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Dravid: Difficult to let Indian players play overseas T20 leagues

The India coach was asked whether the lack of BBL experience was a factor in India losing the semi-final to England

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
India can't send their players to overseas T20 leagues, their coach Rahul Dravid has said, because a lot of these leagues are played during India's domestic season. The topic came up when Dravid was asked whether India had been at a disadvantage during their semi-final defeat to England because their players don't have any BBL experience in Australia, while England's do, and if India would look to send players to the BBL in the future. The tenuous link between the experience of playing the BBL in the Australian summer and doing well there in early spring conditions notwithstanding.
"I mean, sure, there's no doubt about it, the fact that England… a lot of their players have come here and played in this tournament," Dravid said, "and it certainly showed. It's tough. I think it's very difficult for Indian cricket because a lot of these tournaments happen right at the peak of our season.
"I think it's a huge challenge for us. Yes, I think a lot of our boys maybe do miss out on the opportunities of playing in a lot of these leagues, but if you were to… it's really up to the BCCI to make that decision, but the thing is it's right in the middle of our season, and with the kind of demand there would be for Indian players, if you allowed all the Indian players to play in these leagues, we would not have a domestic cricket. Our domestic cricket, our Ranji Trophy, would be finished, and that would mean Test cricket would be finished.
"I know a lot of people talk about it [no Indians in overseas T20 leagues], but we have to be very careful when we… we have to understand the challenges that Indian cricket faces or the BCCI would face in a situation like this. You'd see all our boys… like a lot of boys being asked to play leagues right bang in the middle of our season. We've seen what that's done to West Indian cricket, and I would definitely not want Indian cricket to go that way. It would certainly affect our Ranji Trophy; it would affect Test cricket. Indian boys playing Test cricket is pretty important for the Test game as well, I would think."
England's captain Jos Buttler was also asked about this, but he quickly went on to praise Alex Hales, who ran away with the chase on the night. "I think Alex would have played as much Big Bash cricket as anyone, and his performance tonight was amazing," Buttler said. "I think it's some huge strengths of his, square of the wicket, which obviously today on this kind of grounds really is great. No, he's a tough guy to bowl at. He's been obviously performing really well for a long period of time. Unfortunately hasn't been able to get back in due to other players playing brilliantly well as well. A few circumstances and that opportunity has arisen, and he's come in, and the last three matches especially, his form has been brilliant."
The topic of participation in overseas T20 leagues has been a sticky one in Indian cricket. The bigger fear perhaps is that even if the BCCI allows only those with no ambition for a place in first-class cricket to play these T20 leagues, it will result in more and more players opting not to play first-class cricket, thus weakening the structure that has resulted in a formidable Test side. Other teams do have to deal with this friction, too, but the demand for Indian players for commercial reasons would be much higher.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo