Playing in IPL advantage for Indian players before World Cup, says Kirsten

Players' workload has been a major talking point in the lead-up to the twelfth edition of IPL and Gary Kirsten weighs in on the debate.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain Virat Kohli (right), with Coach Gary Kirsten (centre), and bowling coach Ashish Nehra, launching the 'RCB App'.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Playing in the IPL will help and not hamper India's World Cup-bound players, believe Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) coaches Gary Kirsten and Ashish Nehra. Addressing the issue of players possibly focusing all their energies on the World Cup and giving the IPL lower priority, the pair felt competing hard in the T20 tournament would actually be beneficial.

"IPL is a pressure tournament, it is as good as international cricket, that's why everybody wants to play," said Nehra here on Saturday, speaking at an event to launch RCB's mobile application.

"So you are going to the World Cup through that pressure. If somebody tells Virat Kohli not to play the IPL, and come fresh for the World Cup, I don't think it's the right way. There's a three-week gap between the IPL final (middle of May) and India's first game (June 5). If you're not injured, three weeks is enough time. If someone tells me, 'You bowl in the IPL final today and then for the next three weeks you don't bowl, and then bowl straight away against South Africa,' -- I would not like to do that.

"Active rest is very important. If I'm a bowler, I keep bowling yorkers or good length balls in the IPL, I do the same thing in the World Cup. If I'm sitting at home, I've not played cricket for a while and think I'm going to deliver in the World Cup, it's wrong."
Kirsten agreed.

"I think it's an advantage to the Indian players, actually. Because IPL is such a pressurised tournament, it's great preparation for the World Cup," he said.

The South African hastened to point out that the IPL was not merely a practice opportunity ahead of the World Cup, but admitted that players had to balance multiple goals.

"We are not looking at this tournament as preparation for the World Cup," said Kirsten.

"It's tough for us. We're representing RCB here. But we've both played international cricket: we understand the demands. We'll be very reasonable in that space. Ultimately every player needs to know that their priority over the next 50-odd days is RCB. But if you get yourself match-ready during the IPL, that's going to hold you in really good stead during the World Cup."