Michael Hussey admits to ‘tricky’ TNPL conundrum

The former Australia batsman believes local talent should emerge unhindered in an arena like the TNPL, but understands the need “to make the league more attractive.”

Michael Hussey believes Yo-Yo Test “shouldn't be mandatory in leagues like TNPL.”   -  K. Pichumani

The Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNCA) got off to a bumpy start this season as the Supreme Court struck down the plea to allow outstation cricketers in the tourney. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), instead, was asked to continue with players who are registered with it.

And former Australian batsman, Michael Hussey, a commentator with Star Sports for TNPL, admitted it was a ‘tricky’ situation. “I can understand both sides of the argument. In an ideal world, you would like to have just local players from Tamil Nadu to give them exposure and experience to develop their game and hopefully go on to play for the State from that,” Hussey said.

However, cricket’s thriving commercial pulse, especially in the wake of leagues such as the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League, means the sport has to strike the right chord with broadcasters, sponsors and advertisers. Hussey concurs. “I also understand the TV and sponsors’ point of view. They want some better players to play to make the league more attractive and I guess sometimes without these sponsors, the league might not even exist,” he noted.

The Yo-Yo debate

Just as TNPL gathered steam, the larger cricketing world got caught up in a debate over the feasibility of the Yo-Yo Test as the only fitness parameter for national selection.

Ambati Rayudu, one of the top run-getters (602 runs) in the last edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), was dropped from the Indian squad after failing the Yo-Yo test. Rayudu’s exclusion created quite a stir, even as Jharkhand made the test — introduced to the Indian team during Anil Kumble's tenure as head coach — compulsory for all its players across age groups.

Read: Mitchell Johnson quits 'lengthy' BBL

Hussey weighed in on the Yo-Yo Test saying it “shouldn't be mandatory in leagues like TNPL.”

“These players aren't full-time professionals. That said, it's important for them to do it and work hard on their fitness because it gives them a taste of what it is like to be a professional and the level of fitness they require to succeed at the higher levels. So it shouldn't be compulsory in that if the parameters are not met, the contracts shouldn't be torn apart,” he explained.

A great series

As India gears up for the upcoming five-match Test series against England, Hussey talked up pacer Shardul Thakur’s chances of excelling in English conditions. Thakur, playing for the Super Kings, took 16 wickets in 13 matches this season and has been a stalwart for his first-class team Mumbai.

“I do rate Shardul Thakur highly. He's an excellent bowler, very skilful and that's why he could succeed in England if he's given an opportunity. He works to a plan and can set batsmen up... so given an improved level of consistency, he could be a very good international bowler,” Hussey pointed out.

As for England putting up a fight at home, the former Australian star felt the host “has some excellent players.”

He said, “Now people might think it is not as strong as it used to be in the past. James Anderson and Stuart Broad are probably at the back end of their career and there’s Alastair Cook as well. Their best cricket is probably behind them but they are quality performers and cannot be underestimated.

“There’s some quality young talent coming through... someone like Jos Buttler coming back into the team. There is Joe Root, Bairstow and Ben Stokes — all of them could make an impact. There are, however, batters who are still trying to find their place — Keaton Jennings, for instance, has got another chance, let’s hope he can make the most of it.

“Dawid Malan sort of did well in Australia but is still trying to find his feet at the international level. Mark Stoneman, though, lost his place in the side. They’re looking for players to lock down a couple of those spots, but it should be a great series.”

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