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Lessons from IPL - Sunil Gavaskar Column
by Sunil Gavaskar
Jun 09, 2008
Lessons from IPL - Sunil Gavaskar Column

It may well be a coincidence that the teams led by the big four of Indian cricket were the ones knocked out of the DLF Indian Premier League but there is enough evidence to suggest that those youngsters who are clamouring for young and fresh legs in the limited overs formats of the game may have to wait a while for their voices to be heard.

Though the skipper of the Deccan Chargers, VVS Laxman could not play all the matches of the DLF IPL, the other three, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid did more than enough to show that there is plenty of cricketing life in them yet.

It is fashionable to hear of energy levels, enthusiasm and all the modern talk but performance is what matters and it has no bearing on age but on skill and temperament as Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist also have shown in the IPL.

Ironically, the guys asking for fresh legs themselves have had a pretty ordinary tournament. It is easy to have fresh legs if one is only scoring a handful of runs. What good is that to the team? Some of them have got more headlines than runs and wickets and maybe it might be a good idea for them to get into print for deeds on the field rather than talk off it.

If anything, the DLF IPL has once again proven if ever proof was needed that talk is cheap but action is another thing altogether. All the glib and smooth talkers have been found out. Some of them have gone silent so that they do not attract any attention and have wisely decided to stay below the radar of a public scrutiny of their promises and how much has been actually delivered. Some have even more smartly asked that their performances should be evaluated and action taken if found that it was not up to the mark. This is a fiendishly clever way to stay on since most owners would rather find fault with the players and especially Indian players who will as usual be the soft targets than the high profile and high falutin wordsmiths.

It would be really interesting to see who is going to have the courage to ask questions and demand an explanation from them. Of course, the regular excuses that it is a process and there has to be patience and there cannot be results overnight will be given and in such a convincing manner that the heat will be turned elsewhere. Despite poor results, they will shamelessly stay on and by the time their contract ends three or five years later they will turn around and blame the Indian system for not getting the desired results and not the process which they initiated or whatever the new buzzword will be at that time. They will laugh all the way to the bank with hardly a contribution to Indian cricket.

It is good to hear that the huge success of the DLF IPL has prompted that its model be studied in business schools. It is a tribute to the minute planning that has gone into the event and while there will always be the odd bit of teething trouble there is little doubt that it has captured the imagination of not just the cricketing public but also of the management schools who want it to be part of their curriculum. Lailt Modi whose baby this has been and his team of administrators are the ones who deserve all the praise that is coming their way.

From a cricketing point of view there is room for improvement and this can be discussed in the meetings of the governing council before the next season. The over rate is simply not up to the mark and while it is understandable that in this heat it is not easy to bowl the overs quickly, the time that is wasted by the reserve players coming on the field with drinks and having a nice chatting session before they run off is hardly helping. Just go back and have a look at how the reserve players run on the ground with drinks at the fall of a wicket and are having a laugh and a joke even as the new batsman is at the crease.

Even from a tactical point of view, it makes sense not to give the new batsman time to settle down at the crease and get his breathing right before he faces the first ball. All that plus the constant changes in the field for just about every ball, is not helping the over rates. The Twenty20 format is such that the whole game has to finish in three hours flat. In England, Australia and South Africa there are heavy penalties for teams not bowling their overs in time but here teams are going past the cut off time not just by a few minutes or so but sometimes as much as 20 minutes and that is something that needs to be tightened for the next edition.

The IPL has been great but as always being ahead of the game will be crucial as it moves on to the next year.

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