Young players not saddened by CT disaster: BCCI official

Young players not saddened by CT disaster: BCCI official

Ratnakar Shetty

"One of the senior players called up after the Champions Trophy (where Indian were knocked out in preliminary stage in South Africa) and said other players (youngsters) did not feel it (the loss as much as him). He said there was no feeling whether we win or not. There is no sadness (after losing)," said Shetty at a talk show here.

India lost their opening group match against arch rivals Pakistan before their second match against Australia got washed out due to rains. They won the inconsequential last league match against the West Indies and made their exit.

Shetty, who did not reveal the name of the senior cricketer, indicated this trend was not good and needs to be looked into by the apex body for the sport in the country.

"These are the things we (BCCI) need to look at," he said at the Legends Club meeting to celebrate the anniversary of former Test opener and ex-chief selector, the late Vijay Merchant, at the Cricket Club of India last evening. Shetty conceded that the amount of money the younger lot of cricketers is able to make these days through events like the Indian Premier League has made them lose focus from the game.

"You can see the change in attitude and focus which seems to have gone to things other than cricket. They are attracted by the different (Bollywood) style of entertainment that is part of these events. This is worrisome," he said.

"Some of these youngsters have become very big. Some of them are feeling playing in Ranji Trophy is not as important as playing in the IPL. BCCI will have to see that they can handle these things," Shetty added.

The BCCI functionary was echoing former skipper Sunil Gavaskar's views a few months ago that young Indian cricketers were not too concerned about wearing the India cap and seemed happy to play Twenty20 cricket. However, the seasoned administrator felt that all three formats of the game could co-exist and there does not seem to be an immediate threat to Test cricket.

"I feel all these formats can co-exist if we can manage proper balance. But we have to attract the crowds for Test cricket. The staging associations need to find out ways and should not be concerned over some gate-money loss. They are all getting TV subsidies worth 10-15 crores whether they stage matches or not," he said.

He also gave a thumbs up to Sachin Tendulkar's suggestion of throwing open the gates to students at least on weekends of Test cricket.

"No less a player than Sachin Tendulkar has suggested that some stands be set aside for free entry to the school and college students. It should be a given a serious thought. We need to introduce younger generation to Test cricket," he said.

Meawhile, for former captain Nari Contractor, Test cricket remains and will forever stand as the pinnacle of the game. The quality of a cricketer will not be known by 20-20 or 50-50 games but through Test cricket only. But to attract people they can try out day/night Tests or play four-day Tests. But all three formats can co-exist, he suggested.
The former India opener also felt that the restriction of bouncers in Test cricket was taking away the charm of seeing players either hooking the bumpers or ducking or swaying out of harms way.

"I'm not suggesting you bring back my playing days when there was no restriction on the bouncers or even the beamers bowled at us. But the restriction of one or two bouncers per over should go. Its great to see batsmen hooking them or swaying out of its path. Is there restriction on the number of googlies a leg spinner can bowl," he pointed out.

Singing a slightly different tune, senior sports scribe Ayaz Memon felt that there's no way all three formats can co-exist for long and one of the shorter formats of the game needs to be shelved while massive efforts are needed to keep Test cricket alive.

"Test cricket's current format needs to be given a thought to. Nowadays youngsters want things to get over between two and three hours. A massive effort is needed to keep Test cricket alive, but I do not know what it can be. I feel all three formats cannot co-exist and very soon we have to take a call between 50-over games and T20 games," he said.

He pointed out that the advertisement and sponsorship pie was limited and cannot sustain both these shorter formats of the game in the longer term.

Former Mumbai captain Milind Rege acted as the mediator.

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