Aakash Chopra
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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Where are India's next Test openers?

The domestic circuit isn't producing batsmen with the skills and temperament for five-day cricket. A certain T20 league is to blame, though not entirely

Aakash Chopra

December 25, 2012

Comments: 54 | Text size: A | A

M Vijay cuts on his way to a half-century, Tamil Nadu v Madhya Pradesh, Ranji Trophy Elite, Chennai, December 21, 2011
M Vijay: a potential Test opener before the IPL got in the way © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Indian cricket has become a strange beast of late. Confused, condemned and quite incomprehensible - much like Frankenstein's monster. While the selectors fumble for answers and the board finds itself in a tight spot, the average Indian fan is left bemused. What happens to Indian cricket from here on is the question that looms large in everyone's mind. There's an obvious dearth of quality spinners, the fast bowlers on offer are unappealing, and the opening combination has been spiritless for far too long.

Let's start at the top. The crisis of a consistent and sound opening partnership. Why has it been so poor? More importantly, why haven't India found replacements?

Take the curious case of M Vijay, now known as a T20 specialist. He's the only Indian to have scored two centuries in the IPL, both thoroughly entertaining and enterprising. When on song, especially in the shortest format and while playing for Chennai Super Kings, Vijay seems to be one of the most gifted cricketers around. His comfort against pace and bounce, his ability to stay balanced even while playing outrageous shots, and his relentless aggression make you feel he is cut out for T20.

Was Vijay always this sort of a player? Far from it. He started as a sedate opener who possessed a decent defensive technique and the patience needed to bat time. On his first-class debut, against Delhi, on a good batting surface, he consumed 192 balls to score 59 runs. It wasn't just his patience that stood out; he showed the ability to blunt Delhi's new-ball attack of Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma. He looked special, and had he progressed in the right direction, he would have been a sure-shot Test player in the making.

Some players give you that impression. Vijay did. When I saw him next, in another Ranji game, he had developed horizontal strokes off the back foot and found another gear in his batting without compromising on his technical foundations. He remained an orthodox opener essentially - cautious at the beginning, seeing the shine off, playing late, close to his body and accelerating only once set.

The last time I saw him was in the Ranji final in January this year, where Tamil Nadu were chasing a mammoth total on a very dull pitch with no bounce or pace. The pitch wasn't ideal for strokemaking, but if you put your mind to it and decided to be patient, it wasn't difficult to stay put.

The new, but not necessarily upgraded, version of Vijay surprised me. He played a shot a ball and perished soon after. He had changed completely from a solid and somewhat placid batsman to a flashy and over-the-top aggressive one. A few successful seasons in the IPL had transformed this potential Test opener to a T20 batsman.

Now, if Vijay tries to go back to being his old self, it will probably take only a couple of failures in the long format for him to give up and decide to pursue the skills necessary to succeed in T20.

The IPL has inadvertently become the fall guy for everything that has gone or will go wrong with Indian cricket. Much of that blame, though, from a purist's point of view, is not misplaced. It is not just Vijay who has changed his game to suit the demands of the IPL; an entire generation of openers in Indian domestic cricket have changed their style of batting.

No longer do you find young Indian openers spending hours in the nets to get acquainted with their off stump, and to master the art of leaving balls alone. No longer do they allow the ball to come to them and play close to their body. Their style is mostly about hitting boundaries. It doesn't really matter how the runs come as long as they come. You see a lot of flashing through or over the slip cordon, and high-risk shots like playing on the up even when the ball is darting around. Rarely do you see someone dropping anchor and playing the waiting game.

 
 
Why should Haryana's Rahul Dewan or Punjab's Jiwanjot Singh continue to bat in the way best suited for the longer format when the IPL scouts look past them?
 

So how did the whole fabric of Indian cricket change? Merely blaming the IPL is looking at the problem without its proper context.

Firstly, the stability of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag at the top for six to seven years left little hope for second-rung openers. No matter how well these batsmen did on the domestic circuit, there was no place at the top in the national side. In the ideal world, it was a good problem for India to have. But once the IPL arrived, these second-rung players had an option. Playing for the country was no longer the be-all and end-all of a cricketer's existence.

Secondly, T20 recognised and valued a radically different set of skills amongst openers. The new ball, instead of being left alone, was to be butchered. The harder and more often you could hit the ball, the more valuable you became in the eyes of the franchises. The money on offer was also significantly higher than that on the first-class circuit.

