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T20 World Cup: Players in firing line, feel the heat - Govt.in - Telling the truth- always!
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T20 World Cup: Players in firing line, feel the heat

T20 World Cup: Players in firing line, feel the heat

The angry backlash after India’s disastrous World Cup performance shows good has come out of what was horribly bad. Winning/losing is part of the game but a ten-wicket hammering with four overs to spare was brutal murder, an innings defeat of sorts.
But a happy outcome, the silver lining around the dark cloud, after the disaster is willingness to confront the bitter truth that the team lacked intent and inspiration. The post-mortem is on expected lines but in the noise, and accompanying social media surround sound, one interesting strand has surfaced.
This time the fans are angry, very angry actually, and the players are facing the heat with awkward verbal bouncers being hurled at them. Interestingly, the questions asked are not about about technique, competence or skill but more basic -the sawaal are about the commitment and professionalism of India’s cricket superstars.
Holding players accountable in this fashion is unprecedented because top players are normally on a lifelong honeymoon where they receive limitless love and lihaaj, which, explained loosely, is social ‘benefit of the doubt’. Fans think they can do no wrong and the failings of cricketers are forgiven and forgotten, the way banks let defaulters off the hook and indulgent parents put up with the mischief of playful kids.
Till now the cricketing royalty had special privileges, they lived by their own rules and enjoyed immunity as if vaccinated by a booster dose that protected against criticism. Mass popularity was their ‘suraksha kawach’, and blind bhakts thought-win or lose—all was allwayz well.
But now the gloves are off and the sharpest comments about players are from ex-players and leading this ‘friendly fire’ is Sunny Gavaskar, a cricket God himself. There is nobody more concerned about the wellbeing of Indian cricket than Gavaskar, he has always batted fiercely for India and is one to defend and support it, especially when critical voices emerge from overseas.
Gavaskar, as a concerned expert, never misses a chance to speak bluntly and this time, hitting through the line, he put the players under the pump. He mentioned many reasons for his disappointment, such as players taking breaks and missing games, giving IPL priority about everything else and lacking in commitment.
Why, he asked:
# should players receive guaranteed amounts from the BCCI as retainers if they choose to become unavailable from time to time .
# nobody misses IPL and there never is any issue about injury, workload management, mental and physical break in the cash rich league.
# playing for India isn’t the top priority.
This was, in a manner of speaking, hitting the nail on the head because it aligned with the public perception that players are pampered and spoilt.
Like Gavaskar, Ajay Jadeja too waded in with some uncomfortable questions. His stand was clear – it’s time to move on from the non-performing assets and look at fitter and fresher options. Harbhajan wanted the team to reboot, he thought Dravid needs help in handling white ball cricket. Several others agreed that many seniors have outlived their utility and should exit.
Some of the criticism against players is not new. About importance given to the IPL, the truth was captured earlier in Ravi Shastri’s memorable quote that it is the best physio in the world – everyone becomes fit in March. The charge that players are not professional was summarised by Bishan Bedi who said they think it’s restricted to getting paid for playing. Nothing more.
Madan Lal, a respected veteran who played club cricket for 20 years in England , explains the responsibility that comes with being a professional. You need to perform every time as an overseas pro— just two failures and the club will remind you that the salary has to be earned. It’s tough, he said. It doesn’t matter who you are, the overseas player is expected to deliver.
That clearly is not the case in India. Players get away with a lot, they push the boundaries and freely take advantage of their special status. A lot has been said about the traditional ‘superstar culture’ running through Indian cricket, and this trend has become stronger with the IPL.
When the league started a fear was expressed that handsomely rewarded players would opt for 20-over cricket instead of Tests that demand greater effort. That has come true and the ground reality unfortunately is more depressing than what experts predicted. It’s seen that players in the top IPL salary bracket, the domestic players who get top dollar in the auction, are reluctant about playing Ranji. Four-day matches don’t do anything for their IPL contracts and it makes sense to avoid red ball cricket and ensure fitness and form in the shorter format.
Indian cricket is used to its main players missing Ranji because of international commitments. Virat Kohli’s last game for Delhi was in 2014 and it is difficult to recall when Rohit Sharma or Ravinder Jadeja represented their state sides. Now, with IPL stars, also staying away domestic cricket faces an additional challenge.
Hopefully, with past legends asking awkward questions, the system will auto correct.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by GOVT.in staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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