Flash, he'll save everyone of us...
That was theme of the movie Flash Gordon immortalized by The Queen, in Freddie Mercury's famous voice. Four years ago when the then Noah of cricket conceptualized IPL, that was the song BCCI was singing (Flash became Lalit).
Flash Gordon (Lalit Modi) saved the cricket world from the Ajax (ICL) launched by the rouge Gen. Kala (Subash Chandra). And then, we know the history as it happened. They banned ICL, players, venues and what not. Then came an amnesty scheme, the Flash Gordon tried forming an inclusive world.
They cried this is the final chance for the rebels to get to the mainstream. Many of us clapped our hands and cheered saying, Oh how many young lives BCCI is saving or reviving.
It was touted that the guys who came back from ICL would be rehabilitated. The worst affected team because of ICL, Hyderabad still remains one of the worst teams in the Ranji circuit. So where did all those players who went to ICL go? Alfred Absolom who was a success story in ICL is nowhere in the Ranji map.
Yes, we have the odd Rayadu, Satish & Mohnish Mishra. And yes even Sriram had his day but where are the other 100 odd guys who signed up for ICL. Remember, the players from India were the ones who pulled the average age of the tournament down.
They were the youngsters who had enormous talent but limited opportunities. Hyderabad, which moved en masse, thanks to this one family or rather a father and his son. So where are these guys gone as far as the lucrative IPL goes? Why aren't they rubbing shoulders with the international cricketers?
A quick look at the IPL website you count 15 ICL players representing the various teams here. That is 15 per cent of the Indian talent from ICL, so where is the other 85 per cent? Also in the IPL squads are these quota players.
Udit Patel in the RCB, Arjun Yadav & Jaydev Shah in DC, thanks to some good show Anirudha Srikanth misses the cut. Does it mean that they couldn't find 3 more deserving players from the ICL crop or leave alone ICL, from the Ranji crop?
For a moment let us assume IPL recruits another bunch of talented youngsters, be it from the ICL crop or outside it. Would they be given an opportunity in the league?
When I say opportunities it is not just an opportunity to share space with a Tendulkar, Warne or Gayle. That even a rich businessman winning an auction for memorabilia can do. It is about playing with them, in match situations and learning from them, watching them and experiencing. How many of the youngsters in IPL get that chance? How consistently does one get that opportunity?
For one, the structure of the playing 11 in IPL doesn't allow the so called "nurturing of local talent". Let's take a look at the playing XI of Chennai Superkings & Bangalore Royal Challengers, the top 2 teams this year.
In the CSK XI, except Jakati everyone else has had some experience in the international stage. The talented spinner he is, unfortunately is from Goa a wooden spoon team. He broke into the Ranji scene during 1998/99 season. Thanks to the consistency of his team he has only played 52 Ranji matches till date.
In those 52 matches, he has a first class 100 and 7 five wicket & 2 ten wicket hauls at 32.99. So you don't need a reality show or a talent hunt to zero in on him. All you need is to speak to his Ranji coach and also to the coaches & players of the other South Indian teams who play frequently with him (once or twice an year!!)
Let us take a look at RCB now. The first player in our list is Sreenath Aravind. He has been a very successful left arm fast bowler for RCB this season. He is no youngster in cricketing terms, he is 27 years old. He made his debut in the Ranji scene in 2008, so it took a further 3 good seasons for him to get noticed. The irony is the talent he is proving to be, he has only played 20 Ranji matches in all 3 seasons. So what talent nurturing are we talking about here?
The next one in our list is Mayank Agarwal. This young man was part of the India U-19 team that toured Australia in 2009 and a consistent scorer in the Cooch Behar trophy in the 2008/09 season. You can probably give it to IPL for getting his guy on to the field.
So in essence what do we have?
1 in 22 players on the field? And we say we nurture talent?
The reality is, we are more worried about our TV ratings, the maximums, kamaal catches, timeouts and other properties we could sell. When young cricketers slog their backside and win something, there are elected representatives who claim they won it.
So what do we have here ?
At one side the administrators are worried about the money coming into their coffers and on the other side you have the same administrators waiting to bask in the glory (at the expense of the players and the great game itself), meeting TV cameras or tweeting about their exploits (that is the latest trend). So what is there for the players? A couple of thousand dollars for being part of this circus.
Cricket has from being a gentleman's game become a two month circus that happens every year. The ringmaster decides the rule of the game and the ponies dance without question (you question, get a $50,000 fine).
In the next episode let us look at how many players IPL has unearthed in the last four years and where these players are today.