Is IPL spoiling Indian team's future?
The IPL is slowly becoming the tournament where the BCCI looks when picking the national side. Instead of performances in domestic tournaments like the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup, more focus is given to performances in the cash-rich T20 league.
This practice would make sense if the players selected for the national team were chosen for T20 formats, but Axar Patel was selected for the ODI team on the back of his performance in the annual T20 tournament. Although ODIs and T20s are both limited-over formats, there is a massive difference in the two. In T20, we see a lot of batsmen who can only smash the ball out of the park, but fall short when asked to anchor the innings like required in ODIs.
Two names stand out in my mind when talking about ignorance of the domestic tournaments – Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag. Yuvraj Singh had a wonderful Ranji season and Virender Sehwag made a few important knocks for his side. Although their performances in the Ranji Trophy were commendable, their failure in the IPL has resulted in their names not being put in the team for the tour of Bangladesh.
The aforementioned duo is not short of experience and neither is thinking of retirement. Virender Sehwag even went on record saying that he is not thinking for retirement for the coming 2 years.
On the other hand, Harbhajan Singh, who did not even play 5 matches for his Ranji side, but performed well in IPL was picked in the national team. What is shocking is that he was picked for the Test team! There is a massive difference between T20s and Test matches. Test cricket requires patience, stamina and a completely different state of mind apart from other fine details. However, in T20, the batsmen come with the mindset of hitting the bowlers out of the park and so takes more risks while batting.
The BCCI is setting a dangerous precedent
Plenty of players have come into the limelight due to the IPL. This is not a bad thing, but picking players based on their performance in a tournament which many view as entertainment, more than serious cricket, sets a dangerous precedent. Players are being picked on the basis of a few good knocks here and there in a tournament where the most established international stars fail to perform consistently.
Players, in order to be picked for the national side, have to perform well consistently. But, the trend of picking players for the national team in either the Test team or the ODI team based on performance in the IPL needs to be chucked out.
There is no doubt that performing in the IPL requires talent, but it is a different ball game as compared to Test or even ODI matches. A pinch hitter who can smash 30 off 15 balls is like gold in the IPL, but his talent comes up short in ODIs, which requires a delicate balance of hitting and anchoring. Bowlers who concede just 24 runs in their 4 overs without taking a wicket in the IPL are lauded, but the same figures wouldn’t be given a second glance in other formats.
There is no doubt to the fact that IPL is making India lose some of its Test and ODI players. The route to quick success, which the IPL provides, can harm India’s chances of becoming the top nation in formats other than T20. There needs to be a careful balance between “real” cricket and T20.