Last year, the Indian team was garnering laurels after beating Australia in the historic Gabba Test.
But, after just a year, the players who were a part of that team have either vanished or are no longer remembered.
Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja are almost nearing recovery but have still not reached full potential and have thus not been selected for the West Indies home series.
Some good news for Team India is that Washington Sundar will be returning to the team after many months. But, T. Natarajan has completely disappeared from the team’s radar.
Only Shardul Thakur and Rishabh Pant have gone on to cement their places in the team after the Gabba win.
Ajinkya Rahane is slowly slipping away into oblivion and his career is in shambles.
So, in this situation, players need some off-time and also need to practice away from the limelight. They sort of needing a refuge where they can build back their lost spark.
Money talks and talks big
That refuge was being provided by Ranji Trophy where players used to rehone their skills. They put long hours in the middle, the ball came onto the bat nicely and they got to work things out.
But the current COVID scenario is slowly taking away that luxury and TV channels are no longer showing much interest in airing domestic cricket. They want to earn big bucks and that’s why they dictate the rules.
Pandya along with Ravindra Jadeja tormented the Aussies in their own home and that’s why India was able to win matches in Australia.
But now both of them are somewhat losing their place and the spots have been given to Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar who have proved themselves as bowling all-rounders in recent times.
T Natarajan just last year was drafted into the Indian side after his stupendous performances in the IPL. He had thrown 71 deadly yorkers two seasons ago in the IPL and thus got catapulted into the Indian squad in all three formats.
But after sustaining a knee injury when he came back from the Australian tour, the BCCI and the Indian team completely forgot all about him.
Thus, his future now seems to be in the doldrums.
If the team had chosen Natarajan after his recovery, he would’ve formed a lethal left-right combination with Jasprit Bumrah and they would’ve deflated any opposition by firing deadly yorkers from both ends.
So, in the long-term interests of Indian cricket, a proper balance and combination have to be figured out soon. Rahul Dravid was quite disappointed with the way the bowlers couldn’t take wickets in the South Africa series and how Indian batters failed against spinners during the Sri Lanka tour last year.
The youngsters need to learn how to stay on for longer periods in the middle. And domestic cricket is that platform where they will learn this skill in a proper, old-fashioned method.
England’s failure in the Ashes
After England’s worst-ever performance in last year’s Ashes, India needs to make some tough calls and bring in youngsters in the Test team so that they do not glide down the same path as England.
And before England, West Indies was the first team that got bitterly trounced after seeing the highs in Test cricket in the 70s and 80s under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd.
When the IPL will begin, all these players will move into their respective franchise camps after playing their international games.
Thus, IPL is slowly taking away domestic cricket by storm.
Will domestic cricket be doomed in the future?
Thus, the question that we now have to answer is will all this white-ball cricket be really helpful for India in the future?
If we look at the recent matches, then it’s a clear indication that it’s not. All these youngsters with big IPL contracts but only a few Ranji matches will not be able to serve us properly going forward.
The BCCI in a recent step has decided to put Ranji Trophy matches in two phases.
The first phase will be played in February-March while the knock-out stages will be played in June.
Although June is not an appropriate time for cricket in India, the first-class cricketers who have been devoid of playing domestic cricket for two years will be able to get some match-time during these months.
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