February 28, 2011

Indian domestic cricket

Does being prolific in domestic cricket matter?

Aakash Chopra
Chennai Super Kings celebrate their IPL triumph, Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, IPL final, DY Patil Stadium, April 25, 2010
The IPL has become a parameter to judge a player for national selection  © Indian Premier League
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

Is thriving in domestic cricket, scoring tons, and excelling in the longer format any good, after all? I am beginning to wonder, for let's face it, the franchises, understandably, care a zilch about your scores in the Ranji Trophy. A player could have well put on view both the temperament and the technique essential to succeed in the coveted championship, but it is still not enough to bag a ticket to the IPL.

But, that's not the league's fault, you may say. It's a Twenty20 championship that requires a particular skill set, which some domestic cricketers may or may not possess. And hasn't the IPL anyway picked up many a domestic players and made stars out of them in a span of just three years? While I don't dispute that, there's still an issue lurking, almost lost, in the whiff of the aromatic IPL. It involves that crop of players who are not suited to play the slam-bang cricket, and who are beginning to wonder if playing and excelling in the IPL is bigger than representing their state in domestic cricket.

Till a few years ago, a domestic player played for peanuts, while the recognition for his skill was even lesser. All that mattered was to play for the country, while everything else was either inconsequential or simply stop-gap. But the IPL changed it all. Besides being ever so lucrative, and a sure-shot way to instant stardom, it actually, and quite bafflingly, became a parameter to judge a player for national selection.

What makes matters worse for these domestic players, who are stamped as "Test players", and ignored by the league on this very pretext, is that they are now being looked right through even for a selection to the higher berths, in spite of prospering in the Ranji Trophy. These players are pigeonholed to play a certain brand of cricket and nobody is willing to give them a fair run to showcase their talent in the shortest format. Their agony is doubled when they see their peers, some of them not even good enough to play for their state, stealing a march over them and enjoying plum IPL deals. Quite a double whammy.

Pity, they are contemplating a change in their batting style, becoming a tad too flashy, brazen, restless, and ever so aggressive, even if it means going for cheap in the "lacklustre" longer format. But, even as they do get swept off by the winds of change, they continue to feel as insecure as they did a few years ago. Nothing, not the IPL, not even the Ranji Trophy, has succeeded in making these rather brilliant players feel safe.

A place in the Ranji side is as unpredictable as the outcome of the next innings, for past laurels can only take a player so far. While the pay packets for Ranji players have gotten better, their chances of getting a promotion haven't. My question, though, is larger - Why has playing in the IPL become so important? So much so, that it is either as good as playing for the country or not playing cricket at all. Think over.

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

RSS Feeds: Aakash Chopra

Keywords: Socio-cultural

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Oscar on (November 10, 2012, 21:34 GMT)

The very root of your writing wsilht appearing agreeable at first, did not sit well with me after some time. Someplace throughout the sentences you were able to make me a believer unfortunately only for a very short while. I still have a problem with your leaps in logic and you might do nicely to help fill in all those gaps. If you can accomplish that, I would surely be impressed.

Posted by Harsha on (October 29, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

This article really puts in perspective the woes of a Robin Bist, or a Abhinav Mukund .

Posted by iphone Games on (April 10, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

i think it's a tough call on the ranji player coz they say that class is permanent so it doesn't matter what is the format if you hace class you san play any format.one of the best example is Rahul Dravid who was the lone run getter in IPL-1 for the Royal Challengers

Posted by saurab punjabi on (August 31, 2011, 10:02 GMT)

friends...whatever may be the discussion, but main focus of indian cricket associatio or BCCI should be first on fitness..friend indian players are better in technique,hard work but but the main hindrance to success at international level is fitness........see the bulging biceps,triceps,thigh muscles,calf,back wings,chest etc etc of foreign players....even if they have moderate technique they need slight push to hit a six....and for hitting the same shot our indian player have to squeeeze whole body and gets exhausted for next ball.....see the difference,,,,,,,,,,Suppose if rahul dravid physique could have been like BELL OR Symonds.....rahul could have scored 100 more centuries....so indians please look at ur body first....its sports..its not a acting...its not a management...its not a education...,,u need first a muscular healthy fit body even to play...then selectors will decide ur destiny....so mentality regarding physique needs to be changed so that we can have healthy fit indians

Posted by Devavrat on (June 29, 2011, 10:18 GMT)

The fault is actually a mixture of many factors. We have stopped giving importance Ranji, Duleep and Challenger trophies. We have internatiaonal fixtures running in parallel to Ranji finals ! While all international assignments are shelved by BCCI when its IPL time. Somebody mentioned that Manish Pandey is an IPL find. Manish came into limelight playing for Karnatak in Ranji final and so far is a disaster in IPL. The young Indians are dazzled by the lights and drama of IPL and are desparate for contracts. But take a moment, who are the IPL stars ? Stalwarts like Kallis, Sachin etc. That too is cricket, but one which translates in to money faster. BCCI needs to give domestic preference over other engagements. A minimum of domestic performance and appearance has to be set for selection in IPL and international, forcing everyone to perform consistently. National players should be used in rotation, 2 yrs intl., 1 yr domestic, to maintain the high standards of domestic.

Posted by VijayTL on (June 7, 2011, 12:05 GMT)

Of course it is beneficial to perform at the domestic level. It provides a platform for the next stage. The next stage in Indian cricket is now the IPL. If you perform in the IPL then you have put yourself in a fantastic position to play for India. Critics would say that performing well in a T20 tournament is not a yardstick for success in International cricket. I would tend to disagree to an extent as the IPL gives you the opportunity to compete against International players - you do not get this in domestic cricket.

Posted by AMJITH on (April 18, 2011, 21:45 GMT)

international cricket is not just about skills but also about handling pressure. a player who proves himself in a pressure cooker situation in ipl can be trained to nourish skills.

Posted by Sagar on (March 24, 2011, 7:54 GMT)

IPL should not be the parameter to judge any player for ODIs. for T20Is, its OK.... for ODIs list A matches should be consider....

Posted by Live IPL Score on (March 7, 2011, 4:00 GMT)

I completely agree it is indeed very agonizing. Players like Manish Pandey are being picked up and other players are still not recognized.

Posted by Ashok Rajamani on (March 2, 2011, 20:08 GMT)

Akash, I can see where you are coming from but your observation is not correct. IPL has been good for some flash in the pan players. Some players have shone in the IPL for a few matches or even a season and then faded away (eg. Asnodkar, Goni). But players who have consistently done well in the IPL have also done well in the Ranji (eg. Ashwin, Sidharth Trivedi, Manish Pandey). You can bring up Kieron Pollard, but I would say he is likely to do very well in Ranji, if you can get him interested.

But reality is not going to disappear: they both demand slightly different skills sets. Only some people have the skill to do well in IPL. And it is the IPL that people want to watch, not because of some dastardly scheme by BCCI and the corporates, but because it is quicker and more intensely entertaining.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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.

All articles by this writer