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Line between IPL and Test cricket getting blurred

columns Updated: Dec 22, 2012 01:07 IST

Watching Yuvraj unleash his explosive talent in the shortest version of the game, and India steamroll a new-look England cannot be compensation for what the Test team has gone through in the last couple of years.

That T20 cricket is still not the dream product for the main stakeholders of the sport - the players - becomes obvious from what Chris Gayle's priorities in life are. The most destructive limited-overs batsman wants to score more than 20 hundreds, average more than 45, and help his team beat Australia. All this in Test cricket.

If you talk to Yuvraj, his dreams won't be any different. He would, any day, want to trade his T20 place for a permanent place in the Test side, something that bad luck and a harsh decision to drop him after welcoming him back to the side, prevented him from achieving.

Given his courage and resilient nature, which refuses to bow to any adversity, his time will come, though the beast called T20 is all set to devour India's Test cricket. Compare this India team to England's that played in Pune, and what stands out is the names representing the two sides.

Whereas England had most players not known to Test cricket, India were more or less represented by either those on the fringes of Test selection or already established in the team.

What it shows is that England understand the different needs of the two formats and do not want to expose their Test stars to bad habits. India have no such qualms. Why should it be so? The answers are hard to find, unless one reaches the conclusion that they don't care, despite the embarrassing losses at home and away.

Or even if they care, they don't want the star value of the IPL brand to suffer. So a Dhoni, instead of being rested, to reduce his inhuman workload, has to lead the side as his brand value as a premier T20 player will suffer and adversely affect his IPL franchise.

Test at stake?
The same logic should apply to other players, like the Gambhirs and Ashwins of this world. This could spell greater disaster for India's Test fortunes, but good news for IPL team owners, like the Board president N Srinivasan, who, as the world knows, is the owner of the Chennai Super Kings.

This conflict of interest, written and debated extensively everywhere, is one of the root causes preventing a healthy debate in the Board on how to address India's shortcomings in Test cricket.

In Mohinder Amarnath's ill-timed revelation of how the Board president vetoed Dhoni's removal as Test captain by the selection committee, the moot point was not whether Srinivasan's intervention was justified or not.

It raised the fundamental issue of a franchise owner's power of saving an India captain's job. Unless Srinivasan - who by many accounts seems to be a man who cares for Indian cricket - realises that his wearing two hats is harming a sincere, genuine introspection into what is wrong with Indian cricket, the line between IPL and India would continue to get blurred. A day might come when there will be no India Test team left.