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In high stake games, India should not be the loser

Shouldn't the administrators feel responsible enough to ensure that the Sehwags of this world are in peak condition when the best of the world confront each other on a stage like the World Cup? Pradeep Magazine ponders.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2009 00:39 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Pradeep Magazine
Hindustan Times

India's timid and listless World Cup campaign may have shocked its legions of fans, but it has also, in one swift stroke, brought us face to face with the harsh reality of greed versus performance.

How much is too much, and does creating a fantasy world on the foundation of corporate money alone make a team the best in the world, are the moot questions confronting us today.

Shying away from the debate, and making Gary Kirsten seem out of sync with the times by dubbing his reasoning that the IPL harmed his team as a case of sour grapes, will not only be unfair but will also not help the future course of Indian cricket.

Kirsten may be an old-fashioned cricketer, but his behind-the-scenes, understated, low-key methods have done wonders for this team, something that the players acknowledge with gratitude. He has played a part in shaping the fortunes of this team and has reaffirmed its faith in a coach after Greg Chappell had destroyed that trust with his divide and rule policy.

He has so far been a quiet, gentle face of this team and when he has finally spoken, let us not shut our ears just because his view does not serve the commercial interests of those whose tentacles are fast spreading and could one day devour this very Indian Board that is milking them so far.

Is it not a fact that this team lacked in intensity? Is it not a fact, despite the unpredictability of this format, that this team never looked like winning? It's fielding was poor, fitness levels well below par and it was plagued with injuries. It would be churlish to even suggest that the players deliberately underperformed. There have to be reasons for this sudden overall dip in the team's performance, and if the coach says that the extra workload of the IPL did great harm to the team, why scoff at it?

Tired bodies not only bring down performance, they also lead to jadedness, which can bring down their motivation level a few notches below normal.

That is what seems to have happened, and Kirsten is only articulating that point. He is not condemning the IPL, as is being made out to be.

All he is saying is that the scheduling of the IPL immediately after the New Zealand tour and just before the T20 World Cup was not right.

He is not offering an excuse, just stating a fact. Why should anybody have a problem with it, especially those who feel embarrassed at India's meek capitulation in England.

The problem here is that there are far too many people — former players, present players and sundry others — who stand to monetarily benefit from the IPL.

And all of them will go the extra length to defend this franchise-based tournament, though what is being criticised is not the concept but the gruelling schedule which has led to an inept display by a very talented bunch of cricketers.

This problem is here to stay even if IPL gets a clear window, and with so much money having been pumped into this event, India is even thinking of hosting two IPLs a year. Those whose millions are at stake won't hesitate to gobble up all other forms of cricket, even the T20 bilateral cricket between nations, if given a chance.

It is for the administrators to realise how much is good for the game and where to draw a line.

Frankly speaking, unlike millions of those who are dismayed at India not making it to the semifinals because it has dented their pride, I don't care which team wins and which team loses, be it the Deccan Chargers or India, as long as the skills on display are of highest quality.

Shouldn't the administrators feel responsible enough to ensure that the Sehwags of this world are in peak condition when the best of the world confront each other on a stage like the World Cup? If not, then they are cheating those very fans because of whom this game is, as we are never allowed to forget, a religion in India.

First Published: Jun 20, 2009 00:36 IST