One of the contentious side issues that erupted as India’s tour of Australia drew to a close was the question of the Indian captain suggesting the idea that some of India’s frontline bowlers might be rested ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. However, some of the franchises as well as fans are asking, why shouldn’t Virat Kohli, India’s premier batsman, not be rested himself?
On the tour of Australia, there was a contention that some of India’s premier bowlers, namely, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, should have the option of being rested for the Indian Premier League with an eye on the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 which commences shortly after the conclusion of the cash rich Twenty20 tournament. The idea being propagated was by none other than the Indian captain who was obviously keeping his eye on his resources to ensure India’s best chances come England.
However, closer to home, as the IPL comes into prominence even before the ICC Cricket World Cup, there are no rumblings that not all of the franchisees have been quite as accommodating of the Indian skipper’s ideas even if it is ultimately in India’s interests. Furthermore, with money on the line with the ownership a different landscape as compared to representing the country, there are questions whether any franchisee, who has bought the players at a considerable price, would be willing to compromise on their own chances of lifting up the trophy which could be their greatest advertisement at the end of the day to make business sense.
There is, however, another angle that is both, commercial as well as practical. For one, while some franchises have questioned the logic of resting bowlers who bowl for four overs, even though the IPL is generally a lengthy affair that involves matches and travelling on the go, they are simultaneously suggesting that perhaps the skipper take a dose of his own medicine and rest premier batsmen including himself by not playing the IPL and thereby, even the odds, which could, also, work in the interests of Indian cricket going into the ICC Cricket World Cup.
While the onus ultimately lies in the hands of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) who is unwilling to forgo the tournament for even a year given the commercial ramifications of such a move, there is, also, the thinking that it is better for players, particularly for the bowlers to keep up their rhythms and their body maintenance and let them keep playing, a logic that could well be applied to batsmen as well who could use the match practice although playing the Twenty20 format is not sufficient enough to prepare them for the more elaborate fifty overs version that involved patience and platform building for a significantly longer length of them.
Perhaps a more practical solution is to find some middle ground where all Indian cricketers that would make up the World Cup squad be restricted to a certain number of matches with the provision in the event that the team they represent does get to the business end of the tournament, some additional rules will have to be established well in advance about franchisees relying on their bankable commodities that are the players.