Veteran batsmen Robin Uthappa and Suresh Raina have admitted the Indian Premier League (IPL) has superseded other domestic tournaments and have stressed on the need to treat seasoned players between the age group of 30 to 40 better.
Underlining how a cricketer who has been “consistently doing really well in the domestic circuit, but isn’t playing the IPL” has been overlooked at the cost of “someone who has had a mediocre Ranji Trophy but an excellent IPL” for higher-grade, Uthappa, a member of India’s victorious World T20 triumph in 2007 and multiple IPL champion, stated it has forced players to change their priorities.
“When you look at that dynamic from a player’s perspective, priorities also kind of shift a little in that sense. A player kind of feels and believes I have to do well here but I have to top it up with an excellent IPL so that it gives me a chance to move to the next grade. Ultimately, everyone wants to be playing cricket at the highest level,” said Uthappa during Sportstar Star Talk webinar series.
He further added that Rahul Dravid’s tenure in charge of India A recently has resulted in domestic performers being rewarded.
The webinar titled ‘The IPL success story and the road ahead for Indian cricket’ also included former Zimbabwe captain and pace bowling coach Heath Streak and Delhi Capitals chief executive Dhiraj Malhotra. The discussion was moderated by K.C. Vijaya Kumar, Sports Editor, The Hindu.
Raina, a successful batsman for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL who was part of India’s triumphant World Cup 2011 campaign, hoped there is clarity about the future of the players in his age-group. “We have got the fame, we have got the money but at the end of the day, we love playing cricket and want to play at the highest level,” Raina said.
Suresh Raina and Robin Uthappa at a Team India practice session in 2011. – FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS
“Look at Mike Hussey, he is the best example of having become tougher, more successful in his 30s. I am not saying Ranji is good or bad. I am saying give us a chance to prove ourselves, on fitness, performance, whatever. If we don’t, don’t even say anything to us. We’ll just switch off ourselves and go home forever,” he said.
Streak, who has been a support staff member of Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders, said that IPL has resulted in a massive change about aspirations of young cricketers across the globe. “I have a son who plays representative cricket for Zimbabwe. His aspiration is to play IPL before anything, so here’s a brand that’s working for you. People are aspiring to play IPL even before their country,” Streak said.
Malhotra, the former ICC Events Manager, explained why the IPL has become the most sought-after tournament. “You have a global exposure, best of the experts in terms of physios and trainers in IPL. Look at someone like Dhruv Shorey, the Delhi Ranji captain. He was with Chennai Super Kings. Even though he did not play many games but with a Dhoni or a Raina having his arm around him, he comes out as a better cricketer,” he said.
All the panelists agreed that playing in empty stadiums is the best way forward for IPL 2020.