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‘IPL continues to remain out of bounds for national selectors’

National selectors follow Indian Premier League, the most competitive cricket league in the world, on television over dinner like you and me, writes Amrit Mathur

cricket Updated: Apr 26, 2018 10:57 IST
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League,Board of Control for Cricket in India
Indian national selector continue to be absent from Indian Premier League games.(BCCI)

Sometimes it appears the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is confused about how to handle the Indian Premier League (IPL). Not sure whether to treat it like its own son, or a distant cousin who happens to be loaded. In commercial matters, the BCCI is fully switched on and takes ownership of the IPL. But on issues of policy making and governance, the BCCI chooses to keep an arm’s length.

According to the BCCI’s constitution, the IPL is a ‘sub’ committee which is managed by its Governing Council (GC). But the GC is nominated/controlled by the BCCI and ultimately everything in the IPL is subject to the Working Committee and the AGM which are the highest decision-making bodies.

Confusing and muddled? Yes, but there is more.

Franchises who participate in the IPL are not stakeholders in the true sense. Teams are privately ‘owned’ because the IPL sold this asset (the team) for a price and granted owners the right to ‘operate’ the team in perpetuity. But, unlike genuine stakeholders elsewhere, franchise team owners have zero say in IPL management or governance. They are not represented on the GC, excluded from all decision making and not kept in the loop on important issues.

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Without direct access to the BCCI, communication lines are clogged and teams find out about developments impacting them only from media reports. For team owners, constructive involvement or participation in running the league is a faraway hope. What comes their way, at present, is the odd crumb — unstructured consultation —, a brief ‘feedback’ meeting or the occasional workshop.

If the BCCI deals strangely with team owners, the treatment meted out to its own selection committee is no different. While the IPL plays out in 60 matches across India, the MSK Prasad-led national selection committee gives the tournament a total miss and is not present at matches. National selectors follow India’s premier domestic tournament, and the most competitive cricket league in the world, on television over dinner like you and me.

This IPL snub to India’s national selectors is bizarre. The norm is selectors turn up at all domestic cricket, including the T20 Mushtaq Ali tournament, and accompany ‘A’ sides on overseas tours. So, why not watch India’s young talent to judge their potential, technique and temperament in a high-pressure ‘live’ situation?

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Reasons for skipping IPL are unclear but this has been the practice since the league started. For some reason, IPL continues to remain out of bounds for national selectors.

It is argued, correctly, that IPL franchise teams are selected not by India selectors but by owners and their relatives who are assisted by professionally-appointed coaching staff. Even so, national selectors, if present at the ground, would get a better understanding about a player’s ability.

The irony is selectors, though absent, give IPL performances due consideration when picking players for India. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Jaydev Unadkat, Manish Pandey and others attracted attention through impressive IPL performances. Selectors track IPL for picking zonal teams, short-listing names for building India’s bench strength and making recommendations for annual retainer contracts.

(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

First Published: Apr 26, 2018 10:53 IST