Both India and West Indies have problems that need to be solved

Both India and West Indies have problems that need to be solved

Partab Ramchand Updated: 12 December, 2019, 3:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

On the eve of the three-match T-20 international series between India and West Indies I had predicted a close contest despite the head to head record (8 to 5 in India’s favour) and the ICC ranking which have India at No 5 and West Indies at No 10. The format being what it is with any team capable of beating any other team, with there being hardly any room for error and with only the performance on the day really mattering it was highly likely that it would go to a decider with India’s home advantage being nullified by the fact that many West Indian cricketers had played in the IPL. Also West Indians are a natural for T-20 cricket with several of their leading stars regularly parading their wares in the various leagues all around the world.

The two teams dished out a riveting contest that did go all the way to the wire. But even as they use these contests to prepare for the T-20 World Cup to be held in Australia in about ten months time there are weaknesses that both teams will have to take care of. West Indies are badly lacking in bowling firepower and the manner in which they conceded over 20 runs an over so many times will no doubt be a cause for alarm. Add to this the waywardness in sending down wides and no balls – the latter unforgivable in this format – does not augur well for them. The fact that in two of the games India scored over 200 underlines the sorry tale of the West Indian bowling and they could do with a bit of an overhaul in this department if they want to harbour any hopes of retaining the title and inscribing their names on the trophy for a third time.

For India the problem is the fielding and catching. In the ultimate analysis they lost the second game by shoddy work in this department. In international cricket’s shortest format the importance of fielding and catching cannot be overemphasized. Perhaps the fielding coach has to work overtime in a bid to plug this loophole for the Indians are well served in batting and bowling. The top order in particular is probably the best in the game and the trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli can give sleepless nights to any bowling line-up. The discovery of Shivam Dube and the promise of Shreyas Iyer too augur well for the team. The bowling too is varied enough to trouble any opposition. Yes, there are questions to be asked over Washington Sundar’s dubious utility qualities and whether Rishabh Pant should be persevered with especially with Sanju Samson around but these can be sorted out as the preparations go on. Or perhaps the ODI series that starts on Sunday could help in solving some of the problems since many players are common to both squads.

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Feature Cricket

SA Players Must Make AB’s Return Harder

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 17 January, 2020, 5:29 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Recently Peter Siddle announced his retirement from Test cricket. Although in the squad for the Test series against New Zealand, the performances of players such as Pat Cummins and James Pattinson perhaps made it clear to the veteran fast bowler that his services were only a backup and not part of the mainstream plan. Similarly, the onus should be on South Africa’s players to not necessitate AB de Villiers’ predicted return to the team.

South Africa could well not take a chance after their doleful performances at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and include AB de Villiers if the talks mutually favor his return from retirement. Although even that return is expected to brief with an intent to feature in the ICC Twenty20 World in Australia later this year, it would mean that South Africa would need to decide quickly if they do want de Villiers and whether he is willing to be a part of the team set up once more after retiring by his choice with late pangs in the course of the World Cup.

That said, while South Africa will not want world-class talent to sit idle if it is the intention of the player to return to the game, they must, also, look ahead. With Graeme Smith as the director of cricket and Mark Boucher in charge of the team as head coach with Jacques Kallis and Charle Langeveldt to back them up in the support staff, South Africa’s cricket needs to look for successors rather than take only regressive decisions in the immediate interests of the team.

Much has been written about the Kolpak deals that have seen player drains, the financial conundrums that have forced players to retire and play in overseas domestic cricket and also, of player migrations for perceived lack of opportunities at home. The number of South Africa born players playing for other teams – including Marnus Labuschagne and Neil Wagner – is endless.

South Africa will have to find a better way for the remaining players who have decided to throw their weight behind the cause of playing for South Africa to rise to the occasion, put up their hand and be counted rather than simply make up the bleak numbers. It will mean a lot of work to unearth unpolished diamonds from the support staff and bridging the gap between domestic cricket and international level. But it will, also, mean that the players making the team know that this is an opportunity to entrench themselves.

