IPL influence needs careful managing - Hussain
Nasser Hussain has said the IPL, cricket's richest domestic Twenty20 tournament, will entice and exhaust players in the future if it is not carefully handled by national boards and their elite team support staff.
In an interview to ESPNcricinfo, Hussain said he was not, as was popularly believed, "hugely anti-IPL" but said its influence on young cricketers had to be handled carefully. "I have seen IPL and I know what it means to the Indian public, they love it, British Indians love it. It's a good tournament, but it will exhaust cricketers."
Following their 4-0 victory over India, Hussain said England's star players, "are going to be enticed by IPL money. Come and play, come and play. All of this cricket would have been on [television] in India. [Graeme] Swann, [Stuart] Broad and [Chris] Tremlett ... they'll all be offered decent money. And they need to be looked after by the board to make sure that they don't go. So that they are ready for Test matches in the future."
The IPL, lasting six weeks, has always been held at the start of the English season. "We don't need the players coming straight from that exhausted. When you get a bowler, it's like gold dust. You do not just let him go. You don't just say, 'oh fine, we can lose Anderson.' Because before you know it, they're all gone. And you're left scratching your head again. Look at India, look at Australia. Looking after this bowling unit and keeping them together is crucial for England at the moment."
He believed the IPL would pose challenges for the coaches of both teams in the future. "It's going to be [Andy] Flower's biggest challenge now. All this cricket [the Test series] Flower will have to say, 'come on, we need you to be bowling in Test matches'. It's going to be another one of [Duncan] Fletcher's biggest challenges. If India carry on with IPL, I believe it will hurt. It is now going to hinder them - as we have seen here - in Test match cricket. You need young bowlers to be fit and raring to go and the IPL is death for bowlers. It is noticeable that none of the England bowlers have played IPL."
England's newly acquired world No.1 status will have a deep impact on the sport's popularity base in England itself and the extra headlines could be distracting. Hussain said, "England has not been No.1 for sport, any sport for a long time, so these are going to be star names. There's going to be a lot of attention in England, there's going to be a lot of lucrative deals. They're going to be more recognisable so they don't need to let it go to their head, lose their focus."
Hussain said that while he was a fan of Twenty20 internationals, he believed that there was too much domestic Twenty20, including on the English domestic calender. "I just think they've just over-egged it, they've just over done it. I mentioned the IPL but even in England, there are far too many games for our domestic players, they are doing far too much travelling and too much cricket, they will be exhausted as well." He understood that counties played Twenty20 in order to handle struggling finances, but administrators had to keep in mind, "the future of the game. You are in charge of it. I think [Don] Bradman said all players, adminstrators, are all in charge of this game you are left with."
In international cricket, he said administrators had to handle overkill by balancing the 50- and 20-over formats. "I do believe you can cut down, specially one-day cricket. You don't need seven ODIs and a couple of T20I, have three one-dayers and three Twenty20s or something like that. Twenty20 will sell itself, you'll have sell out crowds everywhere, all these ODIs will be sold out. But that doesn't mean you have to do it just because it's bringing in money."
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo