The Club vs Country debate, rekindled

Updated: 18 October 2012 12:14 IST

Cricket Australia has decided to rest Shane Watson keeping in mind the Test series coming up against the Proteas. It makes one wonder if BCCI would ever have the guts or the gumption to rest MSD while he was on an assignment with the Chennai Super Kings!

The Club vs Country debate, rekindled
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Cricket Australia has decided to rest Shane Watson keeping in mind the Test series coming up against the Proteas. It makes one wonder if BCCI would ever have the guts or the gumption to rest MSD while he was on an assignment with the Chennai Super Kings!

Would I be wrong if I said that Cricket Australia embodies professionalism while the BCCI courts controversy when one looks back at what has transpired in the last few months with regard to selections, the IPL and insinuations of varied kinds?

Cricket, to a large number of us, assumes fervour akin to a religious zeal. Jaundiced at times but opinions and views of the aam janta typically have a lot of native wisdom in it. It would therefore be worth considering the opinions that are being bandied around. The debacle that was the recent T20 world cup can be summed up by the statement by someone in the team (I refuse to even tax my brains anymore on the identity of the person) who said that "we lost only one match and we are out of the World Cup". Can that someone be told that the match they lost to Australia was because a certain Shane Watson whom the management is now cotton wooling, pulverised the Indians and took the match away making us look like a school team?

One could argue that the Indian team was coming back after some time off from the game and fairly fresh so as to speak but to the question if the Indian management would force a rest onto any of their stars while playing for the country and would any of the stars willingly accept one, the answer to that is probably a yes! However if one were to look at a situation akin to Shane Watson's, would the BCCI and the players themselves willingly pull out playing for their franchise? To that I would say, "I am not entirely sure".

Though I am not suggesting that any of the Indian players are lesser patriotic than us the common cricket fan but circumstances that prevail with sponsorships and the big bucks, there is a lurking suspicion with a fair amount of certainty that the situation does not lend itself for the BCCI leave alone the player himself to take such a call. Lucrative contracts, owners and at times the singular lack of self belief would make the strongest of players to baulk at the thought of missing out a match. After all, Sehwag, after injuring himself and leaving the ground on celebrating the fall of a wicket while playing for India in the T20 World Cup, made a quick and miraculous recovery and was promptly found playing for the Daredevils in South Africa.

Lack of match fitness was evident amongst many players. Zaheer, Sehwag, Balaji and Harbhajan to name a few, looked in the urgent need of being whipped back into shape. Yuvraj could be excused for looking and being totally out of shape for obvious reasons but he did make up for all that with glimpses of his old belligerent self. How is it that the BCCI cannot enforce strict fitness standards for these players and "rest" these players till they prove their fitness? Surely the threat of not being allowed to play for their franchise would deter them from falling to this state of physical distress.

Shane Watson and Cricket Australia may have the interests of Australian cricket foremost in their mind but I can state with certainty that it is time that BCCI also looked at the physical state or the lack of it in some of the Indian players. The players themselves need to adopt a more responsible attitude towards fitness, before the growing belief that franchise comes before country, grows roots amongst us the fans and the IPL becomes another NBA.

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