IPL vs World Cup: Why BCCI’s CoA Needs to Rescue Indian Cricketers
In the last month, we’ve seen the BCCI's Committee of Administrators (CoA) contemplate writing to the ICC about throwing out a team from the World Cup that had already qualified for the tournament, and got that idea completely rejected as well.
The question arises: Why is CoA not focusing more on India’s own campaign at the World Cup instead, and the threat posed by the hectic schedule of the upcoming 12th season of the Indian Premier League?
Should all World Cup-bound cricketers be made to play the entire 12th edition of the IPL – all 14 games plus/minus the knockouts?
Can we risk having a fatigued Jasprit Bumrah or Virat Kohli or Mohammad Shami at the World Cup?
Because as committed as they are to winning a third World Cup trophy, there’s only so much the players can do.
While Australia and England declared, even before the player auction, in December that their players would have to return home in the first week of May, India’s cricket board seems to be putting faith in the franchises to utilise the players with restraint.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli, in fact, put the onus on the players to ‘rest from some games’ if their team is doing well or not attend practice sessions if they’ve found the rhythm.
“As a cricketer, you have to map out how many practice sessions you really need. If you’re hitting the ball well, there’s no need to go to a practice session and tire yourself out for three hours. If your team is in a great position during the tournament, you don’t mind taking 2-3 games off also.”Virat Kohli, India Captain
The question then is if Mumbai Indians have a season similar to last year’s, at which point is Jasprit Bumrah to inform coach Mahela Jayawardene that he wants to sit out of three games? When does Mohammad Shami, picked as Kings XI Punjab’s fast bowling spearhead, get to decide he doesn't want to attend a practice session when 37-year-old Chris Gayle is? Or, what does Virat Kohli tell Chahal when the young bowler says he needs to take a step back?
Because as powerful and as loved as our cricketers are, some decisions need to be made by factors that govern the game, not individuals who play it.
And this is where the CoA actually needs to step in.
They are the three people in Indian cricket who have no vested interests in the BCCI. Three people who were placed in the board by the Supreme Court and thus don’t need to worry about not garnering enough votes in the next election or about the politics of dropping stadium revenue or about getting on the wrong side of billionaire IPL franchise owners.
Because Club vs Country is a choice that will someday need to be made by cricketers as well, and were the COA to make this one executive decision, of maybe letting players only play say 9 matches this IPL. This could not only help along India’s World Cup campaign this season, but also help set a precedent for the next time a cash-rich domestic tournament poses a threat to performance in the national jersey.
But then, the question is, between their leaked emails and their public bickering on coach selection and player punishment, is the COA ready to make a change that Indian cricket really needs?