Writing for Cricinfo, Ramachandra Guha asks of Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri:
Why have these two stalwarts of Indian cricket never spoken out about the damage the IPL has done to the country’s Test team?
Guha is one of my favorite writers on the subject, and is infinitely more knowledgeable, so I had expected to be enlightened by this article. Unfortunately though, Guha not only fails to answer his question, but also inexplicably tries (and fails) to construct a grand unified theory with the sole view of implicating Gavaskar and Shastri in the matter.
Allow me to reconstruct Guha’s argument here.
Statement #1: The IPL is the reason India is no longer the best Test team in the world.
Statement #2: Gavaskar and Shastri are in the BCCI’s pockets, which is why they do not voice opinions against the body. Also, they should have supported Dileep Vengsarkar in his bid to lead the Mumbai Cricket Association.
Statement #3: India’s drubbing this far in England is because some key players opted out due to exertion, or are playing despite it.
Guha would like us to believe that the last two statements together prove the first.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the second statement is completely irrelevant to the case. However, #3 is pertinent, but only goes halfway towards proving Guha’s point. The generally held view is that the Indian team has had to play too much cricket over the past six months, and this is the reason for the team’s poor performance in the first three Tests against England. I concur with this view. If this were indeed the case, and Guha himself implies this in his article, then his argument should have been that the most recent edition of the Indian Premier League has led to the national team’s slump in form; and not because of the nature of the tournament, but due to its poor timing; top-level cricketers are not machines, and they need proper rest in order to perform at their best. The Indian team would have performed just as poorly in England had the World Cup been followed by a five-test, seven-ODI, three T-20 series at home against South Africa, instead of by IPL 2011. Would Guha argue then that home series (in general) against the Springboks is the reason the Indian team is not the best in the world in Tests?
If, as he asserts, the IPL has wrecked India as a Test team, then how can one explain the fact that the Indian team rose steadily to the top of the Test rankings over the last couple of years, a period that coincides with the formation and growth in popularity of the IPL? I state this not to imply any causality; but Guha thinks he can get away with making the same point in reverse, and that is inexcusable coming from an expert like him.
The IPL per se does not cause exertion. It is this specific instance — IPL 2011 — that was poorly timed, at the end of a tiring World Cup. The BCCI was wrong in assuming that the players could handle the World Cup, IPL 2011, the West Indies tour and the England tour back to back and without much rest. If Guha had argued taken this line, I would have stood foursquare behind him. But Guha’s agenda in writing this article does not seem to be the fortunes of the national team, but the “fortunes” of the BCCI. For example, he wonders if “the ownership of the Chennai Super Kings by the board’s secretary is legally and morally indefensible.” A more impertinent line of argument is yet to be invented.
This is not a defense of the two ex-cricketers. Should Gavaskar and Shastri have spoken out about the timing of IPL 2011? As respected members of the Indian cricketing establishment, yes. Should they do more to develop young talent a la the Colonel? Maybe. Are they part of a deliberate attempt — a conspiracy, even — to forever destroy the Indian Test team’s standing? Are you kidding me?
I can only conclude that Ram Guha has a beef with Gavaskar and Shastri (or a bigger one against the board), one which might probably even be legitimate. But he has chosen the wrong topic to implicate the two, and has lost the plot as revealed by his article’s incoherence. Weaving Vengsarkar into the debate is a cunningly well-deployed straw man argument intended to establish a distraction in the reader’s mind to portray the duo in poor light.
Ram, I’m sorry, but you are wrong!
No related posts.