From feeling desperate enough to controversially call up Siddle, the Australian selectors would have silently heaved a sigh of relief not at Siddle’s retirement but rather watching Australia’s bowlers do the job well enough on the field against Pakistan and again against New Zealand not to warrant Siddle’s induction into the playing eleven at any point.

Although it might seem farfetched, given South Africa’s performances in the past year, it is not beyond them to find players who can commit themselves to the point where AB de Villiers and others like him could be a problem of riches rather than the dearth forcing desperate measures. It will be up to the players to make a player, who has chosen to step out of the game, work harder to get back into the team. It is a tall order, not only because of AB’s versatility as a batsman but also, because of the many problems that virtually derailed South Africa last year.

News Cricket

AB de Villiers eyeing ODI comeback

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 January, 2020, 5:03 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

AB de Villiers has said that he would like to make a comeback to ODIs as well. Playing his first season of the Australian domestic T20 league, the Big Bash, de Villiers has fueled expectations of him making a comeback to the international cricket in its white ball avatar. The protean has already retired from all forms of international cricket.

In a post-match discussion with former Australian wicketkeeper and BBL commentator, Adam Gilchrist, Mr. 360 degree revealed that an ODI comeback is on the cards. “ODIs I wouldn’t take completely out of the equation, but for Test matches, it’s pretty much done,” Deccan Chronicle quoted de Villiers as saying.

Earlier, before making an appearance in his first-ever BBL match for Brisbane Heat, the swashbuckling batsman, in an interview to cricket.com.au had said, that he was planning to throw in his name for selection in the South African squad for World T20, which would take place in Australia, later this year.

“It’s a long way away still, and plenty can happen, there’s the IPL coming up, I’ve still got to be in form at that time. So I’m thinking of throwing my name in the hat and hoping that everything will work out,” de Villiers had said about his chances of getting into the Proteas squad for the T20 World Cup.

News Cricket

Hurt & heartbroken for not being considered in T20I squad - Kamran Akmal

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 January, 2020, 4:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Men in Green are all set to host the Bangladeshi tigers for a three-match T20I series starting from January 24. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the 15-man squad for the upcoming series at home. While the veteran all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez have been recalled by the national team selectors, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail and Wahab Riaz were left out from the T20I squad.

Surprisingly, Mohammad Rizwan regained his place in the Pakistan squad even after an underwhelming performance against Australia. Kamran Akmal, the veteran, was not happy after being ignored once again.

“Hurt and heartbroken for not being considered in the team. I have really worked hard. Anyways I won’t give up I will work harder and would like to thank everyone who supported me jazak Allah thank you.”

Apart from Akmal, former Pakistani skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed was also not considered. However, the head coach and the chief selector of the team Misbah-ul-Haq claimed that he could make an international comeback if he performs in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) this year. Pakistan will play the first T20I against Bangladesh at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni not given central contract because of BJP - Congress digital head

Staff Writer Updated: 17 January, 2020, 4:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni is one of the most famous Indian cricketers and his absence from the recently released was enough to cause an uproar on social media. The decision was slammed by cricket fanatics, who wanted to see Dhoni among the contracted players. He last played for India in the last edition of the World Cup and in England and Wales. Meanwhile, one person, who has an association with the Indian National Congress (INC), has claimed that MS Dhoni was excluded from the list on the behest of the Bhartiya Janta Party.

Gaurav Pandhi, whose Twitter profile shows that he is the National Coordinator, Digital Communications & Social Media at INC, stated that BJP had asked Dhoni to join the party and contest polls in Jharkhand but he refused to follow the instructions. He also said no to campaign for the party in the state.

He tweeted, “So, apparently the BJP reached out to MS Dhoni during Jharkhand elections wanting him to join & contest but he refused since he wants to continue with cricket. He was then asked to campaign, which he denied. Result? His contract isn't renewed this year by BCCI. INSANE! ????”

He further blasted BJP for the politicization of cricket. "Those concerned about 'Politicization of Cricket' by the BJP must know 1) they did tell you who is the boss at BCCI 2) please go check how, when & why MS was forced to retire from Test Cricket. The man who led & won us World Cup is being treated so unfairly!"

Feature Cricket

5 wicketkeepers who can replace Rishabh Pant

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 January, 2020, 3:58 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant is facing scrutiny for his performance in limited-overs cricket. Despite getting a lot of chances, the left-hand batsman has failed to meet the expectations. The calls to drop him from the team are growing louder and if he continues to fail, the wise men of the selection committee might drop him from the squad. There are many contenders, who can replace him if he is shown the door. Let’s take a look at the five possible contenders.

Dinesh Karthik

He is one of the best finishers in the slam-bang version of the game. Dinesh Karthik led India to Nidahas Trophy title in Sri Lanka after playing a blistering knock in the finale of the event against Bangladesh. He has all the shots in his batting arsenal to win close games and his wicket-keeping skills are impressive. The 34-year old has accumulated 399 runs from 32 T20Is. His strike rate of 143.52 is enough to prove his credentials in this format of the game. With Rishabh Pant’s failures, Dinesh Karthik is the safest player to replace the young gloveman.

Sanju Samson

The 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson has got limited chances in the international arena but he is a force to reckon with in the Indian Premier League. Samson scored 342 runs from 12 matches at a strike rate of 148.69 in the last edition of one of the best T20 leagues in the world. Not only this, but the Kerala batsman also impressed everyone with his record-breaking double century against Goa in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. With the T20 World Cup scheduled to be played this year, Team India needs a strong set of wicket-keepers. If Rishabh Pant continues to falter, the selectors have Samson to count upon.

Ishan Kishan

Ishan Kishan, who was the captain of the Under-19 World Cup squad in 2016, is one of the prime contenders for the wicket-keeping spot in the Indian squad. He has been seen in great form with both bat and gloves in the domestic cricket. He has an impressive batting record in the T20 format with 1714 runs under his belt. However, Kishan hasn’t made his international debut for India but he could receive his maiden call to play for India ahead of the T20 World Cup this year.

KS Bharat

Srikar Bharat has gained a lot of popularity in the domestic cricket with his flabbergasting innings for Andhra Pradesh and India A. He came into the limelight after scoring an incredible triple century in the Ranji Trophy match in February 2015. Bharat has played 43 T20 games in his career so far and is one of the players to watch out for in this format of the game.

MS Dhoni

There is no doubt in saying that MS Dhoni has lost his charm after his flop show in 2019. He hasn’t played any international game after India’s exit from 2019 World Cup semifinals and his future in international cricket has been under the scanner. However, the head coach of Team India, Ravi Shastri still believes that he could return to the squad if he is able to perform in the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League. His record is impressive in the shortest format and plays a vital role for India in the T20 World Cup.

Opinion Cricket

BCCI Contracts: Is the end of the road for MS Dhoni in Team India colors?

CT Contributor Updated: 17 January, 2020, 3:56 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Veteran Indian wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni has been omitted by the BCCI from a 27-member list of central contract awardees for the 2019-20 season. This was a move that came as a surprise, however, going by what has folded since the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup. The decision by BCCI makes sense. The 38-year-old former India captain hasn't played competitively since India's World Cup exit to New Zealand at Old Trafford. Dhoni is still in a sabbatical and there has been continuous speculation regarding his retirement.

Now with him being omitted from the contract list, the near of Dhoni's end to a prolific international career is on the cards. Interestingly, the champion cricketer had held an 'A' category contract in the previous cycle viz. 2018-19. Dhoni has been tight-lipped about his future. He is set to feature in the IPL 2020 though for Chennai Super Kings.

Recently, Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri claimed Dhoni could retire from ODIs, however, a decision on the T20 cricket could come only after the IPL 2020 season. Shastri told CNN News18, “At his age, probably the only format he’ll want to play is T20 cricket which means he’ll have to start playing again, get back into the groove because he’s going to play in the IPL and see how his body reacts.”

On asked about the IPL, Shastri claimed “So he will be left with T20, he will definitely play the IPL. One thing I know about Dhoni is that he will not impose himself on the team. But if he has a cracking IPL, well, then..."

