Even before the euphoria of an outstanding cricket season dies down, Indian Premier League fever has started gripping the nation. However, the scenario is not the same for the pipeline that supplies the fuel to the biggest and cricket event of the world. Yes. The franchisee are concerned about several star players availability for IPL Season Ten.
It’s not just Virat Kohli, who sat out of the Dharamsala Test with a strained shoulder. There are other big names as well, who in all likelihood will be required to address their injury concerns before rushing in to take the field for IPL. The IPL franchisees are a worried lot.
The franchisees are not at all happy about the present scenario. “Who are the losers. Only us. The franchisees. BCCI has made their moneys. Players can be protected. We are corporate here. For us, it’s not about passion or emotions. Our game is decided on balance sheets. The games BCCI is indulging in is not good for our balance sheets,” said a franchisee source seeking anonymity. “BCCI compensating the players for preferring rest over IPL duties, is sort of an incentive for these stars to stay away from their IPL commitments. A top stars absence upsets plans and economics of the franchisees. Is there any compensation for us. It’s not easy to run league teams under the present economic scenario.”
“BCCI is the patron of the league. But, on commercial front we get our biggest competition from the board. Imagine, it’s been 10 years of investment and teams have not been able to break even. Board needs to understand it’s not going to work this way,” added another team official. “No matter how big stars from other teams you get. They may guarantee you success. But, revenue revolves around Indians. That is the bottom line.”
It is confirmed that Kohli will not be able to join the Royal Challengers Bangalore for at least first four weeks of IPL 2017. They are scheduled to play nine games during this period. The team is also worried about their rising super star KL Rahul. For the last year’s runner-up, this is certainly not an easy task to start their campaign without their two most impactful players. On the other hand , the Pune camp is worried that by the time their players join their ranks, it might be too late to repair the damages their absence would cause.
Ravichandran Ashwin of Rising Pune Supergiant, Murali Vijay from Kings XI Punjab, Umesh Yadav of Kolkata Knight Riders and Ravindra Jadeja for Gujarat Lions too remain doubtful starters. These big guns may miss the initial half of the league, only to return later, which shall be less help for their teams and more to the players in run up to the ICC Champions Trophy in England scheduled to be played in June.
In an extremely competitive sphere the decision are based on professional analysis. There is no room for emotions. A hectic season running through the year starts for the Team India immediately after the IPL 2017.
Kohli and Company, in addition to the rigours of the ICC Champions Trophy in England have to play three Tests in England, travel to Sri Lanka between July and September for 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and two T-20 games, Australia return to India in October for 5 ODIs and one T-20 games, and then comes the 4 Test, 5 ODI and 2 T-20 challenge in South Africa.
Players fitness and availability for this busy schedule remains top priority for the team management. Team physio Patrick Farhart will submitting his recommendations to the board, which has already made it clear that it will be up to the players whether to play IPL or take rest. The BCCI has already set a precedent last year by compensating Mohd Shami for loss of revenue as he had to miss the IPL due to injury.
These guys have taken tremendous workload between the two seasons of IPL (2016-2017). Ashwin has played in India’s all 17 Tests since June 2016, besides three ODIs and two T-20 games. That comes to approximately 90 days of international, on an average you are playing for India every fourth day – travel, training and other first class games not included. Kohli in this period had missed only the Dharamsala Test, but played 8 ODIs and 5 T-20s.
Murali Vijay has figured in 14 Test matches and Yadav in 14 Tests, bowling 404.5 overs to take 35 wickets, and six one-dayers. Ashwin had complained of suffering from sports hernia at the end of the England series. Despite that, he managed to stretch himself and bowl 284.2 overs in five Tests for 27 wickets in the last month and a half. In the last nine months, Ashwin has, in all, sent down 869.2 overs and taken 99 wickets.
With board fully addressing their concerns, monetary included, players prefer to return fresh for their Champions Trophy title defence, rather than risking an injury during the 47-day grueling IPL.
Murali’s Kings XI and Jadeja’s Gujarat Lions haven’t even been able to sell their title sponsorships. The absence of these icons will further dent their bargaining power. The franchisees are not going to accept these losses hands down. The situation now threatens to widen the rift between BCCI and the team owners, who are now at the receiving end of too much cricket.