India has been suddenly struck by a rising tide which is threatening to devour one of its most loved and admired cricketing icons — MSD.
After India’s exit from the T20 World Cup, where it was expected to annihilate the opposition on the strength of having built a “wonderful” brand called the IPL, we are now being told that the players were unfit, lacked commitment and intensity. And the leader of this pack committed so many tactical blunders that he had no business to blame the excesses of the IPL for his and the team's poor performance.
The shock and surprise at these “revelations” have infuriated the “fan” and the media so much that now Modi is passé, and instead Dhoni and his band of wayward men should be guillotined.
It is amusing to find that the very “experts” who were finding IPL the perfect platform for new young talent, are now finding the quality of the competition substandard and not suited to produce genuine talent. Its cheerleaders are still not willing to blame the excesses of the tournament and its scheduling which left the players drained, exhausted and jaded.
It is not my point to find excuses for the technical flaws of the batsmen who can't face the bouncing ball even in the shortest version of the game or do not have the bowling resources to pay back in the same coin.
Nor do I want to defend Dhoni for the tactical mistakes he may have made, especially in the selection of his bowling combination. But to ignore the fact that fatigue and lack of fitness resulting from the excesses of the IPL may have played a major role in India being knocked out of the competition without even a fight, and to condemn Dhoni for having pointed to these factors, would be doing a disservice to Indian cricket. As William Blake famously said, “The road to excess leads to the place of wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.”
We should have known what is more than enough when we were warned by coach Gary Kirsten after India met a similar fate in last year’s T20 World Cup. He had raised some serious concerns about how he had lost the players to the IPL and his team was unfit and not properly acclimatised to give its best in England.
He had suggested that, in future, IPL be scheduled keeping in mind India’s international commitments and had even gone to the extent of saying that if a similar situation arises, some of the key players should be rested from the IPL.
We did not listen, instead went to the extent of even selling the telecasting rights of the “IPL Night Parties” to a TV channel at a huge price to maximise profits and cut losses. This in turn meant giving licence to the players to indulge in excesses, which could make them lose focus from the game.
Do blame the players for not being more responsible and, as Dhoni put it, not “respecting your body” but at the same time we can't absolve those who allowed this to happen.
One shudders to think what will happen to the Indian team after they play 94 instead of 60 matches in the next IPL! I don't think we and the Indian board have heard the saying that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”