Daily Archives: 11 February 2007

Indian Team for World Cup

With the injuries to Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar in the first two games against Sri Lanka, the selectors may be justified in feeling that they are going into tomorrow’s important selection meeting with their hands tied behind their back. [The selectors select the Indian team for the World Cup on 12 Feb 2007.]

In today’s game against Sri Lanka at Rajkot, Zaheer Khan is also injured!

As a result, I can’t see the selectors selecting any team other than the one listed below (in batting order):

1. Robin Uthappa
2. Saurav Ganguly
3. Rahul Dravid
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Virender Sehwag
6. Yuvraj Singh / Dinesh Karthik
7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
8. Irfan Pathan / S. Sreesanth
9. Ajit Agarkar / Munaf Patel
10. Harbhajan Singh / Anil Kumble
11. Zaheer Khan

In this team, Dinesh Karthik would go as a batting cover and not quite as a reserve wicketkeeper. The team will have adequate ‘keeping cover even without Karthik as both Rahul Dravid and Robin Uthappa ‘keep well.

I believe the above team is a fair call.

However, the main problem with this team would be the lack of batting cover in case one of the bats fares really badly in the Windies. In this sense, the team has been hampered by the no-show (in the last two games) of Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan. It has been hard to judge whether these two have recovered from their form and injury troubles respectively. It has also been hurt badly by the rain in Kolkata. So it has been hard to assess if Virender Sehwag has overcome his batting blues.

However, the selectors have to work with the cards that they have been dealt.

Given this situation, the only other choice may be for the selectors to lose a spinner for a batting cover. In that case Anil Kumble may lose out to a batsman — say Mohammed Kaif.

This is exactly where an allrounder would have come in really handy. Unfortunately, I feel, Joginder Sharma was lost early in the search process.

— Mohan

Another domestic competition strategy…

 

After reading Mohan’s article on how to improve the Indian domestic cricket competition, I thought I’d put my own ideas together. This is what I think needs to be done –

  • Create a new domestic cricket competition
  • Create six new teams to play in this competition
  • Operate this in a sports franchise model – similar to NFL or NBA
  • Get companies such as MRF, Sahara etc, bidding for these teams and owning them
  • Each team recruits its own players. BCCI will eventually have to work out salary caps etc.
  • Each team has 15 players, of which 4 can be overseas players.
  • Make sure that not more than one team make the same city its home.
  • Each team plays 2 Twenty20 games in a week – One on Saturday and one on Sunday
  • Each team plays the other team twice – basically one home and one away game
  • In week 6, the top 2 teams play a best of 3 finals – split over 2 days.

Ok, What are the advantages of doing this?

Well for starters, these franchises will recruit the best players nationally and internationally. Each team will also prepare the pitch to suit their home team’s strengths. For example, if MRF chooses to own a team, they may include players from its Pace foundation and prepare fast and bouncy tracks for its home games. This will get players playing on good tracks.

Playing against and with quality players will also improve the overall standard of the players playing in the tournament.

If this model works for Twenty20 games, we can even try this for the regular one-day format in a few years.

What happens to the current domestic competition?

 Several changes have been recommended on how to make the current model better. But the model I’ve suggested can co-exist with the current Ranji/Duleep trophy models. This tournament can probably (but doesn’t have to) replace the current Challenger trophy one day tournament which consists of 3 teams – India Seniors, India A and India B.

Why Twenty20? And what about revenue ?

Twenty20 cricket games have been good crowd pullers wherever they’ve been played – It is not going to be any different in cricket-mad India. Players like Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Sehwag, Dhoni are big crowd magnets and if we add other international stars to these games, spectators are bound to turn up in large numbers. So will the television stations, wanting to broadcast these games. One of the main reasons these games are so popular is because they just last around 3 hours – and people do not have to sit  around a complete day (or five) to watch a game to its finish. Because these games are so short, they are very lively and full of action.

Ticket sales, television and franchise merchandise should be able to cover the revenue part.

When do we find time to host this tournament in a busy international calendar? And what if some of the players are called up to play for the national team?

BCCI will have to work out when this tournament should be played. Domestic matches are always going to clash with international fixtures and players selected for national duty will not be available to play in these tournaments. Unfortunately, that is the way it works – but it does give opportunities for other players to step up and make an impact on these matches.

Is this going to improve the standard of cricket in India?

People will argue that Twenty20 is not “real” cricket and a twenty over game is not really going to improve anyone’s cricket. Sure, Twenty20 is a different breed of cricket, and some of the players’ weaknesses may not be as apparent as in the longer version, but as I said earlier – playing with and against quality players will help in improving the standard of all players playing.

 

There may be few flaws in the model and it may not be suitable in the exact form that I have proposed, but it is a sound model which I am sure can be made to work…

-Mahesh-