Which is where I’d like to know what the selectors are up to in the first place, handsomely paid by the BCCI to do what? Watch as much age-group and domestic (not IPL) cricket as possible, scout for talent they believe would make the Indian setup and just keep doing that. Instead, I am happy to inform you that selectors often call up journalists and opposition players to find out about a player they’re interested in. Are they doing their job? Not to my mind, till you hear statements like “But under this selection committee, we won the World Cup. You didn’t write about this then?” Surely, the fact that they pick IPL performers for overseas A-tours is pretty much an indicator of the lethargy that we’re up against. If you’re paid to watch matches, jolly well watch it. If you can’t, quit job.
I’ve written about this before, and don’t feel shy of stressing this again, but please for flip’s sake, identify a bunch of bowlers and dispatch them to play county cricket in England. At the cost of repetition, it’s not just the skill that they get to improve there, but learn life as a professional, the burden of being an overseas pro and most importantly, learn to enjoy the game they love playing. Bowling close to 70-80 overs a week is perhaps the best way to get better, and there’s no better example than Zaheer Khan to prove that point. So, why not give this a try?
The likes of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav and all those identified could just learn that much more by playing more cricket than just sit back and watch reality shows on their telly screens, isn’t it? If the concern against sending them is really fitness and injuries as you claim, to quote your officials, “Injuries are a part and parcel of the game”.
NOT SO FIRST CLASS
Closer home, and this is where all the rot is, for your domestic first-class cricket is quite on the verge of redundancy. A points system, archaic at best, dull at worst is more in favour of negative (intent-less) teams than ones who prefer taking the game forward. An incentive of two points more for a win (from a draw) is all you could come up with. Worse, there are pitches out there which either account for 40 wickets in two days of cricket or close to 1500 runs in two unfinished innings. There’s no punitive action, no accountability for this pathetic state of wickets.
On the contrary, there’s no reward for some of the better wickets you see. You don’t have a world-class academy in place, where your next generation of cricketers could benefit from. Instead, the National Cricket Academy that your officials go gaga about are nothing but a glorified sick-bay/rehabilitation centre for your contracted cricketers.
Also, can you please give Test cricket the priority it deserves? And one doesn’t even have to get to the toilets in your stadiums. Why can’t you give them the best possible system to get better and succeed? Why this high tolerance level for mediocrity, O! BCCI?
As opposed to say the IPL, where everything is hunky-dory, a thirty-day long facade of professionalism and perfectness that the BCCI chooses to display. And this is where I’d like to confront them and ask – why can’t this streak of professionalism continue on an annual basis? Why this lack of enthusiasm and neglect towards first class cricket? Surely, it’s not pumping in the cash for your coffers, but hey, your Test cricketers quite clearly emerge from the runs and wickets they take in four-day matches.
Lastly and more importantly, I hope that India gets whitewashed in Australia. Call me unpatriotic (and I’ve defended a lot of that tripe in the past), but quite honestly, that could be the best possible result for Indian cricket’s long-term interest, in my view. Unless of course, they win the tri-nation ODI series and the Asia Cup to follow and we’re given the same old, “But we just won the ODI series and the Asia Cup, so I don’t think we should take knee-jerk decisions” rubbish by the BCCI.
And given that India’s schedule in the next 18 months is filled with one home series after the other, we might well be knocking on the World #1 door for the second time. Everything will be back to normal (if an ODI series win can hint at normalcy, imagine a home series-run) till the next away tour in 2013 and in denial, shall Indian cricket still remain.