The legacy of the IPL still shrouds the game

The Indian Premier League is over, but the discussion about it is still going on despite there being a Tri-Series between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and Test series between Australia and the West Indies and between England and New Zealand.

Somehow, the talk veers around to the IPL and what Dhoni could have done or what Shane Warne did and where this team went wrong and where that team could have done better. It's a hangover which is not an ache, but a pleasant feeling.

The hangover can also be seen on the pitch where India's batsmen went berserk as if they were playing a Twenty20 match and notched up a 300-plus total with ease against Pakistan. Sehwag, coming back in the playing eleven after Tendulkar pulled out was the one to benefit.

He has got such a repertoire of audacious shots that the 20 overs game seems too short for him to exhibit them all. He also falls in the 50-over format trying to score too many too soon. Once he gets the balance right, he can swing the game in his side's favour and he did that along with his trusted partner, Gautam Gambhir, who is going from strength to strength. Gambhir's consistency means that those following him are under little or no pressure at all.

If Pakistan find a way to stop the Indian openers in the final, it will be a feather in the cap of their coach, Geoff Lawson, who is finding out that it is not easy to coach in the Sub-continent. He has not helped his cause by giving interviews to Australian papers, who have only one way to look at things in the Sub-continent, and that is in a derisive manner. Unless, of course, there is money to be made when suddenly all the so called faults of the region are forgotten.

To be fair, the answers also depend on the line of questioning, but here again, the replies are given for the readership of the paper forgetting that in today's internet age, the comments can be seen in a jiffy anywhere in the world. The papers are also interested in protecting the coach and will ask queries which gives him the chance to shift the blame somewhere else – some typical perceived faults of the Sub-continent. The stereotype has to continue even if it means the truth be damned.

Why, even if it's a news item about the entertainment industry, the reference has to be to the Sub-continent. Not too long ago, the Australian troops in Iraq were entertained by an Australian group and in a secret report which was somehow leaked to the media, one artiste was reported to have had a fun time with the troops.

Now that is all okay, but to refer to that artiste as a Bollywood star was taking it to an extreme. Yes, maybe the artiste had a bit part in a movie and was what the Indian film industry used to call an 'extra' or the more correct political term now – a junior artiste. But the nationality was Australian and the person was more known for appearing on Australian TV rather than Indian movies. So why refer to that person as from Bollywood, unless it is to try and belittle the Indian film industry.

What the DLF IPL did was to debunk some myths and the biggest of them all was about the infallibility of the Australian coaches. Shane Warne has gone on record, a record number of times that coaches are not needed at the international level and maybe, that is the reason he was so keen to lead from the front and show that his team could win without a coach. His team was without any superstars, apart from himself, and also had been the least expensive of the franchises. So, they were not taken seriously at the start of the tournament where the focus was on the expensive teams and the big name players.

Warne had also said pointedly at media conferences that his team uses brains and not computers in an obvious reference to the coach who made the use of the laptop his USP. None of the Australian coaches, or the highly-paid consultants and advisors, could do anything to help their teams, once again emphasising that in a Twenty20 game, tactics are of little use.

One consultant, who had a cushy contract which let him fly in and out of India between matches, came down for the semi-finals and after the game, when his team was mourning, was having a laugh and a drink with officials from his country, probably telling them what suckers he had made out of the franchise owners with his deal of flying in and out for a few days for his 'consultancy'.

What teams need above all else is a good fielding unit – for every run saved is a run scored – and top fitness so that even in the final overs a batsman can run twos and threes and still have the strength to hit the last ball over the ropes. A top fielding coach and a great fitness trainer is all that is needed, and also a manager who will not be afraid to wield the stick as far as team discipline is concerned. Not only will this trim the squad, but also ensure that there is no confusion about job responsibility and make for a far more efficient working environment for all.

The ball is now in the franchise owner's court.

 

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