The Indian Premier League, despite being a great product, has not gained universal acceptance and mutterings of cynics keep cropping up. However, the Twenty20 extravaganza has Indian cricket in a win-win situation because the IPL will give Krishnamachari Srikkanth’s selection panel a wide choice for September’s ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka. Other countries will probably gain too and their selectors could be glued to their television sets.
Former national selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, Kiran More and Sambaran Banerjee had no hesitation in agreeing that IPL-V would serve as great exposure and preparation for the all countries ahead of the mega event in the Emerald Isles. “Absolutely. There’s no two ways about it. This is a great opportunity for the selectors to pick the best squads for the world championship. I am saying so because a lot of good players from all over the world are taking part in this tournament. Hence, the quality (on offer) cannot be questioned at all,” Vengsarkar told MiD DAY yesterday.
The former chief selector and India captain, whose committee picked India’s 2007 World T20-winning squad, felt that players have to deal with similar kind of pressure in IPL just like they do while representing their countries. “Besides franchise expectations, there is a huge expectation of the fans too. Youngsters are learning how to deal with pressure and that’s why this cash-rich event is an important one ahead of the World Cup,” said Vengsarkar.
Another former chairman, Kiran More stressed on the professionalism aspect. “IPL is a professional set-up and players have to perform to justify their price tags. If a player is dropped from an IPL side for performance, how can he expect to play the same format wearing an India shirt? So, players need to show professionalism for both — be it playing for an IPL side or for the country. In that sense it’s a great chance for them to be in reckoning,” said More.
More stated that playing in Indian conditions would help players adapt to Sri Lankan conditions well. “Since the World T20 will be played in Sri Lanka where the conditions are almost similar to India, I am sure, selectors of all cricket boards must be following the IPL keenly. It will give them a fair idea on what their best combination in the World T20 could be,” said More.
Banerjee, who was a national selector in the late 1990s was more concerned of the pressure factor. “When you play for your country, you have the burden of fans’ expectations. Same here. The players and franchise owners share an employer-employee relationship and so there is a certain amount of pressure to perform is involved in IPL. One who handles this pressure well and performs in IPL can play his natural game even while wearing India colours,” said Banerjee.
However, former India skipper, coach and selector, Ajit Wadekar begged to differ from his colleagues. “I don’t think IPL is the right platform to pick players for World T20. In IPL, a player may turn out for one franchise this year and for some other the next year. Where’s the loyalty? But when one represents India, has that pressure to perform as the entire nation has an expectation from the individual. IPL cannot be compared with international cricket,” Wadekar said.