Harsha Bhogle
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Commentator, television presenter and writer

What's wrong with missing a tour or two?

Until the international calendar takes player fatigue into consideration, cricketers will be forced to opt out of some series to keep themselves mentally fresh and physically fit

Harsha Bhogle

June 3, 2011

Comments: 189 | Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar is animated in the field, Mumbai Indians v Pune Warriors, IPL 2011, Mumbai, April 20, 2011
The IPL offers players financial incentives that international cricket doesn't, so it's understandable that they would choose the league over national duty © AFP
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Increasingly the end of a series or a tournament resembles the end of an over, with players merely ambling away before getting ready again. It has been inevitable that a degree of prioritisation would set in. If someone cannot play every day, he will choose what he wants the most, and that is why I am not surprised at all at the reluctance of some Indian players to go to the West Indies.

Sadly, in spite of the atmosphere and its people, a tour of the West Indies is down the pecking order a bit. The fall in cricketing fortunes is invariably accompanied by a fall in prestige and, in this case, in revenues from television rights. If India's top players don't go, interest drops, advertisers are less enthused and television rights-holders earn less. And not being charitably disposed, they are bound to extract what they can from the authorities who sold them the rights.

In any case, to expect the best to turn up every day is asking for too much. People get tired, they get out of bed not desirous of conquering the world but with a moan. When you choose cricket as a profession, you do so because you love it more than anything else. But from time to time you need to stoke the fire, to rekindle the ambition, to miss playing cricket. Playing every day can leave you immune to the riches you possess. Of course, many other professions do not have such options, but they also don't have 24-hour news channels ascribing motives to their actions.

So two realistic options present themselves. If you want your best all the time, then you only play a certain amount of cricket. Otherwise, if the bottomline matters - and it is not immoral for it to matter - you get used to seeing different players playing at different times; which is what has happened now. Players want to play in England because it is a bigger stage, and that means they cannot play in the West Indies. It happens all the time. Athletes want to prepare for the big international season and so they miss the Commonwealth Games. Tennis players want to prepare for a Slam event and so they skip the Davis Cup.

And the news for all those in the business of embracing doom every evening is that something good can come out of Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag not going to the Caribbean. They could go to England recharged. Better still, you can check if S Badrinath's remarkable consistency at home can be replicated at international level. Or whether Virat Kohli's obvious class makes him a strong option in the middle order. Sometimes resting the stars can throw up options not hitherto considered.

Amid all this lies the other argument: that everyone could have played everywhere if it hadn't been for the villainous IPL. I get the feeling sometimes that the IPL is seen as the evil daughter-in-law from the Hindi soaps, out to ruin a family; that playing in the IPL is like accepting a back-hander in a contract or selling illicit liquor. Or worse.

The IPL is now a legitimate tournament that must take its place in the calendar and sit amid the priorities that players must consider. It is not a rogue or renegade tournament, and making money playing sport is one of the more respectable ways of earning a living - certainly given the other methods we read of increasingly these days. And given that the BCCI organises both, the IPL and bilateral international cricket, the club-versus-country debate gets a bit irrational.

Club cricket is a sign of our times. It is a force that can no longer be bottled, for commerce would otherwise find another outlet. One hundred and sixty million viewers watched it this year, so the people must like it, even if occasionally some displeasure is stated here and there. I don't know where the IPL sits in the hierarchy of desires at the moment (does it sit below India v England and above India v West Indies?) but it cannot be wished away. I would believe that its strength must lead to a fresh look at the international calendar rather than merely stuffing it up with more. You can only put so many shirts in a drawer; beyond a point you have to take some out to shut it.

So what the ICC and the BCCI are not doing, players and market forces are. If calendars are not rescheduled, we will see more players missing tours. And, I believe, that may not be such a bad thing.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator on IPL and international cricket, as well as a television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

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Posted by   on (June 6, 2011, 21:33 GMT)

Have always been an admirer of Harsha but this article is a let down .Whenever anyone suggests that playing in the ipl is more important then representing your country one wonders why ?? Sachin , Gautam , Dhoni , Zaheer and maybe even Yuvraj would have been in the West Indies now if it was nt for the IPL . Though Harsha tries to justify by giving examples of Tennis players and athletes one has to wonder why he doesnt give examples of Football players who have to turn up for their country or else risk being banned from playing for their club .One cant ignore the big money offered by the ipl but one shouldnt forget that the big bucks are reserved for players who have represented India in some capacity . With the increased notion of the BBCI bullying word cricket I seriously have to wonder whether Journalists/Commentators eg Harsha Bhogle arent bullied into writing articles supprting IPL over country .Sorry Harsha as an Indian I am disappointed with the stars

Posted by   on (June 6, 2011, 9:06 GMT)

Do you know mr.bulty kapil dev had experienced around 7 nos of knee operation during his carrier for his fitness..here sachin is in not a "badworkman",he is a all time performer in all form of cricket,obviously he needs rest before england tour..

Posted by vinjoy on (June 6, 2011, 7:54 GMT)

One of the rarest instances when I DO NOT AGREE with Harsha. Probably, he too gave up for the so called *society and demands* paradigm shift. Otherwise, how on earth can he not advocate for international players to SKIP IPL for WI tour, Could any cricketer DARE to skip WI test series in 1980s or in 1990s?

