The jury is out on whether the Indian Premier League actually helped or hindered the Indian team’s preparation for the World T20. Skipper MS Dhoni on Sunday refused to acknowledge fatigue as one of the factors for his team’s exit, saying: “If a cricketer says he did not perform because he was tired, it is an excuse. The more you play, the better you get.
“We cannot say we did not perform because we were tired. We have to stand up and say we did not do it as a team and that is why did not do well in the T20 World Cup.”
His coach Gary Kirsten, though, had a different take. On Monday, the normally reticent South African hit out at the continuous cricket his players have had to play. “We hardly had any time to prepare, a lot of international teams had players playing in the IPL, but they had a lot more time to prepare than us. I think that was a factor.
“We also had a lot of players coming in to this tournament carrying niggles. We lost contact with our players during the IPL because they were connected and responsible to their franchises,” Kirsten said.
“We never really got ourselves to the level of intensity that you need to at the international game with the standard of cricket obviously higher than what we would have experienced at the IPL,” he added.
The Indian cricketers had four days between the end of the 56-day New Zealand tour and the start of the IPL. “Fatigue was definitely a factor. I don’t want to use that as an excuse but it was a factor. We weren’t an energetic team, like we were in New Zealand. We didn’t get up to the same level on this tour,” Kirsten said.
Kirsten’s view on the IPL was a world removed from the view before the event.
Before leaving for England, Dhoni had said the IPL experience had helped India prepare for the World T20. “The good thing is this tournament (IPL) will really help us in World T20…Overall the experience will really count,” he had said.
Kirsten differed. “That’s a domestic competition, a club competition in many respects. While you have got many international players playing in the team, you’ve got first-class cricketers making up the rest. I sense that there’s a reasonably big gap between what’s happening at the IPL and what’s happening internationally. It’s only natural, when you’re picking your best XI out of each country the quality is going to go up substantially,” Kirsten added.
With another gruelling schedule awaiting the Indian team in the run-up to the next World T20 in the West Indies in nine months’ time, Kirsten said the option of not releasing players for the IPL could have to be looked in.
“They do it in other sports, maybe that’s something to look in it to that in future. Whether that is possible, I don’t know.”