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August 16, 2012
Features : On again, off again: A timeline of the Pietersen saga
Rahul Dravid, the former India batsman, has said that creating a window for the Indian Premier League would not only let the world's best players participate in the lucrative domestic Twenty20 tournament but, importantly, also allow them to play Test cricket, thereby enlivening the longer format.
"The reality is the IPL is an important tournament and people do want to play it," Dravid said on BBC's Test Match Special at Lord's during the third Test between England and South Africa. "And we are probably coming to a stage where maybe a time will come [when] there will need to be give-and-take - whether it is finding a window, or, whether making the tournament a little shorter."
Dravid was asked by the TMS host Jonathan Agnew whether the IPL, a tournament that lasts for close to two months, had played a big role in Kevin Pietersen falling out with the ECB and losing support from his teammates, which led to him missing the Lord's Test. Dravid, who is in London to attend the MCC cricket committee meetings, was not sure if the IPL was the reason for the Pietersen debacle. He said a solution was necessary considering the IPL would continue to clash with the start of the England cricketing summer and Test cricket could not afford losing big names such as Pietersen and Chris Gayle.
Pietersen had stirred a controversy in April when he said England were jealous of the IPL. A month later, he retired from limited-overs cricket, saying he wanted to focus only on Tests. That decision came on the heels of exhaustive discussions with the ECB, where Pietersen said he wanted to play only Test and Twenty20 cricket. But the ECB central contracts state that any player who makes himself unavailable for either format of limited-overs cricket is automatically ruled out of selection for both ODIs and T20s.
"There are some positives with the IPL and you have to understand that if the top players in the world want to play it and people want to watch then there is got to be some thing good about it is as well," Dravid said. "It does effect the England season particularly, and, especially since traditionally the English season has been the same for many, many years. So it is challenging that a little bit.
"In time we are getting to that stage where all of us want the best players playing [Test cricket]. We all want Chris Gayle playing for West Indies whenever West Indies play a Test match. None of us want to see a situation today where a great player like Kevin misses out today for whatever reasons and I don't want to get into that. But it is disappointing. The game is a loser when the top players don't play Test cricket."
Dravid, who led Rajasthan Royals in the previous IPL, felt that for Test cricket to continue attracting fans and remain marketable, it was important that the best players were always available for selection. Leaving out the likes of Gayle and Pietersen, Dravid felt, would only drive the fans away.
"I am not sure what the solution to it is exactly but I would love to be in a situation where the best players can play the IPL as well as represent their country in Test cricket. People like Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen are fantastic for Test cricket as they are for IPL and T20 cricket. And they have a short window in which to show us their talent. At the end of the day this is the game for the fans. The best players should represent their country - it is not only about the people who come to the ground. It is also for the young boys and girls who passionately follow their country in Test cricket. It is hard and disappointing when the best players don't turn up to play for their country."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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