Ideally senior players like Gautam Gambhir should have missed the IPL after the World Cup and made themselves available for ODI series in Caribbean. But it was clear where their priorities were © AFP
Ideally senior players like Gautam Gambhir should have missed the IPL after the World Cup and made themselves available for ODI series in Caribbean. But it was clear where their priorities were © AFP


 

By Dileep V

 

Sachin Tendulkar’s toe injury and his subsequent withdrawal from the squad is the latest in a series of blows for the beleaguered Indian team. It also angered those against the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the harm it’s causing to the more important national interest of Test cricket.

 

It all started with Virender Sehwag not being fit for the first two Tests. Then Zaheer Khan’s injury on Day One of the first Test meant IPL was under the scanner for all the wrong reasons. The casualty list got longer with every passing day – Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh got injured during the Tests series and Rohit Sharma saw his finger broken in the first ODI.

 

With Tendulkar’s loss, India have now lost seven off the eleven who took the field in the World Cup final against Sri Lanka. Any team would suffer after losing more than half of their preferred first eleven and India is no different.

 

But should the IPL be blamed for this predicament?

 

Franchise owners have shelled out millions of dollars and cannot be blamed for wanting their top players available when required. They are looking at IPL as a business venture and want to optimise their profits from their mega investments. In some way, that makes the players corporate slaves. But the players also have a greater responsibility towards their country. And that’s where there is a clash of interests.

 

The BCCI would comply with the owners as their participation is of prime importance for running IPL and CLT20.

 

That a powerful functionary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India – N Srinivasan – is also the owner of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and, as a result, having a vested interest in the IPL, makes the clash of interests far more severe. If Srinivasan wanted to be an IPL owner, he should have morally resigned his plum post in the BCCI. That the captain of the Indian team is also the captain of CSK has given more ammo to those against the IPL and the harm its causing Test cricket.

 

Leading into the World Cup, India had been on the road since October 2010 playing eight Tests, 11 ODIs and one T20 international. Then the World Cup itself was one hell of ride for the Indian players – both physically and mentally. After successfully toiling for over 40 days, the Indian players plunged straight into the energy-sapping IPL with little rest. Players like Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Tendulkar played through the T20 tournament with injuries.

 

Once IPL got over, many of the top players like Tendulkar, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Gambhir and Zaheer missed the ODI series in the West Indies. Ideally, these players should have missed the IPL and made themselves available for the ODI series in the Caribbean. But it was clear where their priorities were.

 

There is already an outrage about Gambhir – back home after injured in England – being included in the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team for CLT20 2011 starting on September 19. If the other eight injured players also follow suit and play CLT20, then the debate of Country vs Club will be taken to another level and the integrity of the players and the role of BCCI as a facilitator to this will be questioned big time. With the entire nation fighting against corruption and wanting transparency, BCCI will be forced to mend their ways. And unlike the past, there is no escape this time – especially after India’s disastrous tour of England.

 

(Dileep.V is a Scouser fan, Sports freak, Movie buff, Laggard Quizzer and dreams of setting foot on Anfield one day)