Indian domestic cricket February 28, 2011

Does being prolific in domestic cricket matter?

Is thriving in domestic cricket, scoring tons, and excelling in the longer format any good, after all
18

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • Harsha on October 29, 2012, 10:45 GMT

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Harsha on October 29, 2012, 10:45 GMT

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • ravi on March 2, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    is it not enough being a extraordinary feilder and excellent batsmen with an average of 83.14 in this ranji season..to get a ipl place..take the matter of B Sumanth who plays from andhra in ranji circut and represnted DC in last edition of ipl with whose feliding skills gilly and symo..made him to play as a feilder..doesnot even looked at this season...it is not only game but in ipl its also the local politics which matter....apart from that y he was not taken nobody knows...any idea akash

  • xoceter on March 2, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    The business of cricket is changing. If a player can be successful by "becoming a tad too flashy, brazen, restless, and ever so aggressive" and consistently score 40 runs in 25 balls, then he is a talented player who can be taught good technique.

    IPL will only help highlight such players. Cricket would benefit more with our Pandey's, Raina's, Kohli's much more than the ones who can spend time collecting centuries in Ranji matches. These guys have seen real pressure against decent oppositions and are always improving on their techniques.

    Catch them young, train them give them exposure and they'll deliver. IPL provides the best exposure to an audience who desire a certain kind of cricket - there is demand and you'd be a fool to miss out.

  • Karthick R on March 1, 2011, 18:26 GMT

    Hi Aakash, I must start off by saying that I have enjoyed reading all of your blogs as it gives the normal Indian cricket fan a look at the domestic structure. Also what really goes on in domestic cricket and how the players feel. Coming to your question, I feel the reason for the importance given to IPL by uncapped domestic players is due to the money and fame that it can provide. You stated yourself that domestic players are usually underpaid and the IPL gives a sense of security to players and their families. The probability is higher to be chosen as part of 200 "Indians" spread among the 10 franchises rather than being part of "30 probables" for the Indian team (also plagued by zonal quota system upto some level). Also you do get to share the dressing room with your childhood and Intl stars. Heck, now its a lot easier to open innings with Sachin or Sehwag in IPL than dreaming of opening with them in a ODI or test match.

  • Vinod Kannan on March 1, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    Its a tough call. Both are important and gives lots of exposure to the players. IPL gives an opportunity to compete with international players and also allows them to learn more. For example: Yusuf Pathan, what a talent recognition. Am sure if he wouldn't have played IPL he is not what he is today. At the same time PATHAN was able to make a comeback to Indian side is because of 210* he scored in the domestic cricket. Players should have a balance in their mind and their game. Pujara is a good player but branded as a Test cricketer. I don't think this is right to brand a player. Rahul Dravid proved he is worthy of playing all forms of cricket, even Pujara can. So, its upto the players to decide what they have to do and the balance they have in their mind for money and for the game.

  • Prakash on March 1, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Well, if Cheteshwar Pujara and , earlier, Akash Chopra have got IPL contracts, Ranji cricket must matter I guess.. Also,does 'success' mean an IPL contract? And who are these players who are being ignored?

  • venkatesh on March 1, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Akash has raised a very valid point. The selectors are the main culprits in this matter. Why are players like Mithun, Bhuvnesh Kumar,S.Aravind ignored for national selection while Umesh Yadav without any proven first class record is picked ahead of them. It is upto the selectors to reward the "true" performers.

  • sk on February 28, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    No Rajat you missed the point Akash Chopra is trying to make. Its not about Manish Pandey getting the chance. Its about players like Subramaniyam Badrinath, Ajinkya Rahane not getting the requisite exposure that could bring their names to the foray for selection into the longer forms of international cricket. This is despite these players scoring heavily in the domestic circuit. My point is that while selecting the national team for T20 cricket, by all means consider the IPL performances. But while selecting the team for tests and ODI consider the first-class and List A performances only. That way, I am sure if Manish Pandey has it in him to score heavily and regularly in first-class cricket he will get a call. Another thing I don't understand is the hullabaloo regarding young cricketers. Other teams are less concerned about playing younger cricketers than proven, experienced performers(eg. Hussey, Misbah) I feel that is one of the reasons we are missing out on talent

  • Rajat on February 28, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    It is in correct to say that it does not matter to play for state. Players like Manish Pandey have come to limelight because of IPL and scored heavily for Karnataka as well. But it is important to see that to play in IPL you need some extra qualities. ( Same can be said about today's cricket compared to 10 yrs back). If a batsman can not score 40 runs in 25 balls , he is unlikely to be considered good for IPL. Secondly IPL u face many times a good bowling attack, like ( MI had zaheer,malinga,harbhajan last year along side Bravo and Pollard ) There is a difference between scorinf against some good bowlers and some state level bowlers. Secondly there are some players who were heavily successful in domestic but failed in international. So its fair enough when people give importance to a good player in IPL.

