Easy on the hype

K. MURALI KUMAR

The IPL, since its inception, has brought to the fore a few unknown cricketers, but unfortunately not many have gone on to establish their places in the Indian side.

It is always exciting to watch a talented youngster display his promise in a high profile tournament. The tendency to get carried away is greater if that youngster happens to be a 17-year-old. Sarfaraz Khan (in pic), turning out for Royal Challengers, exhibited pluck to play a swashbuckling knock against Rajasthan Royals a few nights ago. The media went gaga, so did a few former cricketers of other countries as well. Not surprisingly, the young man was touted as the future hero but the crucial fact is that the euphoria was based on one knock. Of course, the young man had performed well in the junior level tournaments but he needs to be allowed to get on with his game.

The IPL, since its inception, has brought to the fore a few unknown cricketers, but unfortunately not many have gone on to establish their places in the Indian side. Starting from Manpreet Gony, the first to benefit from performing in the IPL, to Kuldeep Yadav who was picked last year after his few impressive overs in the CL T-20, the transition from franchisee cricket to international cricket has not been smooth. Some of them like Gony, Asnodkar, Rahul Sharma and Saurabh Tiwary are not even permanent names in the IPL. Based on the past and for the sake of the future, it will be prudent not to overhype the talented youngsters, lest they lose their way completely.

I am saying this mainly because the glitz, glamour and attention that goes with the IPL tests one’s poise. Post IPL, the grind in domestic cricket is completely different in that a player’s attitude, determination and perseverance are tested ruthlessly. Therefore, the system as well as the media need to ensure youngsters like Sarfaraz, Shreyas Iyer and Hooda carry on with single-minded determination. In as much as it is the player’s responsibility not to get carried away, it is equally the responsibility of the cricketing fraternity and media not to make the players take things for granted based on a performance here and there.

Dravid made a significant statement that all the youngsters who are doing well in the IPL need to get runs in Ranji and other duration games in the domestic circuit. A simple statement, but he has conveyed a lot in his inimitable style. The propensity of a majority of players feeling that the long haul in domestic cricket is not worthy as much as turning out in the IPL can easily afflict the youngsters. In fact, quite a few who were earmarked as the future of Indian cricket a few seasons ago have hardly done anything of note.

I am not being negative nor am I averse to youngsters getting appreciated, but it is always better for the players to issue notices themselves to all concerned, through their deeds on the field. Sarfaraz and his ilk have the advantage of getting an early start but it is only the start. They will have to go through the various phases and become mentally stronger and better in terms of skills. In the meanwhile, it is critical that they do not allow themselves to be distracted by the generous appreciation they receive from the media and others in the fraternity. Sarfaraz and Shreyas Iyer have the advantage of playing for the same State as Rahane, who can be the best role model for them. Rahane was not in the media radar as some of his peers, but he has battled his way to become an integral part of Team India through hard work and tenacity. Very few can sort things out on their own, but youngsters have to identify someone and adopt them as their mentors. In an era where there is more to cricket, having a mentor is a must.