The BCCI think-tank has to get its policy right and be proactive, writes Makarand Waingankar
Except for a few notable performances, IPL matches played on substandard pitches have barely entertained the paying public. T20 is nothing but instant entertainment and nothing more should be expected out of it. Fortunately it does provide a platform to some youngsters who might have been victims of state selection politics.
That these youngsters have exposed the selection system is very evident but it's time the BCCI analyses the system that looks more like assembly line manufacturing with unskilled labour rather than an institution churning out quality individuals. Currently 239 matches in senior cricket and 192 junior matches are played. A total of 431 matches.
From the point of opportunities this is a fantastic achievement and the BCCI deserves credit for it. No other country would have such a structure but if one analyses the structure of the tournaments, the senior players who play for the country don't get to play the national championship or any other tournaments.
Tendulkar rarely misses a match for Mumbai when he is available but the international programme has not allowed him to play more than 30 odd Ranji Trophy matches in 22 years! Harbhajan Singh hasn't played Ranji Trophy for seven out of 12 years and Kumble got to bowl to Tendulkar only once in the Irani Trophy.
The absence of international cricketers in the domestic championships has not helped the young cricketers who get thoroughly exposed when they are pitted against quality opposition.
To raise the quality of players, elite and plate groups were formed. Some more changes in the format have allowed teams from plate to reach quarter-finals but the overall quality continues to remain mediocre.
The batting-oriented IPL format is producing only aggressive batsmen who would be easily sorted out in Test cricket. It also churns out bowlers bowling two spells of two overs each.
The only solution could be to get rid of some of the tournaments like Duleep Trophy. The tournament was started half a century ago to get top players of zones to play against each other. With zonal selectors indulging in the quota system, Duleep Trophy has lost its charm.
And despite playing 431 matches, we are struggling to get half a dozen genuine quick bowlers. If there is a three tier system instead of elite and plate, only the top quality teams will play against each other in Super group. To get into Super group of 10 teams, the outfits from elite and plate will have to work really hard to perform.
The Super group of 10 teams can then play on home and away basis and the match can be of five days. It's the extra one day of 90 overs that will decide the calibre of a player. There will be change of approach. Fitness will have to be top class. And a team can come back in the match.
2011-12 will be a tough season for India. The aging players are tiring. Pressure will certainly mount on the World Champions. The think-tank of the BCCI has to get its policy right and be proactive in managing this challenge. At present the structure is unlikely to produce good quality players. You simply can't rest on your laurels.