Disastrous defeats on the home turf against Pakistan and England have been hard to bear. Particularly since they came after the humiliation we had in England and Australia last year. Where do we turn ?
Commentators have been quick to call for several half measures. Sacking of Dhoni, Sehwag, replacing this person with that etc., quick fixes that, they hope will bring some improvement in performance.
Amidst all this, the BCCI has maintained an unusual calm, pretending that nothing serious has happened. Like the Bourbons, BCCI seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. As one foreign player remarked,they seem to be obsessed with cash more than with cricket. After all the next IPL season is not far away. That is where cash is and they must get ready for the big carnival.
The beginning of wisdom is said to be a salutary shock. Even a salutary shock , it seems, cannot make BCCI any wiser than it is. May be it will need a rude shock ! That shock will , by some divine intervention, have to be the scrapping of IPL ! But who will kill the golden goose?
IPL will no doubt make the present generation of Indian cricketers and retired foreign cricketers richer by the year and Indian cricket all the poorer, but bring about the end of all serious cricket in India.
We have sadly seen many IPL casualties. Take Rohit Sharma who started his career as a highly promising test cricketer. One remembers his entry into test cricket and the series against Australia in Australia when Australian cricketers and commentators were so impressed with his talent, technique and temperament that they talked of him as a future Tendulkar. Technique, temperament and to some talent were precisely the casualties when he got fully immersed in IPL. Result: he is not even sure of his place in the team today.
Ishant Sharma is another case in point. One remembers the awe inspiring spell he bowled to Ponting in one of the matches in that series. Australians feared and respected him and referred to him as one of the best finds India has had for a long, long time. Is he sure of his place in test cricket today?
IPL will continue to flourish because everyone stands to gain- the players, organisers, commentators, cheer leaders, media, advertising agencies, sponsoring companies,foreign cricketers and travel agencies who get to make a fast buck. I think it was Mathew Hayden who said in one interview that the Indians were throwing large sums of money at the foreign players and asked why they should not accept it.This, he felt, was only the tip of the iceberg.All gained except the large number of cricketer lovers and probably, the government.
If IPL is here to stay, can we at least think of a grand strategy for resurrecting Indian cricket ? A strategic action plan that looks at both the long term and the short, identifies and nurtures talent and protects it from the ravages of IPL-like fixtures that tamper with their technique even before it is fully developed , a plan that spells out execution measures that are free from regional bias and personal whims. Perhaps that plan could focus on improving the quality of domestic cricket, on strong international exposure for the under19s and on selection committees, well paid, but willing to devote more time and energy to the task of observing and evaluating talent at all levels.
Can 2013 bring in something new?