When a player plays for the Indian team, his physical fitness is the prerogative of the team physiotherapist. The physio, being privy to the medical history of a player and the team’s demands, manages the player’s workload in a manner that allows him adequate rest to ensure that the player peaks at the right time. Things are not quite the same when the same player represents an IPL franchise. Both lack of time to prepare and the dynamics of the tournament don’t allow the IPL team physio to address these issues properly. Hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if a few players pick-up injuries during the IPL, which force them to miss the subsequent tours with the Indian team. Right from the first edition of the IPL, the list of players who haven’t participated in the International series right after the IPL has been growing.
Is Technique, passé?
India’s dismal performance in overseas Test matches should send the alarm bells ringing. If it hasn’t, then the fact that the seniors are at the twilight of their illustrious career should, for they are going to leave a huge void. The growing popularity of the IPL may lure youngsters to sacrifice technique for flair and flamboyance. The trends are already emerging in domestic cricket where you’d find a lot more players exercising the easier option of hitting out of a tough situation. On the contrary, there will only be a handful of players who’d take the road less travelled of grinding it out in the middle. We will be required to address and arrest this problem or else we won’t produce players who know both the value and the art of batting for time on the basis of technical proficiency.
During a debate with a young audience, a kid asked me to provide valid reasons for him to play the longer format of the game. I did my best by explaining to him the finer nuances of the game and how Test cricket would allow him to understand the game a bit more and enhance his ability to view/play the game better. Despite my best efforts, I failed to turn him into a believer. He was completely enamored by the glitz and glamour of the IPL. That’s when I realized that we might be heading into an era in which kids may not want to play Test cricket at all. Previously, the coaches would punish a player for playing an aerial shot, damning it completely and calling it blasphemous. Now, with the advent of T-20 and IPL, they encourage 12 year olds to go over the top. In fact, I’ve seen coaches and parents giving their wards an earful if he played three dot balls in a row. The presence of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir might, for a bit, spur kids to take interest in the longer format too. But once they leave, young cricketers are bound to become far more vulnerable than ever before.
Our views on the IPL have wandered in the grey for long, about time we settle on whether we like it or not.