ICC World Twenty20 2009 June 16, 2009

Kirsten blames IPL fatigue


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Gary Kirsten, the India coach, has said players' fatigue levels and the minor injuries they carried from the IPL to the ICC World Twenty20 contributed to the champions' early exit. He felt India never reached the "intensity that you need at the international game" where the standard of cricket is much higher than it was in the recent IPL.

"Fatigue was definitely a factor, as were many other things," Kirsten said the day after India's defeat against England. "I don't want to use that as an excuse but it was a factor. We weren't an energetic team, like we were in New Zealand where the levels of energy were really good. We didn't get up to the same level on this tour." This is not the first time that Kirsten has brought up this issue. In an interview to Cricinfo last month, the India coach had pointed out that the team had been on the road for a long while and said that mental fatigue was its biggest challenge for the World Twenty20.

All the members of India's World Twenty20 squad were part of the IPL and they arrived in England for the warm-up games which began on June 1, after playing a tightly scheduled five-week tournament in South Africa that ended only on May 24. Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan picked up serious injuries during the IPL. Sehwag's shoulder problem eventually ruled him out of the World Twenty20 while Zaheer, who admitted he was lucky to sit out for only four weeks, recovered just in time after missing most of Mumbai Indians' campaign and the practice games in England.

Prior to the IPL, the BCCI had scheduled five ODIs and a Twenty20 international in Sri Lanka between January 28 and Febuary 10 to fill the gap after the two-month tour of Pakistan was cancelled in December following government advice that it was not feasible "in the prevailing circumstances" after the Mumbai terror attacks. India then flew to New Zealand to play two Twenty20 internationals, five ODIs and three Tests in March and April. There was a mere 11-day gap between the end of the final Test and the first match of the IPL. "We were a relatively tired team when we arrived here [in England], Kirsten said. "We've been on the road since the end of January and hadn't really been at home much."

As a result, India decided against strenuous training during the World Twenty20. Many net sessions were optional and players often didn't practice if there was only a day's gap between matches. This was because they were "trying to work out whether we should increase the levels of training or ensure the guys have enough rest".

Kirsten also said that the short gap between the IPL and the World Twenty20 didn't give India enough time to prepare as a team, something that all other sides were able to do even though they had a few players involved in the IPL.

"If we go back to the Australia series, we had 17 days' preparation and then we played unbelievable cricket for seven months," Kirsten said. "That was a great foundation for us in many respects that allowed us to achieve what we did. Here the players have two days to go home, and then we come into the tournament without being able to connect with the players at all. We also had players who were carrying niggles into this tournament. We performed well below our potential and we've got to take the rap for that."

There has been a lot of debate during the tournament whether teams with players with more IPL experience had an edge over those that didn't. Players involved in the Twenty20 league have insisted that the IPL had been fabulous preparation but India's performance didn't seem to back that up. All their players were key members of their franchises but they failed to perform against the stronger sides in the World Twenty20. Kirsten said there was a difference in quality among the two tournaments. "Absolutely, that's a domestic competition, a club competition in many respects. I sense that there's a reasonably big gap between what's happening at IPL level and what's happening internationally. It's only natural, when you're picking your best XI out of each country the quality is going to go up substantially."

Kirsten was at pains to clarify that the demanding schedule was not an excuse but said "the bottom line is that it does affect teams physically and mentally" and hoped for a better lead-up into the 2010 World Twenty20 in the West Indies. He even said that some players could be rested from the IPL ahead of international assignments if that was possible. India's next assignment is a four-match ODI series in the Caribbean and Kirsten said they would begin preparing for that by giving the players some time off before regrouping and chalking out plans.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aamir on June 19, 2009, 21:50 GMT

    wouldn't say much, but Kirsten is right. I'm a Pakistani so i know what asians expect from their teams, but it's a sports competition, one side has to make way for the other, two of them can't go through at the same time. It was India last time, it would be Pakistan or Sri Lanka this time..! even a clinical South African side choked yet again, due to mental stress. Pakistan took it as fun so they are gone ahead.! It's a game, let it be a game.

  • Mubeen on June 19, 2009, 12:15 GMT

    Mr.Moody you say Indians are lucky for playing more cricket than pakistan but pakistan have done well to reach finals of T20 world cup for 2nd time after having a good break from cricket,its clear good sign players should be rested instead having hectic cricket.No wonder inspite of playing so many matches Team India have done well as human every cricketer needs a break.Indian selectors should be more proactive than just to be active.

  • Mudassar on June 18, 2009, 6:45 GMT

    you people have been saying that indian team is playing too much cricket and its not good for india. but the fact is that if you dont play cricket you will sooner or later become a zimbabwe team, as happened to pakistan. just think what if india played only 6 ODi and 2 tests in 2 years, would they be able to win matches agianst australia and s.africa? and would they be able to produce players like rohit, ishant, raina, yousuf ghambir etc. we pakistanis are suffering from lack of cricket and want more cricket so that our players become real threat to others. i think india is very lucky to have more cricket than pakistan.

