Tuesday, September 11, 2007

T20 is not just for 20-somethings

It's a measure of the BCCI's ineptitude that India is the only country to send a second-string side to a showcase event like the inaugural T20 World Cup. It's a fallacy to think of this as a slam-bam form of cricket only appropriate for youngsters. In an ODI, you have 20 powerplay overs plus about 10 slog overs at the end plus the overs in between. That would take more of a toll on the body of both a batsman and fielder than a 20-over innings. In fact the likes of Tendulkar and Ganguly may find it less physically taxing to play T20. If Tendulkar has indeed opted out, he's making the same mistake that Gavaskar made at the inaugural one-day World Cup in 1975 when he cussedly played out 60 overs against England and remained not out at 36. He thought then that limited overs cricket was a passing fad and how wrong he was. T20 similarly is here to stay because it's going to be great for spectators. What people will enjoy is the improvisation that will come into both the batting and bowling. And that brings us to the second fallacy - that T20 is a crude slam-bang affair. One of the best number seven batsmen in one-day cricket was Michael Bevan, and that's because of his clever chips which gave him two runs when other batsmen would get singles. He relied more on improvisation and placement than on sheer power. That's where the experience of Tendulkar, who can move across the stumps and put the ball anywhere between long on and fine leg, would have come into play, especially when there's a licence to take risks. Ganguly too would have excelled at charging the fast bowlers for his slashes over the covers. We needed them at the inaugural World Cup. If they needed rest, we should have let them sit out in the one-day series against England, which was surely less important than a World Cup. And that would also have opened up opportunities for a few new faces who could then have come into the reckoning for inclusion in the T20 squad. The same applies to our most successful bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Ramesh Powar, who have been left out after being made to play a long series against England. If roly poly Powar is good enough for one-day cricket, he should not be left out of T20 either. In fact I think his bowling would've been just as effective as it was in the ODIs. We left him out of the one-day World Cup, paid the price for it, and have not learnt from it. Instead we have gone back to has-beens like Harbhajan who have done nothing in the interim to make a comeback into the Indian team. BCCI sucks. The selectors suck. They have let India down again. Look at Australia, who have approached this World Cup just as seriously as the other one, with their best players in the fray. Ricky Ponting's wife is ill, but even that could not keep him away. It just shows the difference in attitude and management of Aussie and Indian cricket.

8 comments:

Homer said...

Sumit,

There are multiple strains of thought - we have an intense and grueling cricketing schedule lined up over the next few months, we have to start somewhere with rebuilding this team,at some stage replacements have to be identified and finally, there is no pressure to win the Twenty20 only because we have not played enough of it.

If the seniors had been selected, people would have their say about seniors blocking the path of the juniors.. Now that the juniors play, the opposite refrain follows.

Also, what is more important - the Test series against Pakistan and Australia or an hastily arranged "World Cup" to fill ICC coffers?

What are our priorities?

Sumit Chakraberty said...

homer, i don't see the aussie seniors resting during the world cup to remain fresh for the series to come. i think selection should be based on all-round merit not age, and team-building should not come at the cost of team results. the best opportunity to give a few seniors some rest and identify replacements was the long odi series right after the test series in england. but rohit sharma just sat on the benches and watched match after match, and it wasn't even as though we were winning everything.

Soulberry said...

I agree T20 isn't all about slam-bang. The slam and bang needs class or two driving it.

I agree that it's not all about youngsters, but I am not too sure if Sachin et al are the best players for the game.

They are still the best players for India unfortunately, but there comes a time when one has to go beyond the present and work at the immediate future.

Golandaaz said...

I initially almost did not read the post and was inclined to give it a pass. But you make some very interesting points. I am not sure I looked at it the way you do. I think I agree Sachin should probably quit 50/50 for the 20/20. Will be better for his ageing body!

John said...

A point we surely should not miss is what long spells on the bench can do to any player. Gambhir, Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma et al, have all been out of action, moving from nets and dressing rooms in one city to the other that there is a real chance of purposelesness creeping into their performances.
They need to don the India cap at some point, and I think that any excuse is a good reason to let them do so. And the fact that other teams have sent their top-drawer teams is good. It'll give them a taste of what is certain to come once Sachin, Saurav, Dravid, Kumble go, and Zaheer follows thereafter.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

john, soulberry: if it's about giving players in the wings a chance, why not in the one-days? why the world cup, a gala event that the whole world of cricket is watching? it shows the short-sightedness of our board, which is also the reason why india has played only one 2020 international and is the least prepared among the main teams. and if it's time for sachin, soruav and dravid to hang up their limited overs boots, then it should not be only from the t20s... golandaaz, yes sachin missed an opportunity to showcase his mastery over all forms of the game. or did he cop out, i wonder? surely he cannot pretend t20 is somehow a lesser form of the game. what's so great about 5050, anyway? by that reasoning, only test cricket is the real deal.

tubby said...

T20 is still a fun game and should be taken in that way. I second Homer when he says the test series against Pakistan and Australia are the main targets rather than a fun world cup.

Now when seniors are not in the team, there is a hue and cry ovet it, they are in the team, then they are supposed to be blocking the youngsters.

What is Indian team supposed to do ?

Sumit Chakraberty said...

homer, tubby, the debate was never about tests or t20s. test cricket is the real thing, i totally agree. but there's not much to choose between one-days and t20s, and my argument was that some players could have been rested in the one-day series preceding the t20 world cup so that we could've fielded the best possible side. more on the team composition in a forthcoming post on the indian team before their first match. cheers, and tubby, i like your post about agarkar which immediately qualifies Tubby's Zooter for my blogroll :)