A lot hinges on how Dhoni gets going in the IPL. In the last two seasons, he was terrific for CSK and batted well. The upcoming season will be important if he is thinking of being in the reckoning for the World T20.

However, it is highly likely that Dhoni has played his final match for India. If he was interested in featuring in the T20Is, then he would have kept himself in the fray and played for India of late. However, he decided not to do that and hasn't even played any sort of cricket. Former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also voiced the same to India Today and said it is probably the end of the road for MSD.

Feature Cricket

Women empowerment and the hypocrisy of Sourav-led BCCI

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 January, 2020, 3:51 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has once again proved that it does not walk the talk when it comes to women empowerment in terms of pay parity. The latest player retainer-ship contracts, released by the cricket board, reveals the humungous and shameful disparity in the wages of male and female professional cricketers in the country.

While the male cricketers have been provided an additional slab of A+ with rupees seven crores of pay value, the female cricketers have been given a total of only five crores, distributed among the 22 of them, with the highest slab being 50 lakh. In a country where one male cricketer earns more than the entire 22 centrally contracted female cricketers, the hypocrisy of its cricket board is nakedly visible through its action or rather inaction on the growing demands of equity and equality.

India want to achieve everything in women cricket, ranging from World Cup victories like Australia or Test victories like England, but when it comes to providing them ample support, we have lacked at all levels. Australian women cricketers get equal pay as received by their male counterparts in terms of the revenue sharing model. Cricket Australia gives contracted women the same base hourly pay rate as men in the five-year collective bargaining agreement struck in 2017. England have also announced a plan which will have 40 women contracted centrally on a pay level matching to that of male cricketers, with certain terms and conditions, as the plan is huge and includes revamping of domestic structure for women cricketers as well.

Apart from this, all three major teams, Australia, England and New Zealand have leagues for women cricket on par with their male extravagant T20 leagues. Be it WBBL in Australia, Women Super Smash in New Zealand, Kia Super League in England, all of them are broadcast live and have representation from all parts of the country, on par with the male leagues. In India though, we do not even have a proper league like IPL, forget about pay parity or broadcast parity. We Indians believe in symbolism and we brought symbolism in cricket league as well, giving the women cricketers a token three-team league and the media a bogus talking point shamelessly claiming to be working in favor of women empowerment.

While three players have been given contracts of 50 lakh under slab-A, eight women cricketers have been given a contract of rupees 30 lakh under slab-B, while remaining 11 have been put in slab C and would draw only rupees 10 lakh which is 10 times less than their male counterparts of slab-C.

The latest contracts run from October 2019 to September 2020.

Grade A (Rs 50 lakh)

Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Poonam Yadav

Grade B (Rs 30 lakh)

Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav, Taniya Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma.

Grade C (Rs 10 lakh)

Veda Krishnamurthy, Punam Raut, Anuja Patil, Mansi Joshi, D Hemlatha, Arundhati Reddy, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar, Harleen Deol, Priya Punia, Shafali Verma.

Feature Cricket

Give credit to the Aussies

Partab Ramchand Updated: 17 January, 2020, 3:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

While the post-mortem on India’s humiliating loss in the first ODI against Australia is still on and every one of them centers around where India went wrong and what they have to do to correct their mistakes one clear fact has been lost amidst all the discussions. Australia is a very strong team, they won purely on merit and due credit has not been given to them.

Let’s face facts. It isn’t every time that India has lost an ODI by ten wickets. In fact, it was only their fifth such defeat in almost 1000 matches. And not many teams have lost by such a lopsided margin after scoring 255. It was the second-highest total chased down without the loss of a wicket in ODIs. Also, the fact that Australia won with 12.2 overs to spare underlines their supremacy and their brilliance with both bat and ball.

