November 22, 2010

Indian domestic cricket

The new rule book for IPL qualification

Aakash Chopra
Uncapped fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat at a training session, Bangalore, October 7, 2010
If Jaydev Unadkat was to play 60% of domestic games before getting a go in the IPL, would he still have become India's fourth-choice medium-pacer?  © Getty Images
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As you would know by now that I'm both a purist and a huge fan of domestic cricket and it goes without saying that any move which makes the longer format and domestic cricket significant enough, is welcomed by me.

The Indian board is making serious efforts to ensure the importance of domestic cricket isn't wasted on the players and hence have come out with a rule book with regard to a domestic cricketer's participation in the IPL. While a ceiling for their earnings via the cash-rich IPL has already been fixed, the new ruling states that one must play at least 60% of the domestic matches played by the player's respective state side. In addition to that, he must also obtain an NOC from his state association. Only then can he participate in the IPL. While the intent behind the move seems to be both in the interest of the game and the players, the larger impact is worth pondering over.

The first case I'm looking at is that of the highest run scorer in the domestic Twenty20 competition, Chetan Sharma. His batting is tailor-made for the slam-bang format, but quite obviously lacks the temperament and technique to last in the longer version of the game. In all likelihood, he won't be able to fulfil the 60% representation criteria and would have to ask the Board for special permission which he may or may not get. Assuming that not everyone gets the special permission, what would be the yardstick for such permissions, I wonder. And if everyone would eventually be allowed, then why seek one?

Now, is it really necessary to be a good player in all formats to earn your living? Not too long ago, it was the other way around. People who weren't well-versed with the Twenty20 format were treated as second-class citizens, given that a domestic player is identified with his IPL franchise and if you don't have one, you merely exist as just a cricketer. Now, if you aren't playing in the longer format (which means you aren't earning well, in any case), you can't also play in the format you prefer and make money. The world doesn't exist peacefully in extremes, for there has to be room for everyone.

If playing domestic cricket was so vital then why did we include the clause that every franchise must hire two Under-22 cricketers, in the first place? In fact a lot of franchises were also encouraged to take India Under-19 cricketers on board, if not for the current season, then for future editions. Jaydev Unadkat was one of the players distributed amongst eight franchisees by the draw of lots. One look in the IPL was enough for him to jump the queue and get picked for the India-A team which toured England. Mind you, he played his first first-class match as an India-A cricketer in England. Now, he's the fourth-choice medium pacer in Test cricket, but it may not have happened if he was to play 60% of domestic games before getting a go in the IPL.

Finally, the case of obtaining a presumably simple NOC from the state association - why would Mumbai allow young left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh to play in the IPL? I wouldn't; if I was heading the organisation, for he is one of the few guys who still flights the ball and is suited for the longer format. There is a real threat of him losing his way to suit the demands of the Twenty20 format. But what if he isn't given the NOC? Will someone pay for the financial losses he would incur?

What do you make of this? Your opinion.

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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Keywords: Player management

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Posted by Sagar on (March 24, 2011, 8:05 GMT)

I think dhawal kulkarni should have given a chance to play... he is a promising bowler with his off cutters and leg cutters...

Posted by chetan on (December 12, 2010, 16:45 GMT)

I think the domestic cricket is important but it should't be linked to ipl such as BCCI has done.I find this really unfair for the young and naturally gifted players.Domestic cricket has its own importance.As far as ipl is concerned their should be no criteria for the indian cricketers to play in ipl as it was in the previous ipl seasons.If the player is talented enough he should stand a chance to play in the ipl.

Posted by Ashok Rajamani on (November 29, 2010, 6:44 GMT)

I agree with some of the posters. BCCI is just cutting the wings of the franchises. I wouldnt be surprised if the franchises start suing BCCI because they have clearly overpaid for their teams. Expect the IPL to come to a grinding legal halt within a year, assuming the current season even takes place.

Posted by venkat on (November 23, 2010, 3:52 GMT)

Wonderful article, Akash. My suggestion is that no cricketer, whatever his first class or international experience or lack of it,should be allowed to play the IPL until the age of 25.

Posted by Chetan Asher on (November 22, 2010, 14:57 GMT)

Akash, stop beating about the bush & say it in plain English - BCCI does not believe in things like ethics & integrity. They just want dictatorial control over everything to do with cricket in India. There will be the image of a fair contract auction. However, BCCI will use its "discretion" to sanction exception for some & refuse for others depending on what suits their undisclosed purposes. A complicated policy to ensure that everyone has to ask for an exception to earn their living alongwith arm-twisting to eliminate competition helps.

Posted by eoinsmith001 on (November 22, 2010, 14:39 GMT)

Insane. Must have been written up by a lawyer, to ensure plenty of future work. Anyone who doesn't get into the IPL will be able to appeal against any or all of this; discrimination, diminished earnings, opaque criteria, arbitrary NOC decisions, etc, etc. Talk about shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

Posted by MM on (November 22, 2010, 12:07 GMT)

Would the players have to pay a cut of their earnings to the corrupt state officials for the NOC?

Posted by jitendra on (November 22, 2010, 10:57 GMT)

Instead of making it more open, BCCI is hell bent on giving more powers to state associations. The selection trials at junior levels are not always fair. The population of this country is above one billion and the there are many players who do not get fair chance to represent their states and here the IPL teams become important where they conduct their own trials and select young players who have still not played any major tournament under BCCI.

Posted by Sriraj G S on (November 22, 2010, 9:35 GMT)

Another very good article from you Aakash! It is an important point of view you have raised for the BCCI to mull over. But why can't this encourage players to become more versatile to excel in all the formats? We have seen that all over the world, the top cricketers are able to adapt themselves to each format well on their way to the top. Eg: Tendulkar, Hodge, AB de Villiers, Malinga, Kumble...Though I personally would watch Ranji rather than IPL!

Posted by Crickeyt on (November 22, 2010, 8:26 GMT)

Aakash, let us quit moving in circles around the real issue and state things in plain terms. This is just a move by the BCCI to retain control over the players. In a single move, they have cut down both player power and franchise power.

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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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