India has lost their number one ranking and has lost four Tests in a series for the first time since 1991-92, and all this at the back of a World Cup-winning performance and an exceptional season of the much blamed IPL.
IPL has been blamed for much of Indian cricket’s bad days. Previously early round exits from the T20 World Cup of 2009 and 2010 have also been blamed on the IPL. With so many poor Indian team performances after the IPL, there is no denying that IPL is, in some ways, responsible for particularly the current debacle in Indian cricket.
First of all, there is the fast blazing innings, shots and sixes and the quick money that has made the upcoming Indian batsmen forget the fruits of concentration and toil, something so evident in Cook’s Edgbaston marathon.
Then there is the fact that four overs with batsmen trying to hit you of every ball is a different ball game compared to bowling long spells to be able to get players out who are determined to keep their wickets safe.
The Indian bowlers, no doubt bowled good spells, like Ishant in the second innings at Lords and collective performance of the bowlers in the first innings at Trent Bridge, however they were not able to finish their jobs and let England come back in the game.
Apart from demanding different skills compared to test cricket, IPL has increased the work load on Indian players, in addition to their busy international calendar.
We can easily look up at Indian team’s schedule in 2011, which features just a 20 day rest between their tour to South Africa and their schedule for the world cup, another four days after their world cup last match and the start of the IPL, a mere week between the end of IPL and the first T20 in West Indies, and just five days from the last working day in West Indies to the first tour match in England.
You can only expect too much from a collection of individuals. It is impossible for a group of people to keep the level of their performance that long in such a busy schedule.
Then there is another important debate, of players keeping their franchises at higher priority than playing for the Indian team. An example of this is Sehwag postponing his shoulder injury till his franchise’s exit from the IPL at the cost of him missing the first two tests against England. Another example is Gambhir playing through injury for his franchise while opting not to play through an elbow injury for India.
IPL with all its charm and excitement has no doubts proved to be a bane for Indian cricket. The BCCI needs to review the role of IPL and its scheduling in order to save Indian cricket from facing more humiliation in the coming years.