The visitors gave enough indication of their fighting qualities when they overturned a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 triumph in the last ODI series played in this country last year. And it should not be forgotten that the Aussies are going through a purple patch right now with successive victories in all formats of the game – T-20 wins over Sri Lanka and Pakistan, five successive Test triumphs against Pakistan and New Zealand and now they have shown their prowess in no uncertain terms in ODIs. In fact, they have risen in the ICC rankings across the board and are now No 2 in Tests, No 4 in ODIs and No 2 in T-20 internationals. And by the time the ongoing series ends they could well rise further in ODIs.

So brilliantly did David Warner and Aaron Finch perform that Marnus Labuschagne whose ODI debut was eagerly looked forward to didn’t even come out to bat. And neither was Steve Smith required. And to think that Australia won the last ODI series a year ago without the services of either Warner or Smith who were serving out their one-year bans. And while it is right to praise the batting, one should not forget the role played by the bowlers too for causing the middle order slump from where the problems for India surfaced. And to think that Josh Hazlewood was not even part of the attack!

The Aussies are masters at mind games and before departing for India, Finch said that the subcontinent can make visiting players doubt their abilities. ``What can happen when you play in the subcontinent is that you start to doubt your game plan because they are so dominant when they get on top.’’ In short, the skipper said that the Aussies were the underdogs and with his remark put the onus on India. Now the pressure is squarely on the home team.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni to make himself available for ICC T20 World Cup

Staff Writer Updated: 17 January, 2020, 2:52 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

According to reports, MS Dhoni, the former skipper, will make himself available for the upcoming T20 World Cup. He hasn't played a single match since the last edition of the World Cup. Dhoni was not included in the central contracts for the 2019-20 season.

“But that doesn’t mean he won’t be considered for any selection in the future,” said a TOI source.

The report also confirmed that he will not retire till the Indian Premier League and is expected to make himself available for the national selection.

“Then it is up to the selectors and it is up to individual performances. What if he single-handedly takes CSK to victory in IPL? Won’t that matter? People should stop jumping the gun. His absence from the annual retainership doesn’t mean a thing,” the source revealed.

Even Harbhajan has not announced his retirement. “Harbhajan Singh hasn’t played since 2015-16. He hasn’t announced his retirement either. Nobody wants to ask him why he hasn’t done it. Maybe Dhoni makes a bigger headline and people love headlines,” said an official while talking to the newspaper.

“Retirement, be it Dhoni or Harbhajan or any other cricketer, is a very personal decision. Selecting or dropping a player is the selection committee’s decision. Dhoni will not play in the ODIs again. So how can he be part of the central contracts?”, he added.

Opinion Cricket

Have the selectors been unfair to Sanju Samson?

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 January, 2020, 1:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Sanju Samson played just two balls in the last T20I against Sri Lanka. He started with a six and was dismissed on the next delivery. The right-handed batsman got two deliveries to prove himself. Sanju Samson was dropped from the Indian team for the tour of New Zealand after just one international appearance in the last 5 years. Is it his fault? Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant has failed despite getting enough chances.

In his 28 matches, Pant has scored only 410 runs with a dismal average of 20.50. Time and again, he has failed to deliver in crunch situations. With two fifties and no hundreds, he is fast running out of time. If a selection panel backs a player for 28 matches despite him failing badly in batting or behind the wicket skills, should he be given more chances or should other players with a similar set of skills be tried?

Sanju Samson, on the other hand, has played only two T20Is and no other game in any other format between his debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 to the last T20I vs. Sri Lanka recently. Throughout this time, Samson has played 55 IPL matches, scoring almost 1500 runs with an average of 30, which is considered above par in terms of T20. While scoring those runs, he has had a terrific strike rate of 135. During this time his wicket-keeping skills were satisfactory as well.

There is no denying the fact that Rishabh Pant has played equally good if not better in the cash-rich league. But the point of contention is the number of chances Pant has got compared to Sanju Samson. Pant has not only played T20Is but has also featured in a lot number of ODIs. However, the story has remained the same. The wicket-keeping skills of Pant have been ordinary.

