Is IPL the reason for youngsters losing their focus on Test cricket?
The Indian Premier League is good for cricketers, but with today's youngsters focusing more on developing their T20 game, it's difficult to build a strong Test team, writes Balvinder Singh Sandhu
In my opinion, the Board of Control for Cricket in India made the right move in appointing Ravi Shastri as Team Director in England. Ravi will be assertive in decision-making and will be stern with players not pulling their weight.
A local batsman tries a warped stroke. Pic for representation only
He will mince no words. Head coach Duncan Fletcher allowed things to drift too far and beyond reach, instead of rowing the team safely away from trouble waters.
If there is no assertion in decision making and you float with decisions made by others then despite having good knowledge and experience of international cricket, the result will be the same.
Meanwhile, chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil could be more assertive in picking the team. For me, the one area where captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni erred was in selecting the final XI. Some out of the box thinking could have been done when things did not go as expected.
Winning the Test series in England could have inspired many young cricketers to play Test cricket.
These are very difficult times for coaches in India as they are discovering that most young batsmen are developing their technique to suit the shorter version of the game and the bowlers are more keen on learning how to reverse swing and use the slower ball, when they should be focusing on correcting the grammar of their cricketing skills that are required to negotiate when playing at the highest level.
India not winning the Test series also hampers the enthusiasm of young cricketers to become Test players or even be part of a successful Ranji Trophy team.
Recently, one of the coaches at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore overheard youngsters discussing their future. Most youngsters were of the view that India plays few Test matches and more T20 games, one-day matches and IPL matches.
Every year, only a few cricketers make their debut at Test level, whereas several players get an opportunity to play and earn more money in the shorter version. Hence, the goal of most youngsters today is get into an IPL team.
IPL is one of the best things to have happened for cricketers to make a good living but sometimes too much sugar can make one a diabetic.
They are just focusing on developing their game for T20 cricket. If this trend continues, India will find it difficult to build a strong Test team that could win series in India and abroad.
It's time for the BCCI to take stock and have brainstorming sessions to think of ways on how to encourage young cricketers to aim for the longer version of the game first and later look for opportunities in the shorter version.
One solution that comes to my mind is a player should be picked for an IPL team only if he has played 20 or more first-class matches and/or is over 23 years of age.
This will force young players to focus on developing their game for the Ranji Trophy. We will struggle to make a good Test team if the right decisions are not taken at the earliest.
BCCI needs to be applauded for spending on developing infrastructure and taking care of past and present cricketers. Now, save Test cricket!