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Twenty20 Ripple Effect
by Gulu Ezekiel
Sep 28, 2007
Chairman of the selection committee Dilip Vengsarkar had shocked many when he made a statement last year that the talent pool on the domestic circuit was shrinking and not many were available who were able to make the jump to international cricket.

The absence of the big names from the inaugural ICC Twenty-20 World Cup—forced or voluntary, one can never be sure—has however revealed that there are plenty of skilled young players who have had to live in the shadow of their more famous contemporaries. Suddenly that shrinking talent pool seems to be overflowing. How else can one explain the BCCI suddenly raising the number of contracted players from just 17 to 33 after the spectacular victory in South Africa?

The ripple effect is being felt in many quarters. One can well understand if the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble (in Tests) and Zaheer Khan (in ODIs) are looking over their shoulders as, to mix one’s metaphors, the young pups of T20 cricket are nipping at their heels.

This is of course a healthy trend for Indian cricket. There is nothing like competition to make the established stars aware that they cannot take their places for granted.

The stark improvement in the field and between the wickets from the NatWest series performance in England and the T20 World Cup immediately afterwards was pretty stark.

In fact one can categorically state that India narrowly losing the 50-overs series 4-3 to England was simply due to the home side’s superior out-cricket skills.

The other effect is already being seen on the breakaway Indian Cricket League. Kapil Dev has admitted to “teething problems” which has seen the launch being put off till mid-November. The league was announced immediately after the World Cup debacle in the West Indies earlier this year and was driven by the frustrations of many sidelined domestic and international cricketers.

The BCCI promptly stole some of its thunder earlier this month by announcing its own Indian Premier League with loads of money and lots of big names being thrown in. And now with the wave of euphoria sweeping Indian cricket and the BCCI suddenly turning generous to the same cricketers it had shunned just six months ago, you can be sure there will be plenty of those who have joined now having second thoughts.

All that aside, it is now time to turn one’s attention to the ODI series against Australia (plus one T20 game).

Despite all their riches, the lot of an Indian cricketer is not that enviable if you examine the workload. There are some players, including captain MS Dhoni, who have not been home for nearly four months.

It is a tough grind and it will be a challenge for them to switch their focus from the thrill of the World Cup win to the new task at hand.

The Aussies have come out smoking with their usual verbal volleys. There is no doubt they have been hurt by their lack of success in South Africa and will be looking to prove a point. The Indians should be ready for a fiery battle ahead.

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