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Why is the Indian cricket board never clever?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012 - 10:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

There are lessons for BCCI in Cricket Australia’s decision to recall Shane Watson from CLT20, fearing burnout. Why is the Indian cricket board never so clever, asks Derek Abraham.

October 2, 2012: Virender Sehwag is doubtful for the Champions League Twenty20 after straining a ligament in his left ankle during India’s third and final Super Eight match in the World Twenty20 against South Africa in Colombo. He may need two weeks of rest.

Oct 11, 2012: Virender Sehwag has recovered from the injury and is declared fit to play in Delhi Daredevils’ opening Champions League match against Kolkata Knight Riders. Asked if Sehwag has been hurried into action, a BCCI official said, “The BCCI has nothing to do with it. It is a franchise tournament and it is for them to take a call.”

October 15, 2012: Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland has confirmed that Watson will be called home early from the Champions League in South Africa. “We’re concerned about Shane,” Sutherland said. “His injury record is unfortunate and what that tells us is that we need to monitor and manage him very carefully. We’re reviewing his load and his circumstance very closely.”

It’s a mad, mad world out there, and the Indian cricket establishment never ceases to contribute to the delirium. Yes, the Champions League Twenty20 — even the name’s a rip-off — is the BCCI’s baby, but aren’t Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa co-owners of the tournament? Why then is a fully fit Watson being asked to go back home and recover for the upcoming Test series against South Africa? And conversely, why is Sehwag, who ‘miraculously’ regained his fitness, is gladly taking part in this tamasha?

“You tell me what should be done,” former India skipper Bishen Singh Bedi retorts. “It’s all about your priorities. You’ve got to decide what’s more important — a Twenty20 series or a four-match Test series (against England). As far as the BCCI is concerned, everyone knows what their priorities are. And despite playing so much Twenty20 cricket, what’s our world ranking? We’ve not even made the semifinals of the World Twenty20 after winning the inaugural edition in 2007,” the spin legend adds.

The CLT20 final will be played on October 28, and the first Test against England starts on November 8. England will touch base on October 26 and play back-to-back three-dayers against different soon-to-be announced sides in Mumbai. In other words, Alastair Cook & Co will be ‘better prepared’ than MS Dhoni and his weary million-dollar mates.

Former India cricketer and coach Aunshuman Gaekwad wonders what Team India’s physios are up to?  “Australia have a system in place. Their physios and doctors monitor a player’s fitness and workload. Why can’t we act in a professional manner?” he asks. So true. But then, the world’s richest cricket board is obviously not the most proficient. How else can you explain Zaheer Khan’s selection for the England tour last year? The short-sightedness of the selectors’ as well as the team management meant Dhoni was forced to bowl himself on Day One of the first Test! And their ‘disaster management’ skills turned out be, well, disastrous. The man they flew in — RP Singh — was waddling all over the place.

Bedi isn’t done. “I was reading the newspaper this morning and it said we must learn to live with the fact that players have multiple identities and hence multiple loyalties. How on earth can you be loyal to more than one team, ideology or job? Yes, you can have multiple identities, but loyalty is always singular,” he says.

Forget Zaheer; don’t you remember how Sehwag delayed his surgery so as play in the IPL? He missed the subsequent tour of the West Indies and made an ‘unforgettable’ return to Test cricket with a King’s pair in the third Test at Headingley. “You’ve got to learn your lessons,” Bedi says. But does anyone care?

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