We’ve won the World Cup – tick. The IPL’s a decent success – tick. The players have made their money – tick. The BCCI has made its money – tick. The rest of it doesn’t matter – tick.
That’s the message that is being sent to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the West Indies Cricket Board. If the Indian Board is actually considering giving all their best players rest for the West Indies tour, they need to stop and think more rationally.
As it stands, Zaheer Khan is likely to sit out of the early part, as is Sachin Tendulkar. Virender Sehwag is out for sure and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is considering giving it a miss. That’s four of India’s best players out and we aren’t talking about a match in our local street competition, we are talking about a full-fledged tour of the West Indies, which includes one T20 match, five ODIs and three Tests.
Cricket, unlike football or the NBA or the NFL, has always been a sport that has been driven by the country-versus-country competition. And if India, in all its arrogance, decides to disturb the balance, it won’t be pretty. Not for the sport; not for India either.
The ICC, at its end, has maintained that it expects the Indian Board to send a full-strength team to the West Indies. “I think it affects the brand of cricket. Everybody wants to see a full-strength side. The same applies to the IPL and any of the FTP commitments. Because of the volume of cricket, every individual player has to be managed,” Lorgat had said recently.
“One or two stars asking for a rest is okay. If five or six stars do not want to go to the West Indies, then I think, it's not appropriate fulfillment of what has been committed to the FTP,” he added.
But when you speak to people in the know and ask them: Why is India even considering this, their replies and their logic are shocking. "We’ve won the World Cup. That’s what will count 20 years for now, who is really bothered about a series against the lowly-West Indies," they say.
Another guy said: ‘The West Indies series won’t be telecast at prime time, so it’s okay to give this a miss."
Yet another chap said: "When do they get a chance to rest? Against England and Australia, they won’t be able to do this."
It almost sounds like the world stopped playing cricket after the tournament. We’d like to believe that but seriously, life goes on and so does the game.
To add to the whole conundrum is the line the BCCI is taking on the matter – go ahead and rest, we have enough players. But do we have enough players good enough to take the place of those four stalwarts and deliver consistently?
After all, if we see the form that Chris Gayle is in, he alone could take them to victory. As bad as the West Indies is in the longer format of the game, in T20 and ODI cricket, they remain a dangerous but inconsistent team.
In 2006, India had lost the ODI series against the West Indies 4-1. Brian Lara was still playing, but this time round, they don’t have a very bad team. They have a few good guys -- good enough to make a difference.
Against a very decent Pakistani side, they managed to win two ODIs. The Indian selectors will definitely need to explore the angle of at least picking them for the series and then allow the team management to rotate them sensibly as and when the situation demands.
Updated Date: May 12, 2011 18:47:07 IST