so called international players are retired and play only to earn more money in retirement. Gilchrist, hayden, fleming, pollock, warne, etc are all out of international cricket, but have played in IPL. Playing against them is no match practice for the younger world players taking to T-20. Its no good either in playing against each other, because that is not helping.

Look at it this way. Before every major graduation exam, we have a preliminary exam. This exam gives an indication about how well prepared we are, but can never replace the actual studies. Therefore, there is a gap of about a month between the preliminary exam and the final one. Studies happen in this month.

The IPL is similar to this preliminary exam, although with a rider. It is an OPEN BOOK preliminary exam. So, although the exam does give us a feel of how the main test is gonna be, because it is open book, we are never really tested. The IPL does give us an idea of how the players are going to play, but not completely. Also, there is not time between the IPL and the WC, which means the actual studies- the NET PRACTICE, which is oh so essential, does not happen! This is where I think the IPL causes a problem in its concept and being taken for granted as the perfect pitch for the world cup. It is so far away from it.

Thirdly, and more importantly, the IPL gives too much exposure to world players of Indian cricket strategy. Consider this. Barring Jacques Kallis and Boucher, we do not have too many SA Players playing in the IPL. So, the Indian players playing along side or against them, learn about the strengths and weaknesses of only 2 SA players. The 2 SA players, on the other hand, come to know about almost every India player participating in the WC. Same holds true for the couple of Englis players Boparra and Peterson., or for Mahelam Sangakarra and Mendis- the 3 SL players. My point here is- the Indian cricketers are getting too less in return for the tremendous amount they are giving away- game strategy, strengths and weaknesses. The world now knows a lot about the India cricketing strategy, while we know very little. This becomes very important in global competitions.

Concluding, I believe the Indian cricket is certainly undergoing a change with the coming of IPL, but the effects of this change could be massive and huge if not checked.

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