The one-off T20 match between India and South Africa, to be held on 30 March in Johannesburg, has left the mainstream of 9 Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises upset. To have their IPL preparations ready, the franchises say they need a gap of at least one week before the Twenty20 league commences.
Even prior to the public statement of the T20 fixture, Indian Premier League franchises regarded as their hands tied by then, a jam-packed international schedule as well overlapping with the ending of the domestic editions in South Africa and India.
The T20 match that Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced would be annual match, could leave a group of players worn-out as it begins immediately after the long domestic seasons for South Africa and India. The T20 match to be held at the Wanderers begins 3 days after SA completes its tour of New Zealand with 3 back-to-back test matches, just a week after Asia Cup and 4 days prior to the beginning of the Indian Premier League in Chennai on 4 April. The T20 match also comes very close to the heels of Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament finishing on 27 March and the MiWay Cup ending on 1 April, the domestic T20 matches for South Africa and India correspondingly.
According to sources MS Dhoni would be leading an Indian squad of 15 members for the Twenty20 international fixture, while minimum of 10 South African players belonging to different IPL franchises are supposed to participate. The SA squad is yet to be declared.
In terms of figures, the squads that would include the optimum brunt from the T20 are Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings; as many as 5 cricketers from each of these teams could take part in South Africa v India match. Subsequent IPL team is Pune Warriors, which has 4 of its players travelling for the game together with the coaching pair Paddy Upton and Allan Donald. In fact, all the 9 IPL franchises include at least one cricketer in the T20 match.
“It interrupts the teams’ schedule,” an IPL franchise official said. “You need to travel for 2 days to reach there and travel back. Some of the cricketers might face jet-lag by the time they begin playing.” Increasing the trouble for few cricketers would be their captains’ requirement to travel on 3 April to reach Chennai to sign the spirit of the cricket document.
The Knight Riders captain, Gautham Gambhir, would be travelling on 29 March to Johannesburg, come back to India on 31 March. He mostly will rush to Kolkata, practice the game for a day or two, then satisfy the franchise promotional activities, he would attend for the toss at Eden Garderns, in their team’s edition opening match against Delhi Daredevils.
Another IPL franchise official said, “The players need to get there at least 7 days prior to the tournament, else it may become difficult as the schedule goes screwy. Usually anyone likes to begin the camp 2 weeks prior to the tournament. However, with the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament ending just on 27 March, it may become a problem.
An official from another IPL franchise stated that a big issue during the earlier 4 IPL editions was that it took so much of time for a various groups of players to meet together and understand one another. “You try to bring thirty cricketers from various parts of the globe to join as a group, but it turns out difficult to gather them together and ask them to understand each other just in few days.
Considering the T20 match is to be an annual tournament, the main consent among the IPL franchises is there must be a clear gap of minimum of one week, if not 2 weeks, for the cricketers to join the camp. “If you have ten day camp you can prepare plans accordingly at least, conduct few practice games to develop some strategies and identify players’ weaknesses and strengths. But with the fixture match between South Africa and India, these are all not at all possible,” said another franchise official.
The lack of enough time also implies that the issues related to adaptation for foreign players will only become more difficult. Another IPL franchise said, “It is also about circumstances. There are some cricketers who come from South Africa and New Zealand where the pitches are all bouncy and they may suddenly find themselves on flatter ones.
No solution to be available for this, with different IPL franchise officials stating their hands are tied and they just have to make it through working with rest of the cricketers. “You cannot help it. What can you do on this? You cannot play the game after the Indian Premier League circumstances are not positive in SA. The only choice is cricketers will rush in and there would be too many commitments that will need to be done faster.
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