Sanju Samson’s hard work and efforts deserve more chances than he has got till date. He is a match-winner and has shown this time and again in both domestic and IPL innings. India are looking for the right fit who can match-up the quality of MS Dhoni in the finishers’ role and wicket-keeping department. Rishabh Pant has had a dismal record trying to replace the former skipper. If makes all the more important for the selection committee to give more chances to Sanju Samson to prove himself in national colors.

Virat Kohli wants to win the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia but his persistence with Rishabh Pant could hamper India’s chances, considering his repeated failures with the bat and behind the stumps. A lot has been said about the talent Pant possesses but his performance sheet is still missing any noteworthy performance.

Sanju Samson has shown his worth in the Indian Premier League, and he could be India’s next match-winner if he is given more opportunities by the wise men of the selection committee and Team India’s management. Time has come to move away from Pant and trust Samson to deliver goods for his team in the slam-bang version of the game.

News Cricket

Jab Tak Dhakke Markar Nahi Nikaloge, Tab Tak Nahi Nikloonga: KRK on MS Dhoni

Staff Writer Updated: 17 January, 2020, 11:34 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni has been excluded from the national contract which could end his career. The former Indian skipper, who hasn't played for India since the last edition of the World Cup in 2019, is keeping quiet on the future course of action. Bollywood actor and critics Kamaal Rashid Khan has blasted the Indian cricket board for dropping Dhoni from the central contract list.

“The national selectors only put up the proposal for the central contract list and as far as MSD was concerned, there was no clarity on whether he would like to continue or not,” an official in the know of things was quoted as saying by the Sportstar.

KRK took to Twitter to vent his anger and even took a dig at the former India skipper. “Today #BCCI threw out @msdhoni like many other players in the past. I strongly believed that #MSDhoni will retire with dignity and respect, unlike all other players. But he followed other players only “Ki Jab Tak Dhakke Markar Nahi Nikaloge, Tab Tak Nahi Nikloonga”! #VerySad!”

News Cricket

MS Dhoni’s career is over – Harbhajan Singh

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 January, 2020, 10:47 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Off Spin maestro and MS Dhoni’s IPL teammate, Harbhajan Singh, has said that Dhoni might have already played his last International match and he might not appear for India ever again. “I don’t think he is going to play for India again as he had decided that he will play [only] until the [2019] World Cup,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying to news agency PTI.

MS Dhoni has an important role to play in enhancing the chances of Indian Premier League side Chennai Super King in the upcoming edition. He was seen practicing with the Jharkhand side at the JSCA stadium in Ranchi. Rumors are rife that Dhoni is practicing hard as he wants to give his best in the IPL. Speaking about Dhoni’s preparations for the IPL, Bhajji said, “He must be preparing for the Indian Premier League. I am fully confident that Dhoni will have a great IPL for Chennai Super Kings.”

Harbhajan negated the possibility of Dhoni making an appearance at the World T20. “But having said that I don’t think he will play for India again even if he has a great IPL,” the Turbanator added. Earlier India coach Ravi Shastri had said that Dhoni could feature for India at the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia if he performs well in the IPL.

Under Dhoni, India won the World Twenty20 (2007), World Cup (2011) and Champions Trophy (2013). He last played for India in the World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand. The Kiwis subsequently lost an extraordinary final against hosts England.

Opinion Cricket

Is the ICC World Test Championship Self-Defeating?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 16 January, 2020, 5:39 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The idea of the ICC World Test championship is aspirational, more practical in theory and on paper. Already less than halfway into its inaugural cycle, it is showing the troubling underbelly of such an undertaking. With the skewed points tables and the reprioritizing of agendas for lesser teams, the idea of addressing a global conglomeration still remains a far fetched agenda in the five-day game.

The excitement surrounding the ICC World Test championship was understandable.

It was a way of creating a sanctuary in which Test cricket could roam freely. Subjected to an endangered species status with not enough done to prevent it from extinction, while the pink ball cricket has been seen as a cosmetic way to address a deeper, more troubling problem, the five day game needed a larger enclosure to justify its presence on the cricket landscape.

It is a lamentable state of affairs that commercial interests alone have driven Twenty20 to the forefront, exposing the dilemma of players to choose between national duties and financial security for their family as seafaring travelers and showing the avaricious nature of cricket boards willing to put Test cricket upon the barter board at trade fairs.

