Kolkata: Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan on Tuesday came down heavily on the Indian team stating that the cash-rich Indian Premier League was the reason that has affected the technique and temperament of the players leading to disaster in England and Australia.
Terming it as a wake-up call for Indian cricket, Imran blamed IPL and excessive focus on Twenty20 as the reason for the failure.
“In 21 years of international cricket, I did not make as much money as a mediocre player does in IPL in one season," Imran said.
“It’s really surprising for a team to go so low. During my last visit here (during the World Cup), they were at the top. It’s very important to understand."
“First of all, you must understand that if you play so much T20, you are going to pay a huge price in real cricket."
Terming Test cricketer the real connoisseur of cricket, Imran said: “I don’t know T20 or ODI average of cricketers. I am not interested. I always look up to the Test records…"
“It’s same with the team. As the name says it’s the ultimate test of a cricketer. Talent can excel in one-day cricket but in a Test, not only your talent but technique is tested. Your temperement is tested."
Imran was at his sarcastic best while criticising India’s performance in England and Australia.
“There is just one word to describe Indian cricket: Consistent. To lose 8 matches in a row, it’s an achievement!"
“It’s not easy. You would at least draw one match. To lose eight matches in a row is something."
Giving the example of Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar, Imran said, in Gavaskar, I used to find a computer at work. His mind was like a computer. Everything is processed. Which bowlers to score, when to score runs… It’s total managment of innings. That is a skill, training of mind which is involved in Test cricket."
Imran feels that one needs lot of guts to play Test cricket.
“One needs guts to play Test cricket. You can have all the talent but it takes guts to face fast bowling. I would be looking at the batsmen’s eyes. His eyes would tell me the state of mind. How brave he is. Is he confident, is he fighting…
That’s where only Test cricket evaluates the character of a player."
The legendary fast bowler feels that in T20 or ODI one can escape with a lot of chinks but not in the longer version.
“You can get away with things in ODI, T20 but not in Test cricket. You will be exposed. India will have to decide which way to go. Whether to look for glamour and money filled IPL or Test cricket," Imran said.
Imran said he had once suggested Aussie media tycoon Kerry Packer organise an exhibition match in New York in the 1990s ands got amazing response after it was curtailed to 20-overs a side because of heavy downpour.
“I saw the crowd loved it even more. I thought this is the way of introducing cricket to non-cricketing countries. I wrote to Packer to introduce cricket to Americans this way. It would make for great television viewing," he said.
“We discussed the idea. But sadly, he fell ill. Little did I realise that 20 years later it would be introduced to cricket playing countries," he said.
Dissecting India’s performance, he said the bowling unit needs to improve.
“Indian bowling needs to improve. You have to take 20 wickets to win Tests. They have not even taken 10 in one innings. Technique is completely different. The batsmen will not develop defence. The balance in Indian cricket has to be right."
Imran feels that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should rejig the domestic Ranji format, making it more competitive like the IPL.
“May I be bold enough to suggest that introduce your same T20 format in domestic circuit. Reduce the number of teams to six, bring in foreign players and make it very competitive where your top six teams will fight it out. India will be a formidable force."
He said the secret for Australia is their strong domestic cricket.
“They compete against each other with such aggressiveness and competitiveness that they produce good cricketers. Any Shield cricketer who excels automatically becomes a Test cricketer.
Our domestic cricket just does not develop Test cricket."
Imran said if India did not restructure the cricket the worst result would follow.
“Your top stars are ageing. But there are no replacements. Who are going to replace them? You would have a poor result, if there is a big gulf between the senior cricketers and the youngsters."