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IPL has got bigger every year: Ravi Shastri


IPL has got bigger every year: Ravi Shastri – Ravi Shastri was all praise for the cash-rich league.

Former India captain and Team India director Ravi Shastri in Mumbai on Monday after being roped in by Greycells Education Limited as mentor and advisor for their skill training initiatives (DNA – G Krishnan)

The tenth edition of IPL is only two days away. And, Ravi Shastri, an ardent supporter of the most popular and sought-after cricket league in the world said on Monday that he would not be surprised if it would go on to be the biggest of all the editions.

Speaking to journalists here on Monday, Shastri, who has been commentating on every edition of IPL since its inception in 2008, said: “It (IPL) has got bigger every year. I thought it was biggest last year and I won’t be surprised if IPL-10 is the biggest. The way India has played last season will be a big boost, being the No. 1 (Test) team in the world, No. 1 & No. 2 across all formats will make a big difference.”

He said there might be some unknown player with some extraordinary talent waiting to set the IPL 2017 ablaze.

Shastri said: “They will do because you don’t know what the guys are practicing. A new talent will come on the block that will take all you guys by storm. Suddenly, he might be India material. All these guys, (Ravindra) Jadeja, (Hardik) Pandya, did well in the IPL to again come back into focus when they were not doing well. It is a massive stage.”

Money should inspire youngsters to do better

IPL has its share of critics and Shastri appealed to them to look at the quality of cricket the league dished out.

The 54-year-old former India all-rounder said: “Don’t forget, a lot of players have come through the IPL. They have honed their skills through IPL, they have got an opportunity, a platform to showcase their talents. As much as people want to criticise it across the globe, what they forget and I would like to tell them is to please focus on the cricket that IPL produces. The quality of cricket is outstanding. The fielding, the running between the wickets, the power hitting… Just see the quality of cricket. The emphasis and focus is on the bucks. Who is paying the bucks? The market forces. Why blame the cricketers. It is the franchise who is putting in the money.”

He also had a word of caution for players who tend to get carried by the money in IPL. Asked how he would handle such a player, Shastri said: “First, I will see if he is getting carried away or not. The bottom line is you have to tell him he is getting the money because of the game. So, you fool around, the money is not going to come to you. They will drop you like a sack of potatoes. In fact, you have to be smart and that should inspire you to do even better.”

Two corridors for IPL

Shastri also advocated two corridors for IPL and should be treated on par with the Indian domestic first-class season.

He said: “IPL is your first-class domestic tournament. India should have two corridors just for that, not one. It should be four weeks, six weeks, you can extend it to even eight weeks. It is your first-class structure. Like your Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy, for your T20, it is the IPL. You don’t need any other domestic T20 tournament.

“Even if it means you have to cut down on Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, so be it. Here is the opportunity. You have eight franchises. Seven Indians play in each franchise. You have 56 Indians getting a chance, every day on a big stage, rubbing shoulders with four other overseas players. That complex disappears. That fear of what’s it like sitting in the dressing room with X, Y, Z goes. You suddenly say, ‘I have crossed the boundary line with him, he is as good as me’,” Shastri said.

“I always say you will be a strong team if you focus on your domestic structure. IPL is firmly and squarely part of the domestic structure. Don’t treat it as another tournament because the foreigners play.”

‘Champions Trophy, what for?’

Shastri was not a big fan of the ICC Champions Trophy, which will follow the IPL this year. He even had his own doubts over the future of the 50-over format. Shastri, who played in 80 Tests and had the Test double of 3,000 runs and 150 wickets, said: “T20 is the future. If you want Test cricket to survive, you need one cash card. I have always maintained that. If you ask me, five years down the line, there will be very little 50 over cricket. I think there are too many ICC events that even has so many world champions. I meet anyone on the street, he says ‘how many World Cups are happening’, ‘Who is the world champion?, which is a fact. You have the Champions Trophy, you have the World Cup, both are 50-over cricket and you are diluting the World Cup.”

He gave thumbs up for Test cricket and T20 going forward.

“What else do you need? What do you need Champions Trophy for? What are you trying to prove? You ask me last 10-12 World Cups, I will tell you who has won. You ask me last Champions Trophy who won, I don’t know. Last one I will tell you because India won. Otherwise, I don’t have a clue and I have broadcast on all of them. After two weeks, you only won’t give it importance. World Cup, you will, that you will remember. What is Champions Trophy? I know we have won but I don’t know how important it is,” said the former left-arm spinner and right-handed batsman.