Indian domestic cricket November 25, 2010

Is dedication dying?

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
27

"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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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..

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.......

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mahi on December 4, 2010, 18:03 GMT

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

  • Harsh on December 2, 2010, 0:09 GMT

    "Is dedication dying?"

    Answer: No, and it never will.

  • 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..

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.......

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mahi on December 4, 2010, 18:03 GMT

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

  • Harsh on December 2, 2010, 0:09 GMT

    "Is dedication dying?"

    Answer: No, and it never will.

  • chennaicric on November 30, 2010, 10:42 GMT

    Don't judge the whole generation by the attitude of few youngsters. Really talented ones can adapt to all three formats. Didn't Dravid play well in IPL? or Doesn't Murali Vijay of current generation play very well in all three formats? I'm sure Pujara will excel in all three formats as well.

  • Chandni on November 29, 2010, 11:35 GMT

    Very nice observations made.This attitiude of our younger players is really annoying and does not go down with the fans well. Our league of gentlemen is on the fringe of retirement(kumble already did).Apart from Tendulkar Sir,Jammy,VVS & Kumble,the attitude and approach of all the players towards the game is same.The ticket to the indian squad isn't ranji trophy but the shortcut IPL which comes along fame & fortune.Hurling abuses after taking a wicket or making a century,spitting on the ground,the collisions &sledges seem 2 b a trend.It really makes me wonder if it's really a GENTLEMAN's game!

  • Jaideep on November 29, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    BCCI recently hiked test match fees to Rs 7 lac per test compared to Rs 4 lac and Rs 2 lac per ODI and T20. Is this going to change the attitude of youngsters towards test cricket ? Also I read somewhere that Gary Kirsten was plesantly surprised to find many young players had test cricket on their minds. Please comment Akash.

  • Srini on November 28, 2010, 18:30 GMT

    I think it is the change of times that one must learn to accept. The qualities and dedication that make one reach the heights of their potential will never change. With increased self worth and many avenues for entertainment in today's world due to tech advances and availability, it will become harder and harder to support long version of Cricket. Cricket will eventually follow the American Baseball type game where 'a result' is guaranteed for every match and in time frame of few hrs. That's the future direction.

    I agree that the stalwarts in the current Test team might be the last of the 'great' category for a while yet.

  • siba mohanty on November 28, 2010, 18:00 GMT

    Spot on, Akash. And I completely agree with Madan's comments. He is right in saying what he said about the experts who never lose time in eulogising the likes of IPL stars - the shortcuts.

  • Pavan Aditya on November 28, 2010, 16:10 GMT

    We are unnecessarily worried Akash. We never had a lot of these characters anyway. We had one Gavaskar, one Kapil,one Sachin, one Rahul, One Anil etc. They epitomised what we today call as Icons. We will find these coming our way once in a while. We will have these people coming in , but we cant find 11 of them at a time. This is a golden era where we have more than 5 of them at a time.

  • Narayanan on November 28, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    The situation is alarmist. Players who focus solely on the IPL riches would struggle even in 20 x 20 format. They may cash out for a season or two, but no more. As India's struggles in 20 x 20 shows, if you do not know to play the short ball you will be ruthlessly exposed at the highest level. Playing the short ball does not come without hours of practice. Hard work always has its value, be it cricket or any other profession. Success has no short cuts.

  • Puneet Miskeen on November 27, 2010, 18:54 GMT

    Very intriguing and scary thought... but something that is very plausible.

    Well written yet again Akash .. Just finished reading ur book. Loved every bit of it.

  • Anurag on November 27, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Rightly said by aakash.but dont worry,INDIA still has some youngsters who have different mindset about cricket.They know its not just slogging or having a strike rate of 200.00 in any format of cricket.The game has to be played in its traditional way and i still believe we will have a few more batches of the 'Fab Four'.

  • Sagar on November 27, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Yes!! i do agree the emphasis is more on scoring runs and quickly. and not to stand there and save the wicket. also fast bowlng standards should be higher at domestic level,so that players have to rely on technique and not just playing shots. that can improve next gen's batting standards.

  • Madan on November 27, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    I sympathize with the sentiments expressed here. But I also feel that - and please don't take this as a personal attack - somewhere, those former or contemporary cricketers whom we regard as experts on the subject and who commentate with mike or pen have lost the plot and themselves been indifferent of Dravid's methods and, on the flipside, far too indulgent in praising the Yusufs and Afridis. Need I mention Shane Warne's (in)famous rave in the IPL? In sports and art, large sections of the audience don't always 'know' and it is the duty of the experts to tell the boys from the men for them and to suggest whose example is worthier. Instead, for far too long and not just in cricket but other spheres of achievement, they have only lent their voices to media hype and 'validated' it. It is not surprising that aspiring cricketers would feel uncomfortable when they see Pollard being touted as a superhero and VVS as a dinosaur and think of the former as a more 'viable' example to follow.

  • Split Infinitive on November 27, 2010, 4:51 GMT

    Aakash:

    This is one of your best columns. Seriously. It captures the fear that all who love test cricket feel in a concise, coherent and high-impact manner. Kudos. As for the actual problem at hand, I fear that you are right - we will never see the likes of a Test Team India like this ever again, so enjoy it while it lasts folks!

  • Harsha Birur on November 26, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    Hello Akash, Its really a nice Blog, I usally read all your blogs. Ur right at what u have blogged at. At this moment of time, its pretty clear that current generation crickets dont have that 3 D's what Dravid, Kumble, srinath, Kapil bhai had earlier in their carriers. For every cricketer determination, dedication and discipline which made them to concor the world, scoring centuries against all countries.

