Is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on a collision course with the Indian Premier League franchises regarding the management of the workload of targeted Indian players for the 2023 World Cup?
At the end of a review meeting on Sunday, the BCCI officially announced for the first time that the National Cricket Academy (NCA) will work with the IPL franchises to oversee the pool of 20 players who will qualify for the 50 – about World Cup which is less than 10 months away.
For the record, Cricket Australia and England and Wales Cricket Board have similar agreements with players appearing in the IPL and the franchises abide by them.
In the past few seasons where T20 World Cups have been held in successive years, the BCCI was rumored to be monitoring the workload of players in the IPL. While franchises denied the BCCI and NCA teams the right to directly manage the players, they shared reports from time to time.
But for the first time, the BCCI has made it official that it would “monitor the targeted Indian players participating in the IPL 2023”. However, the words from the press release quoted above did not fully clarify whether performance is monitored or workload.
When asked about its broad outline, a senior BCCI official declined to go into details.
When it comes to work pressure, it is interesting to see how the BCCI deals with this. While CA and ECB ask the franchises to share data with them on a regular basis, some of their fast bowlers and all-rounders even come into the IPL with a cap on the number of overs they can deliver during their stint and it includes both the net session and the contest. It is included when these member boards hand their players NOCs, which is mandatory for their participation.
Whether a similar system could work in relation to the Indian players is a big question, as in the past franchises have not welcomed the idea of BCCI monitoring the workload of the players. During the 2020 IPL in UAE, just hours after then BCCI President Sourav Ganguly revealed that Rohit Sharma has a hamstring injury and was ineligible for the Australia tour, the opener took the field for Mumbai Indians against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Franchises are not open to data sharing
And according to reliable sources in the know, there have been instances in the past where at least a few major franchises have refused to share data with the NCA. And if you assume that the NCA will indeed monitor the workload, it will be interesting to see how they approach that.
“The BCCI cannot ask the franchises to rest a player for an IPL game. Of course they can monitor the workload and ask for data sharing, but they can’t set a limit and say a given player can only play X number of matches or bowl only X number of overs,” said a franchise official.
While the key recommendations look good on paper, only time will tell how far the BCCI will be able to push the franchises. Technically, during the tournament window, the players have a contract with the franchises and not the BCCI and unlike CA and ECB, this reality will prohibit the BCCI from passing dictates regarding workload management. So there are some loose ends that the BCCI needs to tie up if this program is to work, which is undoubtedly in the best interest of Indian cricket.
Leading up to last year’s T20 World Cup, India’s key players were rested or asked for a break at various stages. It meant that until the Asia Cup in September, the team management didn’t get a chance to take the field with the regulars and entered the T20 World Cup as outsiders exiting the semi-finals.
That none of the players asked for a rest or a break during the IPL became a point of contention with former India captain Sunil Gavaskar questioning their decision to skip national commitments.
With the 50-over World Cup taking precedence and India still a long way from assembling a unit that will live up to expectations on home soil, the BCCI has set in motion a roadmap for next year. In a season packed with a lengthy IPL, closely followed by the all-important World Cup domestically, the board and franchises will need to be on the same wavelength when it comes to retaining players if India is to repeat the 2011 performance.