Hardly an IPL match goes without the TV commentators going gaga over the MRF blimp and reminding viewers for the thousandth time how the tyre company has contributed to Indian cricket through its pace foundation.
The chief coach of the MRF Pace Foundation, however, is not ready to return the compliment for he finds the glitzy League an impediment to his task of producing fast bowlers for India.
“Because of the IPL, I am finding it difficult to motivate the boys to play for the country," says former Tamil Nadu batsman and chief coach of the foundation, M. Senthilnathan. He says the money offered by the League is its biggest attraction.
Australia's pace legend Dennis Lillee is the director of coaching and visits the foundation thrice a year. Senthilnathan, who was part of Tamil Nadu's last Ranji Trophy-winning team in 1987-88 and has completed BCCI's Level III course for coaches, is in charge for the rest of the year.
Senthilnathan is angry with a couple of IPL franchises, which he refused to name, for poaching a few of the trainees before they finished the programme. "The boys haven’t played in front of big crowds. They don’t know how to handle pressures A failure here can set the boys back by two years.
He, though, understands the franchises' problem. "The IPL is a new thing and the franchises are learning as they go along." But maybe it is time they learnt faster.