Cricket has entered a new era, where the elegance of traditional shots still captivates fans, but injuries have introduced new complexities. In this contemporary age, the notion of players being able to rest and remain in the team’s dressing room has gained prominence. It is a stark contrast to a time when players like Anil Kumble, MS Dhoni, and Yuvraj Singh showcased remarkable courage and dedication by playing through injuries and adversity.
In the past, being “rested” meant sidelining a senior player who had served the team faithfully. However, nowadays even players with limited experience are considered for periods of rest. While injuries have evolved, the loyalty of fans remains unwavering. However, the voice of the fans seems to carry little weight in decisions regarding player rest and team selection. As fans, we may need to take some responsibility for enabling trolls to derive momentary amusement at the expense of players.
Gone are the days when a single captain led the team to triumph in multiple ICC tournaments within a short period. Now, the team has faced significant setbacks in several major tournaments, despite witnessing the leadership of numerous captains in a single year. This transformation is evident. Speaking candidly about injuries, players no longer fear losing their positions, knowing that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will finance their treatment. The National Cricket Academy (NCA), once an aspiring cricketer’s dream, has now become a ‘leisure haven’ where injured players focus more on commercial engagements than the game itself.
While there is no objection to players pursuing personal interests, it is crucial to remember that they are primarily cricketers. The notion that players deserve rest and recovery time because they participated in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and subsequent World Test Championship (WTC) is debatable. Why should the BCCI provide respite to players who willingly choose to participate in the IPL? The responsibility for this situation lies with both the cricket board and the players, as neither group seems to be taking significant steps to keep passionate Indian fans engaged.
On the other hand, players like Ben Stokes boldly prioritize their commitments. Despite being bought for a substantial amount in the IPL, Stokes states that he will only bat for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and takes time to recuperate for bowling for Ashes. This level of commitment is evident when he willingly sacrifices moments in prestigious series like the Ashes. In contrast, Australia, a team known for distinct prime players for each format, prioritizes preparation for the WTC Finals and the Ashes over the IPL. While these lucrative and cash-rich leagues undeniably provide entertainment, their claim of nurturing young cricketers appears to be superficial. If renowned players like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner, Jasprit Bumrah, and Rohit Sharma were to opt out of the IPL, the viewership would decline. If the IPL genuinely aims to foster young talent, the cricket board must offer better support to players participating in domestic tournaments like the Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy.
Opportunities for selection have increased with the emergence of new players, but it is unrealistic for everyone to debut simultaneously. However, this does not imply that preferred fast bowlers should be rested for extended periods and guaranteed a place in the team whenever they desire. Consistency is crucial in team selection.
Certain players, such as Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah, have been assured of their comeback despite their respective setbacks. While Pant is undeniably talented, it should not be overlooked that his injury was a result of his own off-field actions. Similarly, while Prithvi Shaw faces criticism for his extravagant lifestyle impacting his cricketing career, Pant receives special recognition from his IPL team. The focus should be on selecting the most deserving individuals based on their skills and performances, rather than favoritism.
Addressing the longstanding issue of inconsistent selectors, it would be wise to allow players to compete for a place in the national team based on their performance rather than elevating them to hero status while they engage in reckless behavior off the field.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official stance or views of any organization or entity. The article is meant to be opinionated and is based on the author’s interpretation of the provided information. Readers are encouraged to form their own opinions and perspectives based on additional research and information.