The BCCI’s Elephant in the Room

The IPL is in full swing and like many millions of cricket fans around the globe, we are watching on at this amazing spectacle. We can debate the pros and cons of the tournament but it is undeniably the biggest, brashest and most successful 20/20 tournament our game has to offer. The packed grounds heaving with humanity, making more noise than I thought possible at a cricket game. Whilst the Big Bash and 20/20 blast are possibly, in terms of quality, a similar standard the feel and intensity is much different, packed grounds and rampant commercialisation of the star players make it a more prestigious tournament to play in than any other, and of course it is the only tournament the Indian superstars play in therefore in the minds of many it makes it the best.

However, has the BCCI reluctance to allow their talent to play abroad in other 20/20 competitions helped the Indian Team? In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s India were the white ball kings winning both the 20/20 world title and the 50 over world cup, granted the latter was in India but many pundits in the media touted (those of an English persuasion) the IPL as one of the main reasons that they were so consistently successful in the format. This allied with the fact that India was already playing more white ball cricket than most anyway, due to the appetite within the country for it, then you had what was deemed an unstoppable juggernaut. The rest of the world were behind because of this it was said, this was backed up by a number of prominent former players and pundits all extolling the virtues of the IPL.

A quick glance at the records though reveals an unhappy quandary for the BCCI, outside of sub-continental conditions the Indian 20/20 side has not made the final of the World T20. It also became apparent that in sub-continental conditions sides were catching up as their experience in the IPL (the mercurial and brilliant West Indies sides of 2012 and 2016 being the finest examples) meant they had the ability to score runs and take wickets in conditions that were previously alien to them. In contrast India seem to be unable to adapt to foreign conditions in major tournaments. Since 2013 of India’s superstar only Chesteshwar Pujara has played abroad for any length of time, mainly in red ball cricket, and this has coincided with sides that have not even threatened to win a major tournament in white ball cricket. Whilst this is no drought it shows of a team in transition and most noticeably of a team unable to adapt in white ball cricket away from their native pitches. Indian cricketers are now in danger of becoming very similar to English Premier League footballers. Playing in the best competition in the world but not gaining the experience of other cricketing cultures leading them woefully unprepared for major tournaments outside of their home country. With home advantage becoming even more prevalent in the last 2/3 years the BCCI must look at their policy of not allowing their best players to play in other countries otherwise they run the risk of being left behind in this increasingly global game.

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