Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Is overkill killing cricket?

It is a game we swear by. but with a frenetic tournament or series unfolding every month, spectator interest is beginning to flag. the writing’s on the wall: excess doesn’t always spell success

The golden goose is bleeding

The often back-breaking and soul-destroying pyrotechnics of Twenty20, could turn out to be a game-changer that world cricket can do without, writes satish chapparike

As Team India takes on the world’s number one-ranked ODI outfit led by Ricky Ponting in a seven-match series at home, will all eyes be on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys? Well, we can’t be sure. The appeal of an Australia-India clash in the one-day cricket arena is immense no doubt, but too much of a good thing can prove counter-productive. Cricket overkill is beginning to take a toll on spectator interest.

Both sides are somewhat depleted owing to injuries picked up by key players in the course of proliferating tournaments. The Indian team in particular has the looks of a recovery ward of a general hospital. Aggressive openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag and dashing all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, a crucial trio, are coming off injuries.

And what’s happening in Sachin Tendulkar’s body and mind? Only he himself has the answer. He is not getting any younger. Although he still pulls more than his weight in the side, he is far more injury-prone now than he has been ever before in his long, illustrious career.

Consider Dhoni's case. He is the busiest player in world cricket today. Since November last year, he has played five Test matches, 25 ODIs and eight T20 internationals, all of them as captain. In between, Dhoni played in the domestic Challengers and Corporate Trophy tournaments. That apart, his calendar is overflowing with non-cricketing commitments. He is at present the most sought after brand ambassador in India and the market loves him. Money is flowing into his bank account all right, but it is pushing him to the verge of snapping point..

Then we have younger players like Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma in the middle order. Though both are talented, neither has lived up to his billing yet.

Among the bowlers, pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is out of action. Munaf Patel is returning from a long lay-off. Irfan Pathan has gone into a limbo. And the temperamental Sreesanth has all but vanished from the scene. This has left the selectors with rather limited options: Ishant Sharma, R.P. Singh, Ashis Nehra and Praveen Kumar. The quartet looked all at sea during the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa.

“Too much of cricket is having a negative impact on players as there is no respite for international cricketers. Indian players are especially busy. Everybody is in a hurry to grab as much as possible as quickly as possible. They are paying a price for it,” says former India wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani.

It is not as if Australia is free from injury worries. Michael Clarke and Callum Ferguson, the backbone of the Aussie middle order during their ICC Champions Trophy triumph, are injured. Australian speedster Brett Lee has only recently recovered from injury.

An overdose of cricket is pushing the players over the edge and wrecking their technique. Young cricketers are picking up bad habits in the T20 arena – these are becoming increasingly difficult to shrug off. Players have little time to go back to the nets to iron out the chinks. Former selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar, speaking exclusively with TSI, said: “Injuries are a part and parcel of a game. But players must know how to manage themselves.”

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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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