What delicious irony: India must now pick between the Indian Premier League — the very thing that supposedly highlighted all of India’s post-1991 achievements — and doing even remotely well in the Twenty20 World Cup. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Pakistanis, who haven’t played in the last two IPL seasons, have done extraordinarily well in the tournaments.
I don’t think it’s a question of handling the schedule; as Dhoni regularly notes, Indians play a lot of cricket. Sometimes, players complain about about the workload; other times, they complain when they’re not playing enough. Bunch of divas, these modern athletes. But there is a problem of the mind, if coach Gary Kirsten is to be believed. You know how in sports press conferences, the losing players will always say the other side “wanted” it more? I always thought that sounded stupid, but I think, at least in this instance, it makes sense.
The Indian players enjoy a whole bunch of easy in the IPL; they get used to lounging around on Indian pitches against sub-par Indian bowlers, knowing fully well that the end result won’t matter (they’re getting paid nonetheless). Think back to the Indian team that won in 2007 — most of the players are still around in 2010, but something happened in those three years that has changed them. They were losers then, completely rated off by selectors and the Indian public (who didn’t care one bit about T20); then, they were winners. All too briefly, I’m afraid.