November 25, 2010

Indian domestic cricket

Is dedication dying?

Aakash Chopra
Rahul Dravid cracks one through the off side, 3rd Test, Nagpur, 3rd day, November 22, 2010
Will we not see another Rahul Dravid in the future?  © AFP
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"Congratulations Rahul Bhai! D of Dravid stands for determination, dedication and discipline," I tweeted after Rahul completed his 31st Test century and the second against New Zealand in this series.

These attributes may be highly effective, but not attractive anymore, felt a couple of people who commented on the post. And that remark took me back to a conversation I'd had with a 19-year-old kid who is trying to break into the first-class circuit. This player has played for India colts and is indeed a promising youngster. He says he doesn't want to be like Dravid. "What good is a life dedicated to only cricket and nothing but cricket," he'd said. "It's quite obvious that his life has always revolved around the game and despite scoring so many more runs than the others, he isn't as popular with the youngsters.

"It's not just restricted to Dravid bhai but all the players who play just Test cricket (obviously he's unaware of Dravid's 10000-plus ODI runs). Who knows of Samaraweera and his Herculean test average? But everyone knows of Shahid Afridi and Yusuf Pathan. I want to be like them."

It's not like he does not respect Dravid's accomplishments. In fact he seems to be in awe of him and his achievements but is perhaps too scared to follow in his footsteps, for it demands sincerity and discipline of the highest order. He confesses it's too much hard work for way too long. When something similar or perhaps better, in his eyes, can be achieved with slogging then why tire yourself, batting for countless hours? In any case, who wants to go back to school again, was his thinking.

But is this how the next generation is thinking? The more I interact with the younger lot, especially the ones who have had a taste of the money and fame brought by the IPL, the more certain I become that the best Test cricketers India will ever see, are the current lot.

And it's not just the attitude but also the approach towards the game which vindicates my point. In another junior cricket game, two openers had been batting together. One, had an IPL deal, and the other was searching for one. The guy who hadn't got the IPL contract was technically more solid than the other. But he was the one who's throwing caution to the winds, for he not only wanted a contract but was also desperate to change people's opinion of him. To be called a player suited only for the longer format isn't something to be proud of; in fact today it is actually considered offensive.

The scales are heavily tilted in favour of the ones playing in the money-spinning IPL with regard to both money and recognition, and in some cases even selection. And if nothing is done soon enough to change that rather warped perception, at the risk of sounding cynical, this current set of players might be the last group who will see India at the top of Test rankings.

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: Social media, Socio-cultural, Technique,

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Posted by Vish on (January 24, 2011, 1:49 GMT)

I'm a big fan of RD & totally agree with ur point.I think the future cricket players will be more "shrewd", pardon me for using this word, but thts what i strongly feel.. They wont be dedicated but shrewd n smart in making both money & fame in quick time , thanks to IPL.well nothing wrong in it.. But what ICC has to look at is to keep the Test game alive by making slight amendements to the game and make it more competitive n Rewarding..

Posted by Girish on (January 2, 2011, 17:01 GMT)

If Vijay can apply himself,the foreseeable future can be sure of another Dravid.He has the tenacity and the dedication,not to forget his talent,technique and skill. He has to develop some patience and then,we would have another Dravid waiting in the wings for India.

Posted by The Professor on (December 14, 2010, 9:18 GMT)

Perhaps the best way to fix the problem is cap the player salaries at IPL to below that of Test level - this will be one way of getting the players to strive for the highest honour. Given some players would just be happy to sit on the IPL salary but these would be the ones with low aim/ motivation. The best would still have a reason to reach for the sky!

Posted by SAB on (December 9, 2010, 9:02 GMT)

Very nice blog!!!!!!! I am from Pakistan and we did the same things some 10 years back, made Afridi a star over much solid players like Asim Kamal or Asif Mujtaba, and see our test cricket die......... And now even the ODI cricket under the influence of shorter format. Ask anyone Umer Akmal is more popular than the much solid and dedicated Azhar Ali......... in this way I think the world cricket will die.......

Posted by Ashish on (December 9, 2010, 4:49 GMT)

Interesting, but I am not fully convinced. IPL is a phenomena in India. But if a player is really trying to prove himself, he knows he has to succeed in Test and T20 played by countries. The quality of cricket played in IPL and across countries is not even close. A player can make a living out of IPL, but not prove that he is a true master of his trade. What is needed is better marketing of test and T20 cricket played by countries. In long-run I hope the incentives monetary or otherwise will balance out and keep the talented cricketers interested in better cricket, i.e., Test and T20 played by countries (not Bangladesh vs. Zimbabwe). Go budding Pujara's!! Prove that you are the AR Rehmans of cricket not Himesh Reshammiyas.

Posted by Abhijith Radhakrishnan on (December 9, 2010, 4:12 GMT)

Yes I strongly feel that dedication of some of the younger cricketers is questionable. See the example of Suresh Raina. He has scored loads of runs on flat trac but when he is exposed to semaing or swinging conditions or on fast and bouncy wickets and against quality bowlers he seems to be like a fish out of water. He cant survive and at the same time when a bowler is in amiddle of a good spell and he is not showing signs of improving and same mistakes are repeated again.If that is repeated then the younger guys are in for a tough time in SA.

Posted by Sameer on (December 6, 2010, 15:21 GMT)

Aakash this blog couldn't be any better my god this blog of yours is one of my favourite blogs.You have a great sense of thinking not only that you also give us the message in a fantastic manner. Great article once again.

Posted by Shreesha S Bhat on (December 6, 2010, 14:27 GMT)

I think we're being a little too paraniod when we say IPL and Modi have killed cricket. While it's true lot of youngsters are playing for an IPL deal, does anybody think of the condition of domestic cricketers before the era of T20 began? I remember reading in a magazine that sometimes they even had to pay for their own railway tickets. The money was just restricted to the elite 14-15 who got to play for India. IPL has helped them earn money. After all everybody has to earn a living.

Plus, let's not forget, before IPL it was unimaginable for a rookie teenager to share a dressing room with several of the game's greats all at a time. The benefits they earn from this are tremendous. IPL may be detrimental to some aspects of the game, but its advantages outweigh them.

Posted by Mahi on (December 4, 2010, 18:03 GMT)

boring!!...akash we still have plenty of dedicated guys as myself..

Posted by Harsh on (December 2, 2010, 0:09 GMT)

"Is dedication dying?"

Answer: No, and it never will.

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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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