Making a strong pitch for a window for the Indian Premier League, Rahul Dravid has said such an eventuality would ensure that the best players would be available to play Test cricket for their countries.
Dravid is in London for the MCC's Cricket Committee meetings, and spoke to the BBC's Test Match Special on Thursday, August 16, the first day of the third Test between England and South Africa at Lord's. "The reality is the IPL is an important tournament and people do want to play it. And we are probably coming to a stage where maybe a time will come when there will need to be give-and-take, whether it is finding a window, or whether making the tournament a little shorter."
England are without Kevin Pietersen for the third Test, which will decide whether they retain the No. 1 Test ranking or cede it to South Africa. Pietersen's fallout with the England and Wales Cricket Board as well as his English team-mates has been attributed in many quarters to his attraction to the IPL after he said a few months back that England were jealous of the IPL.
Dravid said Test cricket could ill afford to make do without the services of Pietersen and Chris Gayle, who only returned to the West Indies team a couple of months back after 15 months in the international wilderness following disagreements with the West Indies Cricket Board.
"I would love to be in a situation where the best players can play the IPL as well as represent their country in Test cricket," Dravid said. "People like Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen are fantastic for Test cricket as they are for IPL and T20 cricket. And they have a short window in which to show us their talent. At the end of the day, this is the game for the fans. The best players should represent their country, it is not only about the people who come to the ground. It is also for the young boys and girls who passionately follow their country in Test cricket. It is hard and disappointing when the best players don't turn up to play for their country."
Dravid, who has retired from international and first-class cricket but hasn't yet ruled out playing in IPL VI for Rajasthan Royals, said since the IPL clashed with the start of the English season, it was important for cricket's bosses to come together and find an amicable solution. "There are some positives with the IPL and you have to understand that if the top players in the world want to play it and people want to watch, then there is got to be some thing good about it is as well," Dravid said. "It does affect the England season particularly, especially since traditionally the English season has been the same for many, many years. So it is challenging that a little bit.
"In time, we are getting to that stage where all of us want the best players playing (Test cricket). We all want Chris Gayle playing for West Indies whenever West Indies play a Test match. None of us wants to see a situation today where a great player like Kevin misses out for whatever reasons and I don't want to get into that. But it is disappointing. The game is a loser when the top players don't play Test cricket."