Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli’s reported advice to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) that the men’s team’s main fast bowlers be rested for the Indian Premier League (IPL) so that they remain “fresh and fit” for the World Cup that would immediately follow the IPL T-20 tournament is sound counsel.
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Kohli is known to speak his mind out without inhibitions which is more often than not a positive attribute though sometimes it can land him in embarrassing situations.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the IPL which is a tournament spanning six weeks takes a heavy toll of the participating players in terms of fitness and stamina. This is especially so with pace bowlers who bowl their guts out in crunch situations to prove their worth so that they command a bigger price at the next tournament and are deemed doubly more useful for the Tests, the One-day Internationals and the T-20s at the international level.
While IPL gives them good exposure and helps hone their skills, they tend to feel jaded and spent out per se. Those like Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and some others who are certainties for the World Cup need to be at their best fitness levels, fresh and bubbling when they participate in the prestigious World Cup event which is held every four years.
This time around, the World Cup is slated from May 30 to July 14, 2019 while the IPL is expected to run until the third week of May, 2019.
That will leave little time for the players to recover their energies and reach peak fitness levels.
Unlike the IPL which is a privately-funded extravaganza, the World Cup has the country’s prestige tied to it. Arguably, especially when India plays arch-rivals Pakistan, there is a morale factor that is inextricable twined with it. Though it is a sporting event that must be viewed in the right sporting perspective, there is an element of national honour that is clearly recognisable, whether one likes it or not.
Viewed in a positive sense, that gives the Indo-Pak matches that extra pep that adds to the interest that the game evokes. As the jingoism in
the relationship fades away if and when things are sorted out, there would be a competitive and healthier perspective of looking at the matches on both sides.
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Virat Kohli’s suggestion that Indian pacers be kept out of next year’s IPL is bound to raise eyebrows in the Indian dressing room, especially
among the pacers themselves. But it would ultimately be for their good and for the competitiveness of the Indian team. There may also be
whispers as to why single out the pacers arguing that others too face fatigue and pressures. But there can be little doubt that the toll
that a month and a half of competitive sport takes of pacers would be much less in the case of others.
Reports say that the suggestion from Team India is that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should compensate the players who
would miss the IPL for the world tournament. That counsel can be examined but in no case must the proposal for excluding the pacers from IPL be made conditional on that.
Nation must come above any commercial considerations and that is a principle that must brook no compromises. Those among the select
pacers who choose to play in IPL despite a directive not to must be shown the door in the World Cup.
While this is a worthy cause that Virat Kohli has taken up, his other recent controversy admonishing a letter-writer who said he does not like Indian players but likes those from Australia and England and suggesting that such a person should migrate from India is outlandish.
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The letter-writer is well within his rights to like any player and the reprimand from Kohli is in poor taste and totally inadvisable.