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  • Rajat on February 28, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    It is in correct to say that it does not matter to play for state. Players like Manish Pandey have come to limelight because of IPL and scored heavily for Karnataka as well. But it is important to see that to play in IPL you need some extra qualities. ( Same can be said about today's cricket compared to 10 yrs back). If a batsman can not score 40 runs in 25 balls , he is unlikely to be considered good for IPL. Secondly IPL u face many times a good bowling attack, like ( MI had zaheer,malinga,harbhajan last year along side Bravo and Pollard ) There is a difference between scorinf against some good bowlers and some state level bowlers. Secondly there are some players who were heavily successful in domestic but failed in international. So its fair enough when people give importance to a good player in IPL.

  • sk on February 28, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    No Rajat you missed the point Akash Chopra is trying to make. Its not about Manish Pandey getting the chance. Its about players like Subramaniyam Badrinath, Ajinkya Rahane not getting the requisite exposure that could bring their names to the foray for selection into the longer forms of international cricket. This is despite these players scoring heavily in the domestic circuit. My point is that while selecting the national team for T20 cricket, by all means consider the IPL performances. But while selecting the team for tests and ODI consider the first-class and List A performances only. That way, I am sure if Manish Pandey has it in him to score heavily and regularly in first-class cricket he will get a call. Another thing I don't understand is the hullabaloo regarding young cricketers. Other teams are less concerned about playing younger cricketers than proven, experienced performers(eg. Hussey, Misbah) I feel that is one of the reasons we are missing out on talent

  • venkatesh on March 1, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Akash has raised a very valid point. The selectors are the main culprits in this matter. Why are players like Mithun, Bhuvnesh Kumar,S.Aravind ignored for national selection while Umesh Yadav without any proven first class record is picked ahead of them. It is upto the selectors to reward the "true" performers.

  • Prakash on March 1, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Well, if Cheteshwar Pujara and , earlier, Akash Chopra have got IPL contracts, Ranji cricket must matter I guess.. Also,does 'success' mean an IPL contract? And who are these players who are being ignored?

  • Vinod Kannan on March 1, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    Its a tough call. Both are important and gives lots of exposure to the players. IPL gives an opportunity to compete with international players and also allows them to learn more. For example: Yusuf Pathan, what a talent recognition. Am sure if he wouldn't have played IPL he is not what he is today. At the same time PATHAN was able to make a comeback to Indian side is because of 210* he scored in the domestic cricket. Players should have a balance in their mind and their game. Pujara is a good player but branded as a Test cricketer. I don't think this is right to brand a player. Rahul Dravid proved he is worthy of playing all forms of cricket, even Pujara can. So, its upto the players to decide what they have to do and the balance they have in their mind for money and for the game.

  • Karthick R on March 1, 2011, 18:26 GMT

    Hi Aakash, I must start off by saying that I have enjoyed reading all of your blogs as it gives the normal Indian cricket fan a look at the domestic structure. Also what really goes on in domestic cricket and how the players feel. Coming to your question, I feel the reason for the importance given to IPL by uncapped domestic players is due to the money and fame that it can provide. You stated yourself that domestic players are usually underpaid and the IPL gives a sense of security to players and their families. The probability is higher to be chosen as part of 200 "Indians" spread among the 10 franchises rather than being part of "30 probables" for the Indian team (also plagued by zonal quota system upto some level). Also you do get to share the dressing room with your childhood and Intl stars. Heck, now its a lot easier to open innings with Sachin or Sehwag in IPL than dreaming of opening with them in a ODI or test match.

  • xoceter on March 2, 2011, 6:44 GMT

    The business of cricket is changing. If a player can be successful by "becoming a tad too flashy, brazen, restless, and ever so aggressive" and consistently score 40 runs in 25 balls, then he is a talented player who can be taught good technique.

    IPL will only help highlight such players. Cricket would benefit more with our Pandey's, Raina's, Kohli's much more than the ones who can spend time collecting centuries in Ranji matches. These guys have seen real pressure against decent oppositions and are always improving on their techniques.

    Catch them young, train them give them exposure and they'll deliver. IPL provides the best exposure to an audience who desire a certain kind of cricket - there is demand and you'd be a fool to miss out.

  • ravi on March 2, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    is it not enough being a extraordinary feilder and excellent batsmen with an average of 83.14 in this ranji season..to get a ipl place..take the matter of B Sumanth who plays from andhra in ranji circut and represnted DC in last edition of ipl with whose feliding skills gilly and symo..made him to play as a feilder..doesnot even looked at this season...it is not only game but in ipl its also the local politics which matter....apart from that y he was not taken nobody knows...any idea akash

  • 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.

  • 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.