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HomeCricketRanji Trophy heroics not celebrated as much as one-off IPL exploits

Ranji Trophy heroics not celebrated as much as one-off IPL exploits

The one thing that the IPL has done is pretty much ensure that it is a shortcut to the India cap. Just one performance here and there catapults an unknown player to the fringes of the Indian team. Many of them fade away in the next season once the novelty and the unknown nature of their game are sorted out by the analysts. Already, some players and their families and coaches have got more media exposure than ever before. No wonder a solitary performance in the IPL pretty much takes you close to the India cap.

Sadly, the Ranji Trophy, which should be the national championship, has been relegated way below the white-ball tournament. Take, for example, the magnificent century scored by Vidarbha’s captain Akshay Wadkar in the finals of the Ranji Trophy; none of his family members or anybody else has been interviewed. Don’t forget that Wadkar had also kept wickets for almost two days in the hot sun as the Mumbai batters tried to put a score beyond the reach of Vidarbha in the fourth innings. To score a hundred despite that physical and mental tiredness with the challenge to stop the Mumbai batters deserved much, much more coverage than what he got. The left-handed all-rounder Harsh Dubey of Vidarbha, who captured a five-for and batted stubbornly in the second innings, has got almost zero coverage for that magnificent effort.

Contrast this with the huge media coverage that the parents, kindergarten teachers, uncles, coaches, and sports shop owners, who may have been marginally involved, get for being around the IPL performer after just one performance. The player also suddenly talks about how he was deprived by someone or another, perhaps failing to understand that he may not have deserved to have been picked up at all at that particular time. It looks like Indian coaches are fair game. If all these one-hit wonders also bring out the deficiencies of the overseas coaches, then they could be taken seriously. The overseas coaches may actually pass the domestic member of their franchise in the lobby of the hotel without even recognising the player. Still, nothing will be said about them. The Indian coaches are the ones who have seen domestic cricket and are, therefore, well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of India’s domestic players.

Not too long ago, another former Mumbai player, Sulakshan Kulkarni, came in for criticism following his comments after Tamil Nadu’s loss in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Mumbai. Once the match was over, when asked by the media, he commented that Tamil Nadu lost the match when the decision to bat first was taken instead of fielding, despite earlier being decided by the think tank to field first. Some of Tamil Nadu’s former players and Test stalwarts went up in arms against that statement, totally forgetting that it was made after the match was over.

Many times there are turning points in a match, and in this game, taking the wrong decision to bat first after winning the toss was the biggest turning point. One could argue that this could have been conveyed to the association in the confidential report given at the end of the tournament. But if the coach is asked by the media and he has given his frank assessment, then that should be taken on board rather than trying to stamp on him as being an outsider. To suggest that he thought like a Mumbaikar and spoke like a Mumbaikar is completely missing the point that Mumbai have won the Ranji Trophy almost more times than the rest of the states put together.

Tamil Nadu, despite producing some of the most brilliant cricketers for India, have won the Ranji Trophy only twice, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of thinking like Mumbaikars may help them win it more often. Don’t forget that this season Tamil Nadu qualified for the knockouts after six years, and they almost put it across Mumbai in that semifinal. Mumbai cricketers may not have fancy degrees in education, but over the years, they have shown cricketing intelligence and commonsense, which often make the difference between winning and losing.

How one longs for the day when Indians will support Indian cricketers and those in the cricketing ecosystem, like the Australians, South Africans, and English cricketers, support each other.

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