Former players divided over IPL’s impact on India’s Test show
New Delhi: India`s catastrophic performance in the Test tours of England and Australia has triggered a heated debate as to whether the cash-rich IPL is wrecking havoc with the players` technique and temperament.
While some former players consider the glamorous Twenty20 event as one of the prime reasons for the Test slump, others feel that one event cannot alter a player`s basic technique and approach towards the game.
After being whitewashed 0-4 in England last year, India are staring down the barrel in Australia as well, trailing the four-match series 0-3 right now.
The famed batting line-up that was supposed to make the most of what was touted as India`s best chance of winning a series Down Under has let the team down with even veterans such as Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman struggling on the bouncy tracks.
The team has failed to take even a single match of the series to five days so far, losing the third in Perth with two and half days to spare. The shocking display has left the cricket fraternity baffled as to what has gone wrong with the side which was world number one some months back.
Former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi felt that IPL`s emergence is one of the primary reasons for India`s disastrous performance overseas.
"If one starts putting things in a broader perspective, you must understand that this is exactly what happens when you have non-cricketers running the show. You want to run a professional body and at the same time you have all honorary posts," Bedi said.
"The game of cricket always had a philosophy but sadly IPL doesn`t have any philosophy. It`s just a `hit and run` game. Cricket is indeed a commercial game but the BCCI should have known where to draw a line as far as commerce is concerned."
Bedi was also very vocal about the "role" of BCCI`s technical committee which has now been in existence for nearly two decades.
"The BCCI technical committee is supposed to be the most important committee which should take all major decisions. Sunil Gavaskar headed it for a long time and now Sourav Ganguly is the chairman. Tell me what has been the contribution of this committee for the development of game? They have done absolutely nothing" he stated.
But another former Test skipper Dilip Vengsarkar refused to blame it completely on IPL and said lack of proper planning by the BCCI is the prime reason for the dismal show.
"IPL is not the only thing that is affecting the performance. The (tour itinerary) is faulty. There were not sufficient games before the start of the series or in between the Tests. The reserves in the team, like Rohit Sharma and wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha have not played for more than a month," said the former national chief selector.
Vengsarkar felt the IPL should not be overdone and ideally be over in a month`s time.
Former India pacer Manoj Prabhakar said youngsters nowadays want to be a part of cash-rich extravaganza by any means rather than honing their skills in domestic cricket.
"Have you seen any youngster saying that I want to play Ranji Trophy? No. You would only hear them say "Bhai kuch bhi karke IPL mein khila do humein (Just get an IPL contract for me). No one wants to work hard when you can earn crores by playing a month and a half of T20 cricket," Prabhakar said.
"Is the board bothered about the health of domestic cricket? When you can be a millionaire without playing real form that is Test cricket -- you won`t have that required passion and hunger to succeed at international stage," he added.
Former selector Chandu Borde blamed the Indian batsmen`s inability to learn from mistakes they committed during the tour of England for the batting debacle.
"The IPL is not to be blamed. The players have not learned from the mistakes that they committed in the UK. They keep getting out in the same fashion. Only Sachin Tendulkar has not committed the same mistakes," said the 77-year-old, who had played in 55 Tests between 1958 and 1969.
Former batsman Aakash Chopra said youngsters nowadays look to play more strokes and are not taking enough time to settle down after the advent of Indian Premier League.
"I don`t want to blame IPL but yes the shift has started with the IPL, young batsman are not willing to give themselves time and look to play too many strokes and fail in situations which are hostile such as in England and Australia. These are worrying times, if we don`t cover it now, the downward slide will continue," he said.
But another former player Bapu Nadkarni, who represented the country in 41 Tests between 1955 and 1968, said if the IPL affected Indian batsmen it should have similar impact on the international players as well.
"If IPL is to be blamed, then it should have affected other cricketers too? The inability to adapt is the main reason. They are Test cricketers. They should be able to adapt. But if they feel IPL is affecting their game then let them decide not to play in it. You can`t have it both ways," the former all-rounder said.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar rejected suggestions that the technique of the Indian batsmen has been affected due to the slam-bang approach in the IPL.
"I don`t think so that for batting style, IPL should be blamed. These cricketers have scored a lot of runs in the Ranji, which is first class cricketer and then they are selected to play for India at Test level," Gavaskar said.
"If IPL is the reason, why David Warner is scoring runs. The batsmen of other (international) teams are also scoring runs so is that only Indian batsmen are suffering because of IPL?," Gavaskar asked while participating in a TV show.
Gavaskar, who has been a member of the IPL`s Governing Council in the past, said India`s senior batsmen have performed well at international stage despite playing in the event.
"Is VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar`s technique has been affected or for that matter of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir? It`s only that in the last two (foreign) tours they have not played to their potential.”
"Blaming IPL for that is just finding a scapegoat. Jacques Kallis says that T20 format is easiest on body. It may be high on intensity but it is easy.”
"Then BCCI has a rule that Indian players will not play more than 14 matches," he said.
IPL Chairman Rajiv Shukla refuted suggestions that the league was the reason behind India`s defeat.
"It is wrong to blame IPL for everything. The Australian players such as David Warner and Shane Watson also play in IPL, how are they performing well.”
"It is also wrong to say that the players are tired. IPL ended in May and so many series have passed. There is no compulsion on any player to play all matches," he said.