In the country versus club debate, which is the inevitable consequence of the way IPL is structured, we fail to address one simple fact: Who is responsible for creating a situation where players get pitted against their respective boards which is detrimental to international cricket?
Why is it that every year we have to confront an ugly reality where we first lure a player with money into a franchise-owned ‘circus’ and then put his ‘loyalty’ to test by forcing him to make a choice between country and club?
Integrity and commitment to a team is a basic requirement from a player when he is playing, whether it is for his club or his nation. The issue here is not to whom a player is less or more committed, but one of forcing him to make a choice, where on one side are riches he can otherwise never dream of, and on the other side a call for ‘national duty’.
It is reprehensible to be first luring players into playing a league with offers of mega bucks and then putting them into a situation where they could be even charged for ‘treason’.
Officials to blame
What a hypocritical world the cricket administrators live in where they frame rules that allow them to go scot-free, no matter what their crimes, but give themselves unbridled power to play havoc with the future of the players.
Can one visualise a situation where a national team goes to play a series in another country with the core of their team missing for practice games?
Imagine India embarking for the tour of England with their main players, including their captain, still playing in a league tournament in some other country? Will the Indian public and the hyper jingoistic media allow that to happen?
When the dates of the IPL IV were being finalised, everyone knew the international commitments of the national teams. How come the Sri Lankan board gave a commitment to their Indian counterparts that their players will play in the League till the end of May?
And how come the Indian board itself was equally so irresponsible to come to an agreement like this, which would severely undermine international cricket?
There is a more fundamental question, which India will soon have to confront. Indian cricketers needed rest after the World Cup but were straightaway pitch-forked into this demanding league.
It would be cruel to now expect them not to ask for rest and withdraw from the tour of the West Indies which follows the IPL.
Shouldn’t the Indian board have rested these players from IPL or scheduled it on other dates so that their national commitment does not suffer?
Thank God, the World Cup preceded IPL and did not follow it!