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Ranji Trophy vs IPL: Which way do selectors sway?

1 month ago 29



CHENNAI: It wasn’t too long ago that the Indian cricket board (

BCCI

) cracked the whip and did not give central contracts to

Shreyas Iyer

and

Ishan Kishan

for not playing the Ranji Trophy. This has become a point of debate in Indian cricket even as the

Ranji Trophy

semi finals have got under way.
Iyer is, of course, playing the semi final featuring Mumbai, but the question that keeps swirling around is whether it is truly worth playing Ranji Trophy and putting it ahead of IPL preparations.

The common perception is that it’s the IPL performance that is the marker for entry into Indian teams across formats. It is the tournament that brings all the limelight and when the selectors sit down to choose their teams, the performances in the T20 showpiece event take precedence over Ranji Trophy.

But former India opener Devang Gandhi, who was part of the Indian senior selection committee till 2020, vehemently opposes this viewpoint. “Many cite Jasprit Bumrah’s example and say that he got fast-tracked into Test cricket on the basis of his performances in the IPL. But I can tell you, I personally went to Hubli to watch a match between Mumbai and Gujarat where he bowled 30 overs.
“We figured out whether he had it in him to bowl for long periods before deciding to take him,” Gandhi told

TOI.
His argument is that Ranji Trophy performances have always been prioritized when a Test team has been selected. “Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj, all the guys who came during our tenure played enough red-ball cricket before getting picked up for the Indian team,” the former opener said.
But there was the case of

Ajinkya Rahane

last year when he was selected for the Indian team for the World Test Championship final after he had a great IPL. But Gandhi felt that even that decision was not just about the IPL performances but about the known fact that Rahane is a tried-and-tested player who had done well in England before.
“There was an opening because Iyer was injured and Rahane got in. Yes, he was in good nick during IPL that might have helped him, but that wasn’t the clinching criteria,” Gandhi said.
Even Rajasthan Royals star Dhruv Jurel, who got his chance in the last couple of Tests and played a match-winning hand in Ranchi, has a first-class average of 50.78. Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan and Akash Deep, the three other debutants in the series, are all proven performers in the Ranji Trophy.
R Ashwin’s former coach and a domestic stalwart himself, Sunil Subramaniam, feels IPL is a marker of a player’s temperament on the big stage.
“There is a perception that Ashwin got selected in the Indian Test team in 2011 on the basis of his performances for CSK. But the truth is he already had 100 first-class wickets before that. The Champions Trophy final, where he had to bowl the Super Over to win CSK the event, only proved that he had the temperament for the big stage. It was just the icing on the cake, not the cake itself,” Subramaniam said.
But the veteran coach, who now works with budding cricketers, feels there is a problem in the system. “It is the pay disparity between IPL and domestic cricket that is glaring. I work with youngsters and I can tell you, most of the kids only want to play IPL. They are just not bothered about red-ball cricket,” Subramaniam said, adding that the recent BCCI diktat has “come a little too late”.
“I don’t see top players playing Ranji Trophy whenever they get a break from international cricket. I know there is a workload issue for pace bowlers, but it should start with the top players if there has to be a systemic change. And I mean the very top,” Subramaniam said.

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