Why should Haryana's Rahul Dewan or Punjab's Jiwanjot Singh continue to bat in the way best suited to the longer format while the IPL's scouts look through them and offer these players' peers lucrative IPL contracts instead? It's wonderful to preach the importance of playing the game for the love of it but it's difficult to console a youngster who is missing out on fame and money.

The custodians of the game, the pundits, the media, and the people of this country, we all seem obsessed with IPL success. Ajinkya Rahane's average of 60 in first-class cricket over five seasons didn't create a ripple, but one good IPL season was enough to make him an exceptional talent to watch out for.

We need to realise that openers and spinners need to radically change their techniques to suit the demands of the various formats of the game. While the more experienced players know how to make that switch, the younger lot aren't equipped to strike that balance. Which is why there aren't enough openers and spinners on the domestic circuit who can make it to Test level.

Who do you then replace Gambhir and Sehwag with? The way out of this muddle is to identify young openers from the first-class teams who still have the skills and the temperament to succeed in Test cricket. Bring them in for further development of talent and monitor their progress, compensate them for their efforts (so that they don't feel insecure when their peers make serious money in the IPL), and send them to England for more practice during the summer.

This period of restoration might take time but it is sure to reap results. Merely changing a few players in the current Indian squad won't change the team's fortunes. Unless India makes these radical systemic changes with a vision, it's unlikely they will climb the Test summit again.

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

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Posted by jb633 on (December 27, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

@CurrentPresident- Maybe you think that is the case but you should try and get tickets for the Ashes test match at Lord's. Let me put it this way, you will find it 30 times easier to get a ticket for any T20 game. T20 is not entertaining whatsoever. In fact it is barely even sport. In any given sport the only thing that should matter is winning. In T20 cricket nobody really cares about the results. How is this good sport or even remotley entertaining? T20 cricket is like having half a pint of freshly squeezed orange juice with a half a pint of water. Test cricket is the full pint of freshly squeezed juice.

Posted by CurrentPresident on (December 27, 2012, 1:48 GMT)

What's the big deal about Test Cricket. It's like people complaining that travelling on trains was so much more romantic than flying in planes. Or claiming that posting a handwritten letter is the right way to communicate with others.

Those days are gone. People need to be more productive and that means a lack of time in general.

Let's not forget what this is. Entertainment. To some people it may seem like a religion, but they don't/can't pay the bills. So the game will be played the way the large majority likes to consume it. 20/20 has come to stay because that's what people have time for. It has its own intricacies and skill set requirements.

Why is it correct to use up 400 deliveries to make 80 runs? Are you curing cancer? or doing surgery? That you need to take the time to slice the cells just right no matter how long it takes. Come on! It's an optional entertainment activity competing with movies, TV, Xbox and others. For the general public, excitement beats nuances.

Posted by Nampally on (December 27, 2012, 0:29 GMT)

@itsthewayuplay:I have been commenting on lack of short or long term plan for player development in Cricinfo columns for the past 4 years. The Selectors have no vision for Team development. Who is responsible for this state of affairs? It is the BCCI. Firstly they select one set of guys for 2 or 3 matches. Bench 3 players consistently. Then they are totally forgotten without ever getting a chance to play in the XI. No Selectors in the World has such aimless fancy selection without any basis! The XI selection by Dhoni is even worse. Why on earth did they select Harbhajan & Chawla in the squad with Zero performance in any format of the game for past 12 months? Why were Mukund & Vijay included & forgotten? Where are guys who warmed the bench for 20 games like Rahul Sharma, Tiwary & Rahane - still no test cap. Countless seamers discarded uncermoniously. Who controls these guys from behaving like cowboys instead of sensible Selectors?

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (December 26, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

As Aakash has identified, Sehwag and Gambhir albeit for a shorter period are the automatic first choice openers regardless of their form. Cook however showed recently the value of application and consistency is much better than fast and furious such as Sehwag who at best is a 1 in 20 performer scoring a century in 1st test on a flat wicket and then did nothing in the next 3 more challenging pitches. Secondly other openers are only given a chance when one of these 2 are injured eg Mukund played the first 2 tests in England and then a clearly unfit Sehwag was recalled for the 3rd and 4th tests without having fully recovered from surgery. Thirdly there's no long term planning. Sometimes you've got to pick players purely for the experience and benefit in the long run and be prepared to accept that you may lose games in the meantime. This creates competition for places which ensures players always have to give their best every time unlike the don't care attitude of Sehwag and Gambir.

