October 27, 2009

Indian domestic cricket

A crowded, and sometimes chaotic, carnival

Aakash Chopra

Hello friends,

Imagine this - There are two nets and about 15 batsmen queuing up for a few throw downs. Quite chaotic, you might think. Before you start racking your brains let me tell you that it wasn’t some kind of competition or a coaching session. It was the scene at the nets every morning of our T20 tournament. There were four state teams playing in the two morning matches at two adjacent grounds but at the same venue. All teams shared the facilities right from the dining area to the lavatories. Only the dressing rooms were not shared as makeshift dressing rooms (a covered seating area) were erected for two teams at the adjacent ground. The scenes at the nets were quite interesting both on the eve of the match and every morning.

Firstly, batsmen were not allowed to use spikes while batting for the fear of ruining the surface. Well, would they tell the same batsmen not to wear spikes during the match? Then, since there were only two nets to accommodate players from four teams, none of the batsmen would get more than a few balls for throw downs. Is it the ideal preparation for a match?

Yet, a set up like this definitely helped in building up the camaraderie between players from different states. Sharing the same net for throw downs meant that a bowler from Punjab was bowling to a player from Delhi and Haryana along with bowling to a batsman from his own side.

You might wonder why the batsmen didn’t have a hit in an open area? Why were they crammed up in just two nets? The early morning dew makes the outfield quite wet. And of course, bats tend to spoil if played with a wet ball. Please don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming the hosts because there’s only so much they can do. The infrastructure is not meant to accommodate so many cricketers at the same time.

Then every state team had five matches in six days. At times the team which played the game in the afternoon, finishing at 5pm, was back at the ground at 8.30am the following morning to play their next game, staring at 10am. The teams which had back to back morning matches had it easy but only just. The morning match would finish at 1pm, with the next match scheduled for 10am the following day, sparing less than 24 hours for the player to rest and recover.

Also, we all realise that a T20 game doesn’t require as much effort as a fifty over game. But then why don’t we see other T20 leagues and tournaments around the world getting over in a week? Another problem along with high fatigue levels, perhaps leading to injuries, is that there’s hardly any time to recover. The loss which should hurt is not that bitter and the win is not that sweet either! After all there’s another game to be played in less than 24 hours. How long can you mull over a loss or celebrate a win?

Nevertheless, I’m tempted to call this T20 tournament a ‘carnival’ not because it lacked the seriousness of a tournament but for the environment it created. Ninety players from six states assembled every day, ate together, shared stories and renewed friendships. One rarely gets an opportunity like this.

Ciao

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Ponto on (March 2, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

i think its too early to come to such cinclusoons; indians have a track record of being highly inconsistent; win few and loose many; win in India and loose dearly, when we go overseas and the reason we give is, fast/bouncy wickets ..if australia are no:1 team, they have really earned it, by being consistent for years together; across all continents and in both versions of the game.so if india can maintain such consistency for years together and get home the world cup, then i guess thats the right time, we can call ourselves no:1 team or new australia. definetely not now. +2Was this answer helpful?

Posted by Shefali on (November 4, 2009, 10:29 GMT)

Aakash, well you can look at the positive side of things, Delhi qualified for the knock outs and ofcourse renewed friendships and the opportunity to interact with many others.I'm sure its truly an Indian experience and everyone involved would have an interesting story to share or atleast a new friend ;)

Posted by venkat on (November 3, 2009, 6:01 GMT)

My blood boils when I listen to all this. And to listen to Lalit Modi rattle on and on about how money has changed the way domestic cricket is organized in the country is a joke. I am an amaetur cricketer, and I am deeply in love with the game. I was never good enough to play at the top level, yet, I put on my whites and pay through my nose to play a match on a Saturday or a Sunday. Most games (one days or t20's) cannot be watched at grounds because the tickets are too damn expensive ( imagine having to cough up something like 1500 for 3 hours). Cricket is fast becoming a rich man's preserve and the infrastructure at the grass roots (When Ranji trophy cricketers dont have the facilities what hope do 10 year old boys have?) is ridiculous. The richest board in the world continues to get richer and the game is continues to suffer from the ills that plagued it 20 years back. Nothing changes in Indian cricket!!

Posted by Somnath on (November 2, 2009, 13:14 GMT)

It has to be carefully weighed while selecting the team. As long as we keep winning, it really does n't matter from which state the players are. However it will definitely hurts the south guys with none of the players are from the south.

Let us leave the matter to the selectors and enjoy the matches wishing India to win all of them.

Som

Posted by Solarax on (November 2, 2009, 10:26 GMT)

I agree with Ramgopal. There is no player from South to play for Team India?

Posted by Anon India (North, South, East & West) on (November 2, 2009, 0:08 GMT)

Hey Ramgopal... thank you for your great comment... lets bring out the quota system and take india to the dark days... are you serious.. man it is team India whether they all come from one state doesnt matter.... It is one India - dont bring any divisions to our great country

Posted by Ramgopal L on (November 1, 2009, 9:10 GMT)

Should the "Team India" be called as "Team North India"- I thought of sharing my views with all the crickets fans all round the world.

Posted by Sanjay on (October 29, 2009, 15:54 GMT)

Sidhanta, Are you trying to suggest that it's good to have under par facilities at a step below the international level??? Just because you'd appreciate the value of driving a car more if you have to walk 20 miles everyday...doesn't mean that one should walk 20 miles everyday even when you deserve to be driven...

Posted by Sidhanta Patnaik on (October 29, 2009, 2:50 GMT)

However I feel these things make Indian cricketers tougher! Part of the growth process. You will cherish the rewards more.

Posted by Neha J. on (October 28, 2009, 8:43 GMT)

As for what you've written'..I think we're immune to it now. I still blame the BCCI for everything that's going wrong in Indian cricket. They're a committe independent of the government, and are minting away to glory. Why then doesn't infrastructure improve at the micro level?! The BCCI really needs to buck up before things worsen in the domestic scenario..such lethargy is only presenting a bad image of Indian cricket to our international opponents!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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