Indian cricket: Rotation must come ‘full circle’
Amidst disgruntled voices at the rotation policy for the Indian cricket team, logic says it's a must and a way to implement it wisely must be found.
The old guard fired back at what the selectors and team management had done. Familiar voices Wasim Akram and Ravi Shastri (and of course Sunil Gavaskar) slammed the selectors for following a rotation policy. Why would they not? India had had a disastrous performance in Australia. Unfortunately this is an excellent case study of how easily we’re coerced into believing that the old way is the best way. For the wrong reasons.
The true picture
But days after this collective clarion call from commentators and experts alike, Wasim Akram, now a respected voice in Indian circles because he tours as a commentator to most destinations where India play, retracted his statement and said “Rotation is a good policy. MS Dhoni is a sensible man and he convinced me it was the best way forward.” He was right this time.
The trouble in India is that the people who slam a policy scarcely whisper anything at the time it is conceived. They should have raised a hue and cry. Whether or not the rotation policy had worked, they would at least have garnered some respect for taking a stand.
Say it out first up
Or is this a case of them waiting for the results, 'following due diligence' and then of course fairly voicing their opinion. Well, unless the media has changed the transcript, it seems a hypocritical attitude. Now, they could have instead come out in the open saying "in hindsight, the rotation policy is NOT SUITABLE." But instead they 'slammed' it.
Now, we come to an earlier talking point, about overkill being commensurate with overpay. Sunil Gavaskar is hell bent on the theory that if players are paid as well as they are today, they had better play "continuous cricket" and not complain about a taxing schedule. How fair can that be? Does every player see money as the only motivation, even if whole generation of cricketers probably did take up the game because it gives great financial reward?
'India' needs its excesses
The sheer demand of TV means that the Board is forced to play the Indian team around the year. There simply is no rest. Players experience stress injuries. There is no time for recovery. No time for off-season training. And to top it all, the social functions from sponsors have increased, making it almost mandatory for players to attend (they’d rather be relaxing on their own and visualizing their cricket targets for the day to follow) Yes, only India plays this much cricket, even if the volume of cricket has increased in other countries.
Even with their successes over the last four years, India has by no means proven itself to be the undisputedly best team in the world. Yet, it’s simply ‘Beatle mania’ in India whenever the India team plays cricket or even goes shopping. Sponsors cash in on the viewership of the 1.2 billion strong population and its sporting preferences. Indian cricket's representative cricketers simply have to play all year around. "The revenues are channeled towards improving conditions for poorer cricketers, leave alone that the top cricketers get paid well and are able to sustain their careers," an official says. Yes, it's surely a win-win situation but we have to reduce the load on a crop of players and, therefore, rotation in one form or another is a must.
Understand practical rotation
Rotation simply cannot be discarded as a policy. Even at the time it was conceived for the Indian team, everybody would have known that there ought to be a selectivity element. While an entire 'half-team' does not change, the changes would be more impactful than just one or two players being rested; about four players would need to be rotated wisely.
Gavaskar however, wisely stated that Yusuf Pathan should not be written off. Well, Rohit Sharma is equally talented and together with Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla and many others who are fit as a result of the ‘IPL era’ can form a second team for India. Once the combination clicks, nobody complains of a lack of co-ordination.
Putting wheels on spokes
‘Play only your best team’ may sound like a policy that’s practical-in-hindsight giving the unsuccessful England and Australia tours. But that is simply is not correct in the context of the Indian cricket team's commitments (read entertainment market). Sure, if you reduced the team’s annual commitments to about a third, that would make perfect sense! But we can't afford to block all those revenues from cricket which can be wisely used for its own betterment.