To that end, the ICC World Test Championship, for the time being anyway, puts away the idea of shelving the five-day game, although even the basic nature of the game of being one that is meant to be played over five days has now been brought under threat by the proposal to make the game a four-day affair.

However, while the background drum beats remain about the World Test championship providing a context to the five-day game, the problems are evident up front, suggesting that a two-tier system would have done the same as the current cycle that runs till 2021.

The lack of diversity in the manner in which points are allocated, leaving the uniform allocation of points of matches played at home and abroad, and not taking into account away wins or series wins, the ICC World Test championship has been exposed as being myopic and hastily rendered without considering the obvious loopholes. To make matters worse, the fallouts of a system that is far from inclusive have already become evident.

Ireland have backed out of hosting a Test match at home and converted another into a limited-overs series. Their contention? Financial issues as well as the fact that they are not part of the teams playing the current ICC World Test championship cycle. Therefore, there was little point in putting their efforts into the five day game in the current cycle.

The whole idea of the ICC World Test championship being aspirational automatically goes out of the window. With no immediate incentive and not enough of the big league teams interested in playing these newer teams – although the ICC has allocated a few matches, Ireland seem resigned that after their intense battle for Test cricket inclusion, they have little in their coffers and little now by way of financial support as well as incentive to play the game.

How then will these teams even pull themselves up to compete for a spot? Should there be a qualification system like for the ICC Cricket World Cup? And will that be enough?

If there was a contention that a dozen teams would be dropping like flies in the face of a two-tier relegation system, the ICC World Test Championship, in its infancy, is already exposing that there is a fair way to go before there can be a more inclusive game on show. It may have achieved the immediate agenda of trying to include as many of the original Test-playing nations as a game of appeasement. But for the time being, it is a matter only for the upper crust. And it is leading to other problems, such as the questions over the five-day game being culled and curtailed.

News Cricket

Dhoni was informed before finalizing contract list

Staff Writer Updated: 16 January, 2020, 5:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

MS Dhoni was informed about his omission from the central contract list. According to PTI, the former skipper was told about the decision of the selection committee. If he is selected for the T20 World Cup, he will be paid on the basis of match-fee.

"Let me clarify that one of the top-most BCCI office-bearers spoke to MS and told him about how they are going about in the central contracts. He was clearly told that since he hasn't played any game in the said period (September 2019 to date), he cannot be included for the time being," the official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

When the official was asked to reveal the name of the person who spoke to Dhoni, he refused to answer.

"Let's not get into who spoke. The fact is that a player of his stature needs to be told that he is not being awarded a central contract for the time being and it was done in an appropriate manner," he said.

"There will be an Asia Cup T20 (likely to be shifted from Pakistan) and if Dhoni plays a certain number of matches, he will be automatically included. It's not like he has been dumped for good. It's just that he doesn't qualify because he has not played," he added.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni has one percent chance to play in T20 World Cup - Madan Lal

Garima Kotroo Updated: 16 January, 2020, 5:37 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian captain MS Dhoni was dropped from the BCCI central contract list on Thursday. The 38-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who was earlier a Grade A contracted player, hasn’t played any international match since the World Cup. As a result, many cricket fans speculated about the end of his international career.

With MS Dhoni being left out from the newly-announced contracts, former Indian cricketer Madan Lal claimed that it will be very difficult for the veteran batsman to secure his place in the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup later this year.

"I think it's going to be very difficult for him to go to the T20 World Cup. 1% chance I would say. He is not even playing domestic cricket and playing only IPL. The reason why they didn't give the contract is not playing cricket."

Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar also raised the questions on Dhoni's prolonged absence from the international cricket.

"He has not made himself available to play for India since July 10. That is an important point. Does anyone keep himself away from playing for India for that long? That is the question and therein lies the answer"

While the rumors about his uncertain future and possible retirement are doing the rounds on social media platforms, Dhoni and the Indian team management have continued to stay tight-lipped.