Ranji winning players not featuring in IPL is baffling, says Gavaskar

Hardly any player from a Ranji Trophy winning team or the semifinalists finds a place in the IPL franchises. Why?

The IPL is the world’s best T20 tournament and is hugely popular. But there are some oddities with the picking of the playing personnel.   -  K. Murali Kumar

As the world’s best T20 tournament comes to the play-off stage, the stars as well as the failures are being seen in the bright lights from which nobody can hide.

The foolishness of bidding extravagant sums for some players who have failed to deliver season after season does bring to the fore the question whether there is something more than what meets the eye. That is, how are franchises, especially their scouting teams, benefiting from such repeated errors of judgement?

Sure, any player can go through a lean patch, but when it happens season after season and a player keeps getting picked for astronomical sums, one is forced to wonder whether there is some quid pro quo somewhere.

The so-called mystery bowlers who look good in local leagues have been exposed time and again in the IPL. Franchises shell out huge amounts to buy them at the auction, but when it comes to bowling to international and national batsmen, these players have invariably cut a sorry figure. However, in the next season, they still get picked for crores, which is baffling to say the least.

Some batsmen too, who smash the bowling in local leagues, keep getting chance after chance every season in the IPL, but are yet to play a defining innings.

There have also been many one-season wonders, who have fallen away for the simple reason that they have lacked the basic technique needed to keep out a good delivery. And you get more good deliveries in one match of the IPL than they get in an entire local league. By the time they come for the second season they have been studied and found out and so aren’t seen again.

When you look at the states or Ranji Trophy outfits that these players have come from, you will find that they are all from teams which have their former players as scouts for the franchises.

Hardly any player from a Ranji Trophy-winning team or the semifinalists finds a place in the franchises. While it is accepted that the formats are totally different, the fact that the Ranji Trophy format requires batsmen in particular to have a good technique enables them to cope with the good deliveries far better than those who only play white ball cricket.

Have a look at the successful batsmen in the IPL and you will find that all of them have a good technique and so are able to deal with the good deliveries far better than the others. Those who have the extraordinary ability to hit those good deliveries for sixes are the game-changers, but all of them without exception also play red ball domestic first class cricket.

It is also the same with the bowlers who toil on lifeless pitches and so know how to restrict the batsmen a lot more than those who get a bagful of wickets on crumbling tracks.

As long as the scouts are not held accountable these kind of expensive flops will continue to be the norm rather than the exception.

This brings us to the conflict of interest situation, which comes up every season. Three of India’s greatest players have been asked to submit reasons why there is no conflict of interest in their roles as advisers, mentors or assistant coaches for their franchises.

Firstly, it’s important that whoever has complained about these stalwarts should prove where and how they feel the conflict is. Only if they convince the ombudsman should the players be asked for their response.

The simple fact is that former cricketers will more often than not, be connected with the game in some capacity or the other. The game benefits from their expertise and experience and can only get better with that.

A cricketer cannot give inputs on football or golf or badminton or tennis or kabbadi, to name a few sports, even if he may have been active in these at a lower level for fitness or recreational purposes. He is best placed to talk only about cricket, which he has played at the highest level.

So, if a conflict is seen in what he knows best then we could very well have a situation where none of the top cricketers would be able to be associated with the game. A cricketer also has to make a living after retirement and he can do it only in the area he knows best.

All these current charges against the three greats is simply to ensure that the running of the game goes to those who have hardly played it at the highest level or for that matter any level. By asking for their explanations they are being unnecessarily targeted and humiliated.

Prove the conflict of interest first and then ask for an explanation. In any case like most things in India where the stable door is closed after the horse has bolted, by the time a decision is taken, this year’s IPL will be done and dusted.