Posted by Nampally on (December 26, 2012, 16:45 GMT)

@3Cents: Much as I sympathise with your disdain for IPL, the reality is IPL is in India to stay. It has to be accepted & Indian Test + ODI teams developed. The irony is even the outstanding players from IPL do not get a chance in the Indian T20 team. So why not establish a basis for the IndianTeam Selection first. India is never short of Cricketers of all categories. The real issue is finding them early & developing them into Stars. Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid did not appear out of thin air. They were born & bred in India & learnt cricket in Indian system as well. The cream always rises to the top. India needs active scouting staff from school to college to Ranji level. In American baseball, Hockey & Basketball there are scouts who discover talent. What has BCCI done of this kind for Cricket with its huge $40 Million+ annual profits? BCCI has to play a more prominent role in development of Cricket in India - currently non existent.Even Sahara has done more for Indian Cricket than BCCI!

Posted by S2A2 on (December 26, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

I think so the selectors themselves are looking for flamboyance! ( what wud u expect when Srikant is the chief selector!) People like Wasim Jaffer are not considered any more inspite being a prolific scorer. I know he failed in Australia but that does not mean he shud nt b given a chance again! i think so he is still the best in Indian conditions! Akash - even u got a raw deal from the selectors!

Posted by tintin1409 on (December 26, 2012, 10:44 GMT)

Aakash Chopra has very aptly put forward points ailing Indian test cricket. Whether we like it or not, IPL has played a role to our declining standards in test matches. Perfect example being Murali Vijay, who has lost all credentials to becoming a test prospect post his success in IPL. While Rahane kept scoring huge runs in Ranji, no one noticed him till the time he succeeded in IPL. Isn't it logical for the player then to focus on T20 to forward his career. Firstly, different team setups have to be made for Test as well as T20 cricket. Like Australia does, good test prospects have to be completely kept away from T20. Secondly test cricketers need to be rewarded & compensated handsomely, in line with what he would earn by playing such leagues, this will serve as a great motivation to not divert his attention. Thirdly, BCCI should look into addign a bit of glamour and media attention for test cricket for cricketers to earn fame and popularity, 2 important things for today's youth.

Posted by 3Cents on (December 26, 2012, 4:22 GMT)

What chance do we realistically have of discovering a Dravid or a Laxman in such a system (both IPL laggards, one an outright failure and the other was famously discarded by its owner, branding him and his team as "test players", the most derogatory term ever to be used in a IPL set up)? Can the Indian cricket really do anything about this? Don't mistake the IPL fans to be Indian cricket fans. They are purely a bunch of entertainment seekers. This is just an outing for them (atleast the ones in the stadium) and an alternative to a cinema , a visit to a mall or a carnival or just a pub. They have no loyalty to IPL or to the sport itself. Unfortunately, given the tragic state of TV entertainment, IPL offers a better alternative to those at home seeking a drama with average performers. 2012 the world didn't end, but I think it certainly ended the hopes of serious Indian cricket fans!! Long live the golden generation that gave us those beautiful memories that we can cherish now!

Posted by inswing on (December 26, 2012, 3:29 GMT)

I will go out on a limb and say that Test cricket will be dead in 20 years and India will be leading the way. Players have started to lose interest in Tests, and spectators already are few and far between. Kids growing up today will not grow up with some sort of awe and respect for Test cricket, and that will be the death knell. Deprived of India's behemoth revenues, more and more countries will follow suit. Old puritans will be outraged and saddened, but they will eventually fade away too.

Posted by   on (December 26, 2012, 2:49 GMT)

great article Mr. Chopra.. i feel that Indian cricket is going to really struggle in 2013. Unless we try and have different openers for test, t20 and odi we are going to struggle. I feel that we should have players who have the temperament to bat long in tests. Its high time we try a new combination in tests, what about abhinav mukund and rahane.. we need to look ahead of gambhir and sehwag..