BCCI was already blind with $$$ flashing, ICC had been a mute witness and now the players sense the opportunity to DARE.

Just for a moment, a cricketer should recall the day when he was playing first class cricket and he LONGED to play ONLY ONE MATCH for India. I wish they could sense what they are doing for IPL cash machines.

Posted by breathecricket on (June 6, 2011, 5:38 GMT)

As a cricket fan I would like to get answers for the following questions:

1. We won a world cup after 28 years (I was studying 8th Standard in 1983 and now my son is studying his 8th). We won it so nicely. We were the favourites and we proved we were the best. We could not even cherish the moment. And the IPL jamboree has started. Is that scheduling. Yes the board could not have known that India would won the world cup. But still there is no time even for stock taking after a major event.

2. Sachin does not play 20-20 cricket for the country. But he does play 50-50 and tests. So what is more important - the tour of windies in the format he plays or the 20-20? He plays the 20-20 and skips the tour to west Indies. BCCI says they are resting him? What is the message they are sending to the whole lot of youngsters? We are communicating clearly that money is ahead of everything else & we are capable of justifying it.

More questions to ask. But it limited to just 1000 words.

Vaidy

Posted by   on (June 5, 2011, 21:03 GMT)

IPL is compulsory now but the only option available is to shorten the format of IPL i.e 10 teams playing only once against each other, fit it in 3 weeks. smaller IPL means less club cricket, less injuries and more rest for players to keep them physically and mentally fit for international calendar. only in this way ICC can grant a permanent spot for IPL. 5 international players per team means enouggh competition and less shortage of indian grown talent..

Posted by S.N.Singh on (June 5, 2011, 17:30 GMT)

THE IPL SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A "SIDE JOB" FOR CRICKETERS. IT IS A SECOND JOB FOR CRICKETERS OF ALL WALKS OF LIFE TO MAKE SOME MORE MONEY. IF THEY HAVE A LITTLE POTENTIAL. SURELY, WEST INDIES POLLARD TO PROVE THAT. I DOUBT IF POLLARD CAN MAKE THE WEST INDIES SIDE BUT HE IS GIVEN A CHANCE WITH LITTLE TALENT TO MAKE SOME MONEY. WHERE AS TENDULKAR, SEHWAG, YUVRAJ, GHAMBIR, DRAVID HAD TO PLAY AN IMPORTANT BUT "STRAINOUS ROLE". tHEY DID WELL TO COPE. I HAVE SAID THIS BEFORE THAT TENDULKAR SHOULD ONLY PLAY 5 DAYS CRICKET TO KEEP INDIA ALIVE ON THE SEEN. THE PEOPLE WANT TO SEE TENDULKAR. TENDULKAR MUST KNOW HIS POTENTIAL AND WHAT ENERGY HE HAS AND WHAT HE WANT TO DO. BUT GAVASKAR TOLD HIM SOMETIME AGO ABOUT THAT 15,000. RUNS. I THINK HE HAS MORE THAN THAT. THE PLAYERS MUST KNOW WHAT THEY WANT. S .N SINGH USA

Posted by dit1 on (June 5, 2011, 13:58 GMT)

@BULTY - its simple today cricketers play much much more than during kapils time. Hence more injuries.

Posted by mdharis on (June 5, 2011, 9:36 GMT)

India has fast turned into a "paisa vasool" ideology. The same questions are asked in Bollywood, with writers running out of scripts and conjuring up an movie based on a leaflet of the first book they lay their hands on.

IPL will soon spin off EPL, SLPL, PPL, APL and soon club cricket will be played at the expense of Test cricket. Full tours are already being cut short.

What is wrong with players skipping? With tennis players skipping Davis Cup for Grand Slam, cricketers are skipping country tours and Test cricket for IPL T20 cricketers. That's what is wrong with players skipping tours.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2011, 8:54 GMT)

Great and genuine article Harsha

Posted by TheScarletChapati on (June 5, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

I felt very let down when Sachin said he was skipping these Tests,any other format , understandable , but @ the twilight of his career every run scoring chance to keep ahead of Ponting and Kallis can't be spurned, we feel simply it shoud have been, say no to IPL , rest up, and then play all Tests avail. till retirement . Kid's school holiday is sentimental Disney aaah cuteness, that still, however noble, does not stack up ,he can afford to have his family on a parallel break , say Disney Florida prior to tour & even thereafter joining up occasionally when the schedule permitted( just Tests remember)!! I sense that Sachin is planning his farewell and his playing bucket list , needs to tick overseas wins in UK and Oz , I also wonder if he will make an audacious bid to play in the World T20 so he can have a full set of gongs before going . Unless he squeezes in a tour to Bangladesh /Zim , if the next FTP conjures one up soon, can't now see him getting past Lara's top 400+ Test score

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Harsha Bhogle Harsha Bhogle is one of the world's leading cricket commentators. Starting off as a chemical engineer and going on to work in advertising before moving into television, he is also a writer, quiz host, television presenter and talk-show host, and a corporate motivational speaker. He was voted Cricinfo readers' "favourite cricket commentator" in a poll in 2008, and one of his proudest possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan holding a banner that said "Harsha Bhogle Fan Club". He has commentated on nearly 100 Tests and more than 400 ODIs.

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