India’s performance in the T20 World Cup in England this year has been no less than a tragic story out of the classic books. Different people came up with different reasons for the failure; some said the opening batsmen didn’t click, some said the bowling was toothless… Some cited fitness as an issue and the others blamed the IPL…
The difference in opinion varied so much that even the captain and the coach of the same team refused to narrow down to a mutual rationale. Where on one hand, the team coach Gary Kirsten strongly held the view of the IPL and excessive cricket being the prime causes of the team’s ouster from the World Cup; on the other Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni didn’t completely accuse the cash-rich event of being the spoilsport, but somehow agreed of some players not being cent per cent fit. He certainly did not cite fatigue or overwork as an excuse.
Kirsten’s remarks attracted heavy criticism from the BCCI. The board slammed the former South Afr
ican opener, saying that the players would have informed the authorities if stress would have come in their way of performance and that IPL in no way hindered their play.
The BCCI’s Media and Finance Committee Chairman, Rajiv Shukla, also added that unfit players were not over-strained, as there were enough fit players in their reserve bank to replace them.
The argument by BCCI could have been believed with utmost sincerity if the hypocrisy in their attitude while announcing the team for the West Indies tour would not have been evident.
The board’s claim of the players not being victim of over-work was nullified the moment it was announced that Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan would not be touring the Caribbean land.
This is to clarify that players like Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina and a couple more are not considered, as they were unfortunate to get injured.
As for the rest, no other reason other than tiredness and excessive work seems to be logical enough for them being rested.
BCCI may be strong enough in its opinion, but is it forgetting that the team indeed hasn’t had enough rest throughout the past year so as to gain proper fitness and energy to compete in the forthcoming tournaments? And that by saying that the players weren’t tired for the T20 World Cup is nothing but an attempt to guard the probable adverse effect of the stressful IPL on the players?
Team India have been involved in some tournament or the other since October last year. First came the 4-match Test series against Australia, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which was followed by a 5 ODIs and 2-Test series. Then in January 2009, India visited our Southern neighbours Sri Lanka for a 5 ODI and a T20 series. Soon after that, India headed straight to New Zealand for a 5-match ODI series, attached with two T20 games in March and April.
And if that wasn’t all, the Indian Premier League was standing next in the queue. The Indian players, hardly having any rest, headed straight to South Africa for the arduous tournament.
Forty five days of non-stop cricket and excessive travelling between the games, and before the players could catch some breath, it was time to compete for the most prestigious trophy of the played lot, the T20 World Cup.
What more can we expect from our players other than stress and weariness?
For the forthcoming tour of West Indies, it is strange that despite the players not being tired (according to the BCCI), some key men have been given ‘rest’; men who could have been the trump cards for the team against the Windies.
If it is not stress, they what else may one call it?
Primarily, the tour in question shouldn’t have been announced at all. After such a hectic year, wouldn’t it have been wise to give all the players some rest and time to mingle with their respective families? Also, the idea to flying down to a country far away from ours for just four ODIs would give nothing but more stress to the already worn out players. The intention behind organising a tour is such haste denotes nothing but greed to earn even more television revenue.
Probably the BCCI needs to be reminded that there is more to a player’s life than just cricket.
If we consider fitness levels of athletes, it is clearly evident other sportsmen playing tennis or soccer posses fitness which is far better than our Indian cricketers. The schedule followed by our Men in Blue wouldn’t have worried them so much, considering the fact that they follow a regime much stricter than our cricket team.
Also, it is not only cricket that rules the lives of our cricketers. Advertisements, endorsements, media interaction too demands a decent chuck of time and energy from the players’ schedule.
Whatever may be the case, stress and fatigue is haunting Team India currently, though the BCCI and Dhoni may not acknowledge it.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)