The BCCI has to act quickly before the rot of T20 makes the base of the game brittle, writes Makarand Waingankar
It's summer and all roads lead to the nearest maidan to enjoy a game of cricket. Those who can afford enrol themselves in cricket academies. Others play with tennis balls but what is worrying is the adverse impact of the IPL on kids.
One of the prestigious clubs in Mumbai organized a T20 tournament for under-14 and 16 teams took part. Before the tournament, coaches of these teams were getting boys to practice fancy shots and the boys, even while in the ‘Q' at the bus stand, were seen practicing those shots while returning home.
A genuine 10-year-old Prithvi Shaw, who leads his under-14 team and scores hundreds at will, says playing T20 sharpens one's cricketing IQ! Credit to him for an equally sharp answer, but a boy who even Tendulkar feels is a genius may be lost to the game if he and other under-14s play T20.
To the mushroomed coaches and their academies, T20 helps them generate more funds in fewer days to get more boys to play. For them it's a business module. Enjoyment and entertainment are the keys for everyone playing in the tournament.
Some excited parents urge the media to propagate IPL for teenagers also. Reason? More money in fewer days for the kids, who will get more time to study. Amazing logic.
Kids and parents are mesmerized by the fantastic display of the stars in IPL and possibly dream that their kids hit the jackpot. Why prepare for a three-day tournament where money is less, is what they feel.
This scene is in contrast to what the NCA has been wanting to do. For most of the year the faculties of the NCA tour various associations to conduct coaching courses. None of the level courses talk about T20 coaching. Yet, quite a few qualified coaches in order to attract boys for their camps have devised methods that help kids hone skills required for T20.
There are two ways of looking at the problem. Either shut all the coaching courses at the NCA or ban T20 for teenagers. A teenager participating in T20 shouldn't be considered for the State if at all the BCCI is serious about the problem.
It took years of systematic hard work for the Tendulkars, Dravids, Gangulys, Kumbles and others to reach the top and maintain the level of consistency at the international level for more than a decade. It's because they worked on the basics of the game they could sustain the pressure and perform.
That is their success formula. But sadly, neither the coaches nor the teenagers are able to understand this.
The Lalit Modi saga will continue. But the BCCI has to act quickly before the rot of T20 makes the base of the game brittle. Cheerleaders and late night parties are not the only factors that detracts the teenagers but the plethora of T20 tournaments can easily change the mental make up of young players.