Posted by Nampally on (December 26, 2012, 2:08 GMT)

Aakash, The title of your article asks:"Where are the India's Next Test Openers"? At the end of the article you do not answer your question. Are the Fans expected to answer it? Blaming IPL is not the answer. India A teams can be sent abroad to Englamd , Australia & SA to play regular matches. This may be one way of finding who is best suited. It is not easy to get professional contracts in England for the Indian batsmen. As things stand there are several opener at the Ranji level like Dhawan, Vijay, Mukund & Rahane who have done well. In India U-19 U.Chand played very well in Australia as an opening bat. Why is it not possible to train these guys? Throwing up the arms is total cop out!. Coaching camps & training the batsmen on fast wickets specially prepared in Indian Camps can help a lot. BCCI have done "Zippo" so far in terms of such training. Why does BCCI care more for its financial bottom line than Cricket development in India? That is what we all need to ask BCCI to answer you!

Posted by SpartaArmy on (December 25, 2012, 23:47 GMT)

Well IPL is one of the many reasons for India's poor form at longer version of the game. The main reason though would be the absence of talent, there is not enough talent in the country. It is just like any other field in India, people from here are not famous for hard work and immense natural talent. Sachin, Dravid and other great players from last decade are exceptions, and India was lucky to have them all in the same team during this period. But now, wheel is back to square one.

Posted by AH_USA on (December 25, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

@Mark Demos: Actually it is the longivity of T20 which is in question. T20 feels monotonous and boring. There is no technique, no footwork, nothing. If it was so popular then there would be more T20s played on tours than the ODIs. It is only in India where they are popular and nowere else in any cricket playing nation.

Posted by Ajayvs on (December 25, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

Your articles always make a lot of sense Aakash, you are my favorite author on CricInfo. People who argue for IPL citing examples of professional leagues in other sports have to realize that the format of the game does not change in other sports like in cricket here. IPL is definitely becoming a deterrent for other forms of the game. If people feel other forms of cricket does not matter then well its different thing altogether, but IPL is not helping us produce world class T20 players as well :-). As the level of cricket increases basics become more important and lure of this T20 league is a deterrent for that

Posted by anshu.s on (December 25, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

Well what Akash has stated can be taken at face value or argued bothways, but what i am saying is that when a particular sports becomes really big and professional and takes off country alone with same set of 14 or 15 players won't do anymore that's when you need professional leagues which can showcase 100 odd players playing for differrent clubs.We already know many deserving players don't get a shot to play for India so what should these players do bide there time and become frustated and disillusioned.IPL provides such a platform where you are playing in front of packed houses, millions watching you on TV ,not only you get noticed but you are getting paid good money.In football Brazil and Spain don't play weak in weak out it is the Madrids,Barca's,Man,U's of the world who do that.Except England and Australia shorter formats dominates everwhere, even South Africa shelved the boxing day test and instead alloted 3 T-20's, purists might not like it but these are the times we live in .

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

Good article, but the title should be, "Where are India's next Test cricketers?" The ones playing right now are just mercenaries.

Posted by analyseabhishek on (December 25, 2012, 18:12 GMT)

Blaming IPL is alright but then why isn't India doing well at International t20s? Something is seriously wrong. Perhaps its the simple fact that the club based franchise is taking the focus off the national duties. These 2 approaches to Cricket are not reconcilable

Posted by Andre2 on (December 25, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

Thank you Mr Chopra, for such wonderful article. I hope Test cricket (or 1st class cricket) will continue for a long time, because those matches really show how good a test cricketer is...

Posted by Chandrurec5 on (December 25, 2012, 15:38 GMT)

@Jose Puliampatta: The following articles by a Tall Statesman of Cricket Analysis are worth reading for enlightenment and heightened sense of attainments http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/535293.html http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/587158.html T20 is there to stay, As senile tests give way, T20 is much too gay, All of us bask in its ray.

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

I tend to disagree with Akash on most of the points here. IPL is not so much the culprit as he makes it out to be. Generally players are picked in the Test team on based on solid performances in Ranji and Duleep trophy and sustained number of good performances in ODI cricket. Vijay got his chances in Tests and so did Mukund on basis of their solid first class performances alone, Rahane was always behind these guys even perhaps because of the regionalism that happened under Srikkant as Selection committee chairman giving preference to Tamil Nadu players.

Players do adapt their games to suit the T20 version and get IPL contracts but thats part of the process of becoming a complete player. If you look at any great player they have been able to mold themselves according to the format they are playing in and this kind of adaptability is necessary to keep the game interesting. Vijay has faltered not found form and that happens so many openers come and do not succeed.