  • Ravish on June 18, 2009, 0:56 GMT

    One more thing. Like Dhoni said, failure tests a team more than a success would. I would say it tests the fans too. This team is very special and they have been performing very well for the last two years. One series loss, and I am amused by the reaction of some fans who wants to torch them. It also tests the character of the fans, guys ,and I can say Indian fans failed. What the team needs at this time from the fans is some understanding and space and instead people are ready to throw them to dogs. I strongly beleive this team will bounce back for champions trophy because they have a lot of character and please don't beleive that crap about them not being able to play short ball or being scared of it. They did not learn holding bats yesterday. The first two games they lost were close ones and a couple of strategy mistakes and tactical decisions cost them or else we wouldn't be having this discussion. They will bounce back in September after a break from cricket.

  • k on June 17, 2009, 23:29 GMT

    I for once can understand the frustration of the Indian fans due to their high expectations and yet once again we go back to our regular routine of burning the idols of our heroes and the regular stoning their houses etc etc.The fact that people forget to realize is that T20 is format in which any team can defeat any team on a given day . Australia did not even make it to the super eights.The coach and captain can say it was fatigue and BCCI keeps defending the board saying that they didnt have to play if they felt tired but you could see the players yourself they were trying to hide it the best but the fact of the matter is they looked like they were burned out , yes they are international players but they are not super human beings.There is nothing wrong with the coach or captain, BCCI should live up and take full responsibility other than just making money on the expense of the players and to all the fans out there take a chill pill relax they will bounce back ,give them some sleep

  • Ram on June 17, 2009, 22:17 GMT

    I admire the current group of Indian cricketers, selectors, managers and their coaches and what they have done over a decade. It is not possible to win all the time. It is important to realise at the international level any team can win within a given period, when a group of cricketers mesh well and strike form. It is important to recognise what these guys have done. it has created a positive attitude and belief. Sehwag went through some tough patch and came back. The same will be good for others like Dhoni. I see Dhoni as some one who has changed his style to the team's requirement, willing to experiment. We are not going to achieve success in every experiment. The stress that we put on these guys are too much by playing too much cricket. Reducing the exposure (Indian cricket board), rotating to keep a pool of talent (selectors) are just as important. We (the fans) have to change too. We need to learn from our losses and be supportive during good and bad times.

  • Mukund on June 17, 2009, 21:07 GMT

    team and order of batting bowling should have been: gambhir,nayar,i.pathan,rohit,y.pathan,yuvraj,dhoni,bhatia,jadeja,rp,nehra

    no raina, bhajji, zak.

  • santhosh on June 17, 2009, 14:41 GMT

    as i write this, reports of BCCI gagging gary kirsten are flowing in, following his reasoning that fatigue arising out of the IPL was responsible for the debacle at the world cup. umm...players and coaches have made comments in the past about burnout , excess cricket and tight schedule, but BCCI never bothered to forbid players from making comments. i wonder why it is making an exception this time.

  • Ravish on June 17, 2009, 14:39 GMT

    There are several here who want to shut IPL down. It is here to stay. To many it is more entertaining than WC and more elite Indian players want to play in it for whatever reasons. If you are bothered so much about players making money, why don't you guys quit your job, and go and work for free to feed the hungry and help the needy? That is far more patriotic than you accusing others (read players) of not being patriotic by putting country first. They are professionals with a short-term career and they want to make money and they have the capability to make money legally. Just because they fail in a WC this time, all the guys who accuse them of being greedy should start practising what they preach. Don't forget that they succeeded far more than they failed in the last two years. It is fine to criticize them for tactical mistakes or other cricketing reasons. However, stop trying to hit their pockets the first time they fail to deliver. They themselves are feeling the pain of the loss.

  • Alex on June 17, 2009, 13:45 GMT

    The fatigue etc as excuse is just bullshit. Man for man South Africa has played more International cricket than India. The truth is that India was never good enough in any facet of the game - it's tough to swallow, but it's the truth. And shame behold their batting, supposedly their biggest strength has been embarrassingly exposed. All the people who were singing paeans for Indian team a few days ago as new no. 1 team forgot one very important thing - it is very difficult to be no. 1 in competitive sport, more so in a team sport. And it is even more difficult to stay at no. 1. India has been just a team in form, far cry from no. 1. But they can be - no question about it. What they do now in rest of the year will decide this question. Now we find out how good a captain Dhoni is - how good a coach Kirsten is - how good a team India is. It is easy to win on your best day. But teams that are no. 1 can win even on their worst day (if given a chance).

    So, let's see how India responds!

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