Looking at current scenario of Indian cricket, one is forced to ask this question. Following that incredible win against Pakistan in the inaugural World T20 five years ago, many believed that a new, glorious era in Indian cricket would be ushered in. Cut to 2012, and we have a totally different picture painted of Indian cricket, and a rather sorry one at that. The termination of Deccan Chargers from the IPL, which was a byproduct of India’s 2007 World T20 triumph, is the latest illustration of a mess called Indian cricket.
The IPL came into existence less than a year after India’s 2007 triumph in South Africa, and was promoted as a ‘domestic’ tournament that would give young players from the country an opportunity to play alongside the greats of the game not only from India, but across all cricket-playing nations. At first sight, we wondered, wow what a great idea. The inaugural season was a mega success, riding on the wave of India’s T20 win as well as the novelty factor of the tournament. The organisers, however, forgot one thing – that cricket is a simple bat and ball game. They brought in auctions, player transfers, bids, etc., turning the sport into a business, which is exactly what IPL is, more than a sport.
Between IPL 3 and the end of IPL 5, two franchises have got their contracts terminated, two others are still fighting a legal battle with the board. Not a great track record for an event that is just half a decade old. What’s worse players who haven’t even played for India ended up getting banned following a sting operation on them, which alleged they were ready to be part of corrupt activities. Not least worrying of all is the fact that, except Ravichandran Ashwin, not one quality player has come out of the IPL. If anything, the event only helped Australia’s Shane Watson revive his career.
The lengthy event has had a major role to play in India’s disastrous performances in international cricket as well. It cannot be a co-incidence that in the pre-IPL era India won Test series’ in England and West Indies, and drew one in Australia as well. Even when the IPL wasn’t having a significant impact on the players in its earlier days, the Indians performed well. They managed to register their first series win in New Zealand and even held South Africa to a draw in the latter’s home territory.
Everything changed in 2011. The 50-over World Cup triumph was followed by the IPL, and so tired were the Indian players by the end of the tournament that they had no energy left to perform well in England. Some months later, disaster repeated itself in Australia. In the meanwhile, the same Indian players have continued to excel in the IPL. It is but obvious then that, by just turning up and putting up a few decent performances, they are doing enough to satisfy their desires. The lure of easy money is evident in the way not only youngsters, but even experienced players, have performed for India in comparison to their IPL franchises. So much for a cricket-crazy country that gave demi-god status to its heroes.
--By A Cricket Analyst