Posted by vik56in on (December 25, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

The reality is that ranji trophy performances do not matter.But one season of good performance in IPL does the trick.Still all is not lost.It should be made mandatory for every Indian player to have played atleast 5 season of ranji trophy to play IPL and the entry age should be restricted to 24yrs!

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 25, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

Vijay, what hurts most is he started the season with a BANG and by the time the season is comming to an end, he is turned hopeless..with TN out of QF of Ranji, all he has left is some meaningless 50 over and 20 over domestic cricket before IPL starts and he will once again forget his technique and go for flashy runs..he was benched for 3 tests while he could have been released for Ranji, the gap did no good to him or Rahane, both have not been scoring big or consistently since they were picked and benched duirng the last Test series..Vijay, Sreesanth two of most wonderful talent gone waste in Indian Cricket...I cant see these two making a huge comeback, though Sree seems to be picking wickests albeit at club level..

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

Shikhar Dhawan and Unmukt Chand, simple swap.....2 delhi openers in and 2 delhi openers out..........right hand left hand combination.... groom a future captain, excellent fielders.. what more could you possibly want??

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

We lost VVS & to some extent Dravid, a bit too early, because they tried to adopt to the new 'mode' of batting, and started to fall between the two stools. Rahane is half way through to become a 'true' T-20 player. Pujara declared, recently, that he is willing (nay, ready) for the change! Both were pure test class. So was the case with Tiwari! How many more test class players, we are going to lose?

Posted by SamRoy on (December 25, 2012, 11:41 GMT)

Akash let's start with Vijay. Ok, when he started his career was a beautiful batsman of the front foot but a strokeless wonder of the backfoot.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 25, 2012, 11:24 GMT)

Best way we can know these batsman score big in real way is allowing two foreign fast bowlers in each ranji team.

Posted by CivilGaurav on (December 25, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

One strange thing is that Vijay was in the Test Squad for the England Test Series, but is not not being considered for T20 internationals and ODIs - inspite of being a good IPL batsman. One of the major problem is that the selectors do not select the deserving players, even we armchair critics can potentially select a better team :-)

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

Mark Demos is surely pulling our lariat.I went to Sri Lanka for the T20 and it was dire, since then we have had several fascinating tests including the draws. Pull the other one Mark, it plays jingle bells. A very merry xmas to all on cricinfo- a great site.

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 11:07 GMT)

Well written but youre probably overstating the bad influence of the IPL as it has probably only effected Vijay in this manner. Mukund seemed to have the grit but not really the technique and he barely plays IPL cricket. Rahane is not being looked at as an opener anyway- though he should be- and dosent seem to open for Mumbai anymore even. The others like Dhawan are not test class

However you are right about identifying the next rung of youngsters now- essentially that is Unmukt, Jiwanjot, Reddy, Dewan -and ensuring they do not go down the Vijay route and stay focussed on how to bad long

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 25, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

@Mark Demos That does not hold true outside India.

Australia's Big Bash T20 League has its losses underwritten by the revenue Cricket Australia gets from selling Test television rights.

In England, the bills are paid by Test tv rights - hence the increase up to 7 per year - and Test ground revenue. The grounds actually bid for the privilege of hosting Tests.

In South Africa and New Zealand, cricket survives due to the Test tv rights purchased by SuperSport and Sky respectively.

Even in Pakistan, Ten Sports' payment for Test and ODI and T20 rights pays the bills.

Posted by trepuR on (December 25, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

@sweetspot. You make me sad. I'm sorry but T20s cant compare to good Test cricket. In Test cricket you see true stories. For example in the recent Hobart Test between Aus/Sri I was fascinated watching Ed Cowan at the end of day 3 trying see out the last hour, struggling against the swing and seam movement generated by the Kulasekara and Welegedara. This is a man who had to leave his home state - and therefore many friends and family - to try and get a game for Tas. He scraped his way into the Australian side with gutsy performances for Tas. at nearly thirty years old. This is his only chance to make a success of wearing the baggy green - his only chance to do something he has forever idolised. He fights like a boxer in front of his adopted home crowd - crouching low and playing late - because this is all he has aspired to do and he wont give it up easily. He survives. So ends a riveting 14 overs I wouldn't miss for the world. By the way Im not a decrepit old Pom, Im a 16 year old Aus

Posted by smalishah84 on (December 25, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

Good article Akash. The bigger question no remains that if the BCCI is really interested in creating a good quality test team?

