Indian Test cricket needs oxygen
Observing the recently concluded Test series between India and England, I deduced that India is no more the lion in its own den.
The IPL has become so lucrative, providing instant fame and money to young players. There is no denying that more young Indian talent have been able to rub shoulders with the stalwarts of the game. But the limelight is served on a platter in T20 cricket. In contrast, Test cricket demands more toil and hard work for a substantially longer time, thus fame and fortune takes longer to acquire.
The IPL and Indian Test cricket reminds me of two famous Bollywood actors; Salman Khan and Naseeruddin Shah. Where one’s movie makes bigger cheques, the other has the respect from the whole acting fraternity.
Currently, Indian Test cricket is reminiscent of an old man who is desperate for surgery, but is kept on a ventilator. The old man has the ability to overcome the surgery, but the doctors have no confidence for his survival. BCCI is Indian Test cricket’s surgeon.
India’s purple patch was mainly due to Ganguly’s charisma, Dravid’s perfection, Laxman’s never say die spirit, Kumble’s intelligence and Tendulkar’s freedom. Sadly, barring Tandulkar, all have bid adieu. The players brought up with the IPL have been missing the aforementioned traits. A temperament is lacking in many of the up and coming Indian cricketers.
Recently, Bishen Singh Bedi wisely stated: “IPL has changed the way a young boy perceives the game of cricket in India.” The scenario in today’s coaching camps in India is that parents are pushing coaches to prepare their children for IPL rather than test cricket.
It is obvious after watching India play and seeing BCCI’s model for emerging talent that Indian test cricket has massively declined, this fall triggered by the IPL. The Ranji Trophy is nowhere close to being the preparation for Test cricket. In the first T20 against England, Yuvraj Singh stated: “I practiced these shots while playing my last Ranji Trophy game where I scored a century.” This statement is indicative of how lucrative the Ranji Trophy is for a player who wants to play Test cricket for India.
BCCI needs to develop a model that goes beyond monetary incentives. The IPL is a short term model that will never yield results for the longest format of the game.
The wealthiest board in world cricket is facing a dearth of talent to survive in Tests. For the romanticist, a business model developed on par with corporate social responsibility would help save Indian Test cricket. BCCI must understand that money can’t buy everything.
It’s high time the Pied Piper of Hamelin moves to the longest format of the game, because if it doesn’t, just like the rats, Indian Test cricket will free-fall.