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By Sunil Gavaskar
What a final we had! It was just the kind of close well fought game that was needed to finish off what was another great edition of the Indian Premier league.
Nothing is more disappointing than a tame one sided final or in a league situation the winners being known well ahead of the last few matches of the league. What was revealing was how important tactics were in determining the result. I have to be honest here and say that I didn’t think tactics were a huge part of this slam-bang format of the game.
Sure the use of slow bowlers straightaway with the brand new ball is a tactic but it’s been used before in the 50 overs format too. It was the thought put in for field placing which was most interesting since it showed that captains were just not looking to rotate the bowlers but were prepared to do the homework for different batsmen and then use the bowlers accordingly too.
Adam Gilchrist was hardly ever given a seam bowler to bat against and every skipper made sure that a spinner was operating when the Australian opened the batting. What was surprising is that Gilchrist, while going through one of those horror patches did not think of dropping himself down the order to say number four even if it meant that he would in all probability play two spinners at that stage of the innings.
By the way, nobody seems to have minded his bad patch as they did Yuvraj’s poor run with the bat. It’s the usual perception that if an Indian player fails then he is sulking or not showing team spirit or whatever but if a foreign player has the same bad run then it’s just poor form.
It’s the same perception with coaches, selectors, administrators too. An Indian coach selector administrator is always perceived as if he will favour his club, state or zone players but not an overseas coach or selector or official.
Have a look at who all have been brought by various overseas captains, coaches and you will see that not much is different. Most if not all overseas Rajasthan Royals players are from Victoria and Hampshire where Warne played. Fact is that people are far more comfortable with those whom they have seen and know than those whom they haven’t.
Did anyone ever question Damien Martyn’s selection for Rajasthan Royals at the age of 40? Would an Indian player out of first class cricket for three or four years ever get picked like Martyn was and at that age? Captains have got their pals as coaches; coaches in turn have got their pals as support staff. Nothing wrong with that, for it’s just the comfort factor of working with someone you know and have faith in but just imagine if an Indian were to do that? There would be charges of nepotism parochialism and what not.
The National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru produces coaches, trainers, physios every year but none of them ever get to be part of the IPL even as assistants. This is the Indian Premier League and if qualified Indian coaches, trainers, physios are not going to get the opportunity to learn and practice their skills then who is? Not for a moment is it being suggested that only Indians should be taken but wouldn’t it be a great thing if all those who are graduating from the NCA are able to work under some of the known overseas guys and gain experience and learn more of the craft. Wouldn’t Indian cricket benefit more with this than having assistant coaches from overseas? More crucially for the franchises they would be able to save some money too.
The T20 format continues to grow from strength to strength and so now even as the IPL is over the ICC World Twenty20 starts. India won the inaugural edition and Pakistan won the next. Both these teams have the variety in bowling and the depth in batting that has helped them to win these events.
That Pakistan has reached two successive finals is an indication of how dangerous a side they are in this format. Their biggest plus is the all-rounders they have in their team. They will be coming into the tournament fresh but also with the baggage of the suspensions and bans on some of their leading lights.
Yet only a fool will write off the Pakistanis.
The most fascinating team will be the Afghanistan team and they will be watched with much interest. They are in a tough group with India and South Africa and how well they do, will determine to a great extent their future, for if they do well there could be more sponsors, which can only help their cricket but if they lose badly then they may be forgotten till they qualify again.
The Australians will as always be the danger team and since this is the one trophy not yet in their cabinet they will go flat out for it, knowing that there is a big break for them after this event. The West Indies at home will be formidable too and if Gayle gets going anything is possible and as Kieron Pollard nearly displayed in the recently concluded IPL even the impossible is probable.
On a personal note am looking forward to the trip since the Caribbean isles are my favourite cricketing destination and it’s been a fairly long time since I have been there. There is also the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the knighting of Sir Garfield Sobers on the 15th May and with Wes Hall, Viv Richards, Ian Chappell and Brian Lara speaking at the dinner, it promises to be a memorable night.