Posted by Anand2kau on (December 25, 2012, 10:03 GMT)

It's true test cricket is fading away, people who love to grind innings and score big hundreds and people who have FC averages > 60 like Rahane, Rohit need to be given chance in tests without considering their LOI standards, because they are very much fit and suited to play in tests, why make them play in LOI and waste their talent and confidence.

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 9:37 GMT)

Hats off Akash! Not many have the guts to write/speak against IPL. It is a monster, which is eating talent. The talent IPL highlights is purely MEDIOCRE! For example, Pujara is not an IPL find.. R Ashwin is.. Case rested

Posted by Shubham18 on (December 25, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

The fact that gambhir and sehwag are definately not going to be there in the team 2-3 years later seeing their current form and fitness India definately needs to start grooming new talent for the test level like they do for the ODIs and T20s. Not only openers but also other batsman and even fast bowlers and spinners who could learn a lot by playing in county in England or even first-class matches in SA or AUS. Here the batsman can get used to the bounce and learn to play on bouncy pitches as well. While fast-bowlers like Ishant Sharma and Vinay Kumar should play in England or Australia to get better as playing on death pitches for fast bowlers in India can help them in nothing no matter how many years they play. Even Zaheer needed to play in England to learn reverse swing and become a more established player.

BCCI needs to stop listening to their greedy brain and consider listening to their Indian Cricket loving heart(if they have any) and start preparing to avoid further whitewashes.

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

At the moment its not such a difficult choice really. Rahane had to be given a year or two before now. Even now it is not too late.

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

Also its about the ability to consistently face pace in England and Australia.

After the era of Saurav's captaincy, the regular openers consistently made themselves unavailable for tours to these countries.

Its high time they are replaced.

OK

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

Test cricket has about 5 more years before it fades into history. It is sad but it is reality. test cricket is already the welfare child of T20. It is not financially supportable and so no longer viable. T20 can olny carry it so far. I will miss it greatly. The argument that there are no 5 day openers is mute. I means nothing. T20 has already changed the face of 1-2 runs an over test cricket to possibilities and regular 5-8 runs an over. But alas test cricket will be remembered fondly but it will be nothing more than a memory withing 20 years.

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 25, 2012, 6:47 GMT)

To be honest, the short-cut to the top for India in all forms of cricket would be to use IPL money to subsidise international participation in a 3 Day tournament at night in India on lively wickets for one month of every year.

Shorten IPL to 3 weeks, but then make every IPL contractee play 5 x 3 day games in a 28 day period in, say, November.

It would recreate Kerry Packer's circus, but in club colours. Young Indian batsmen would face top bowlers on lively wickets in ten innings per year.

The learning curve would be rapid and steep. And young Indian bowlers would learn how to bowl properly, whereas at the moment Yadav and Ishant have learned only how to bowl yorkers and defensive deliveries. If a guy like Dinda had to open the bowling ten times in long spells with Steyn at the other end he should rapidly improve.

As would not just Kohli and Pujara, but also the likes of Gambhir and Dhoni who remain technically flawed against quick bowling in the longer game.

Posted by sweetspot on (December 25, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

What is wrong with putting the IPL at a higher priority than Test cricket, especially for Indian cricketers? It provides a living, greater entertainment, and looks forward. It is the worst thing in the world to not recognize simple reality and talk as though we owe something to Test cricket, but nothing at all to our own smashingly successful league. Nobody plays for the country - let's face the simple fact. If they were, the BCCI would come under the ambit of the Sports Authority of India and such bodies. It doesn't. You can play for the BCCI, with the "India" label, but the IPL is the main draw now. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the growth of the IPL or the demise of interest amongst players or the viewers in the long, old format of the game. Let's recognize change when we see it. Sport is for fun, and Test cricket provides much less of it than the IPL. Forget about all the attrition and Testing nonsense - the fun times are here, thank God!

Posted by chivukulasekar on (December 25, 2012, 5:30 GMT)

the ICC should pass a ruling that only those players who have served the national team for minimum period should play Ipl and once they do so, lose their automatic selection for their nation

Posted by Alok505 on (December 25, 2012, 5:14 GMT)

Jiwanjot singh is a really good prospect ...Indian selectors should eye on him as a future test opener.