    I am currently commenting for your blog from Hamburg Germany, where cricket is on nappies, yet to get its mantel. I am also playing for a club called Hamburger International Cricket Club (HICC) also a ACO designated umpire for North Germany.

    Since from my childhood i grown up watching Kumble, Sri and Rahul bhai, and Fan of them. Wish i see these guys once in my life time.

    Thanks Akash, Nice work keep it going.

    regards Harsha

  • prasanna on November 26, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    Rightly Said by akash chopra, ya in near future we may not any dravid,sachin kumble they only knew hard work and dedication,which we lost in youngsters . specially youngsters forgot playing test match

  • Anonymous on November 26, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    'This current set of players might be the last group who will see India at the top of Test rankings.'.....I fear that your statement might just be right.

  • Abhishek Mukherjee on November 26, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    Too late, Aakash. We should've thought of this in 2008. Whatever Packer didn't kill in cricket, Modi did. Why put in those extra hours when you can earn without them?

    Even if this generation produces a Rahul or two, the next one almost certainly won't.

    It hurts. More so, because people like me have lived this game for over a quarter of a century now.

  • Manoj on November 26, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    The observation is I dare say in tune with the mindset of this generation "Y+". Of the current crop which can replace the Fab 4; think dedication and discipline are adjectives that can be applied to Pujara, maybe Vijay (A few more names maybe). Attitude, Approach and consequently longevity always go hand in hand which explains the decade and more long stints crickets greats have had with the game. Coming from Aakash, a worrisome prediction indeed.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Manoj on November 26, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    The observation is I dare say in tune with the mindset of this generation "Y+". Of the current crop which can replace the Fab 4; think dedication and discipline are adjectives that can be applied to Pujara, maybe Vijay (A few more names maybe). Attitude, Approach and consequently longevity always go hand in hand which explains the decade and more long stints crickets greats have had with the game. Coming from Aakash, a worrisome prediction indeed.

  • Abhishek Mukherjee on November 26, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    Too late, Aakash. We should've thought of this in 2008. Whatever Packer didn't kill in cricket, Modi did. Why put in those extra hours when you can earn without them?

    Even if this generation produces a Rahul or two, the next one almost certainly won't.

    It hurts. More so, because people like me have lived this game for over a quarter of a century now.

  • Anonymous on November 26, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    'This current set of players might be the last group who will see India at the top of Test rankings.'.....I fear that your statement might just be right.

  • prasanna on November 26, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    Rightly Said by akash chopra, ya in near future we may not any dravid,sachin kumble they only knew hard work and dedication,which we lost in youngsters . specially youngsters forgot playing test match

  • Harsha Birur on November 26, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    Hello Akash, Its really a nice Blog, I usally read all your blogs. Ur right at what u have blogged at. At this moment of time, its pretty clear that current generation crickets dont have that 3 D's what Dravid, Kumble, srinath, Kapil bhai had earlier in their carriers. For every cricketer determination, dedication and discipline which made them to concor the world, scoring centuries against all countries.

    I am currently commenting for your blog from Hamburg Germany, where cricket is on nappies, yet to get its mantel. I am also playing for a club called Hamburger International Cricket Club (HICC) also a ACO designated umpire for North Germany.

    Since from my childhood i grown up watching Kumble, Sri and Rahul bhai, and Fan of them. Wish i see these guys once in my life time.

    Thanks Akash, Nice work keep it going.

    regards Harsha

  • Split Infinitive on November 27, 2010, 4:51 GMT

    Aakash:

    This is one of your best columns. Seriously. It captures the fear that all who love test cricket feel in a concise, coherent and high-impact manner. Kudos. As for the actual problem at hand, I fear that you are right - we will never see the likes of a Test Team India like this ever again, so enjoy it while it lasts folks!

  • Madan on November 27, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    I sympathize with the sentiments expressed here. But I also feel that - and please don't take this as a personal attack - somewhere, those former or contemporary cricketers whom we regard as experts on the subject and who commentate with mike or pen have lost the plot and themselves been indifferent of Dravid's methods and, on the flipside, far too indulgent in praising the Yusufs and Afridis. Need I mention Shane Warne's (in)famous rave in the IPL? In sports and art, large sections of the audience don't always 'know' and it is the duty of the experts to tell the boys from the men for them and to suggest whose example is worthier. Instead, for far too long and not just in cricket but other spheres of achievement, they have only lent their voices to media hype and 'validated' it. It is not surprising that aspiring cricketers would feel uncomfortable when they see Pollard being touted as a superhero and VVS as a dinosaur and think of the former as a more 'viable' example to follow.

  • Sagar on November 27, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Yes!! i do agree the emphasis is more on scoring runs and quickly. and not to stand there and save the wicket. also fast bowlng standards should be higher at domestic level,so that players have to rely on technique and not just playing shots. that can improve next gen's batting standards.

  • Anurag on November 27, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Rightly said by aakash.but dont worry,INDIA still has some youngsters who have different mindset about cricket.They know its not just slogging or having a strike rate of 200.00 in any format of cricket.The game has to be played in its traditional way and i still believe we will have a few more batches of the 'Fab Four'.

  • Puneet Miskeen on November 27, 2010, 18:54 GMT

    Very intriguing and scary thought... but something that is very plausible.

    Well written yet again Akash .. Just finished reading ur book. Loved every bit of it.