IPL over India’s pride? Questions on BCCI’s priorities before 2023 ICC World Cup

India has the richest cricket board (BCCI), a team full of superstars, the world’s best league (IPL) and a plethora of talent. But despite all this, the country hasn’t been able to win an ICC trophy for the last nine years, which raises questions about our priorities.

The already-rich BCCI added some big money with the addition of two new IPL teams (Rs 12,715 crore) and media rights sale (Rs 48,390 crore) in 2022, which was lauded by the well-wishers of Indian cricket. It’s because the earned money is eventually divided among the stakeholders and reaches every deserving individual of the Indian cricket ecosystem.

Apart from the earnings for the BCCI, 2022 was an eventful year for Indian cricket for other reasons as well. The removal of Virat Kohli as captain, arrival of Rohit Sharma as new skipper and coach Rahul Dravid, and Sourav’s Ganguly ouster as BCCI President were the other big events which created ripples in the circuit.

However, it was the disappointments at the Asia Cup and the ICC T20 World Cup, which hurt the fans most. The Indian cricket fans had high hopes from skipper Rohit and coach Dravid because of their past records. While Rohit had won five IPL titles and one Asia Cup, Dravid, under his coaching, had led the U-19 India team to World Cup victory and was nurturing the budding talents with India-A sides.

There was talk of showcasing attacking cricket, which they played till the bilateral series. But come the T20 World Cup, they looked timid in their approach and India suffered a humiliating 10-wicket loss against eventual winners England in the semi-final.

After the World Cup debacle, there were murmurs of taking some bold steps for improvement, but nothing has happened till now. Not only the ICC events, India have now lost back-to-back ODI series against New Zealand and Bangladesh, which raises some serious questions about the future.

Is international men’s cricket on the priority list of the BCCI and stakeholders of Indian cricket, or are they just happy with IPL’s commercial success?

Of course, there are no clear-cut answers. One can argue that the BCCI is providing all the best possible facilities to the players, hiring the best professionals from the world, so what else can they do as it’s up to the coaches and players to produce results.

But, nothing stops the Indian cricket board from having a review of the Men in Blue’s performance and finding the root cause of the team’s failure at ICC events. If there is an issue, which certainly is, then the BCCI needs to find a solution and take some bold calls.

After their disappointing group-stage exit in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, England took some bold decisions, adopted an aggressive approach to the game and are now the champions of both the 50-over and T20 World Cups. Likewise, the BCCI also needs to focus on Indian’s men’s cricket.

Well, everyone knows that these things are not easy in Indian cricket, where players are demigods. But, someday, somebody will have to make the decision. There has to be some accountability, otherwise, Indian cricket will continue to suffer, especially at ICC events.

Questions also need to be asked from the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as Indian cricket is suffering from many recurring injuries. There are many examples in recent times, when a player gets injured, goes to the NCA for rehab, gets fit, makes a comeback and breaks down after just two three-matches.

The last three 50-over World Cups have been won by the hosts (India — 2011, Australia — 2015 and England — 2019) and India are hosting the mega event next year. It will be a real shame if we don’t do well in the knockouts in our own conditions. Eventually, it all boils down to the priority of the board, coaching staff and players.

As of now, things — injuries to key players, selection dilemmas, lack of vision and clarity — are not looking great for Indian cricket and it needs some course correction as time is running out. So, Indian cricket needs to wake up, focus on international cricket and fill those gaps before it becomes too late and embarrassing.

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