Posted by ramli on (December 25, 2012, 5:00 GMT)

It happens to bowlers too ... Ashwin was a very successful bowler in Ranji cricket ... but his success in IPL only made him noteworthy ... now he is going the Ravi Shastri way ... slowly emerging as a better batsman than bowler ... curious but youngsters, both bowlers and batsmen, are not keen on 5-day cricket anymore ...

Posted by mlkt on (December 25, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

nobody in india really cares about the future of test cricket.....right after the series loss to england, rajiv shukla comes and declare the next IPL season!!!!!.....our captain dhoni is losing all tests and then is talking to media about presence of eng cricketers in IPL.....nd he thinks that these massive test defeats are nothing in comparison to 2007 WC defeat!!!!........and ABOVE ALL, WE, THE INDIAN CRICKET FANS, if we were actually affected by our show in tests, the stadiums in T20 games against eng and pak should have been empty, but as u see, fans now just need entertainment, which is available in T20......

Posted by leslie_alo on (December 25, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

Just to add to my below comments, and quoting cricinfo: Parthiv scores for the season are like: 18, 0, 16, 51, 162, 80, 56, 61, 55, 65, 111, 92.

And Kaif: 60, 14, 63, 2, 91, 25, 122, 36, 83, 85, 42, 11, 19.

And these guys are the pillars for their teams and consistent performers since last 3 or 4 years, not just this year. But, unfortunately neither do not blow their trumpet nor anybody sings for them. And they've actually performed like this in striving conditions and held UP and Gujarat together. If Parthiv cannot keep, he knows to bat for sure. He had shown his guts when he batted against England in their own land, not too far for us to forget. But let them be given a chance before they fade out into oblivion! If selectors are not watching Ranji, we can pick the statistics for them, but please do not turn a blind eye!

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (December 25, 2012, 4:44 GMT)

I am not too sure if technically sound batsmen have to abandon their normal game to embrace the style of Sehwag or Hales. Apart from that not being easy, many batsmen have not given up their regular playing style. Two batsmen who will prove my point are Kallis and Du Plessis. Both are sound technically and have all the shots.They play their usual style in the IPL and have been match winners. It is a fallacy to think that one has to be an inveterate switch-hitter or dilscooper to succeed.Rahane plays as he does normally like Dravid too plays. Scoring fast does not mean that players have to resort to ungainly shots. Jivanjot Singh is said to be sound technically.Add to that the fact that he scores fast or slow as needed. I do not think he has to change too much if selected for the IPL.I would like to remind Akash of how Navjot Sidhu was initially.So dour was he that he was considered a strokeless wonder.Sometime before the World Cup of 1987 in India he had changed into a rare six hitter.

Posted by SudiptaS on (December 25, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

Perhaps a lone sane voice in Indian Cricket...Plz give the reins of BCCI to ex-players like Akash Chopra, Anil Kumble, Srinath, Prasad, Rahul Dravid etc.

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

Brilliant article Aakash.And may I say the first one which has a problem and solution in it alway.I am tired of reading the so called cricket experts articles about the same topics IPL, DRS ,BCCI bashing or Tendulkar retirement.In my mind this is beginning of the next phase of Indian cricket Post Tendulkar era.All strategies ideas applied when he was playing should be changed. Now I dont thing we will ever find that one batsman who we will flick in numbers to see regardless of the results or situation.I will never go to see just Kohli bat but I will go to see a match if India is doing well .This is a new beginning but whether it is the beginning of the end only time will tell

Posted by leslie_alo on (December 25, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

Tell us one thing Aakash, where are Mohamed Kaif, Parthiv Patel and Rahane going wrong! Are they not talking with their bat since years in first class. Have they not proved they can play the bouncing ball too. Know this article is all about openers. But have these players not played their heart out for their respective teams and dont they've enough technique to excel at internationals. Why are these players getting overlooked in Tests, when will our wise men notice them and reward them for their hard work before their luck runs out like in the case of Amol, can you please help them out with an article on forgotten heroes!

Posted by   on (December 25, 2012, 3:46 GMT)

well said Aakash, but are the administrators reading and acknowledging it?

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Aakash ChopraClose
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.

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