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For India, T20-focused approach is not easy to achieve | Cricket

Worldwide, only 18% of the players belong to the ‘traditional markets’, which have a contract at home or abroad. The growing trend (82%) is players moving towards hybrid (42%) or free agent status (40%). Almost all 18% – taking the top 100 of the T20 Player Index as an example group – belong to India. These are the main findings of a report from the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA)

FICA’s Men’s Professional Cricket Global Employment Report was published on Tuesday.

The Indian cricketer is unaffected by the changing landscape of professional cricket courts as his T20 commitments outside internationals are limited to IPL. This helps India to field full strength teams in bilateral cricket throughout the year. The report shows that Virat Kohli played 89 days of international cricket in 2018 and Rishabh Pant played 75 days in 2021, a significant portion of which came from Tests. It assists the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) in regulating the workload of players of the burgeoning T20 franchise leagues.

But will their T20 vision be affected by this?

After the T20 World Cup semi-finals, there has been a clarion call in Indian cricket to wake up to the demands of T20 cricket. There is a plea for a separate team, specialist captain, specialist coach and selectors with a contemporary view. Given skipper Rohit Sharma’s workload, it will come as no surprise if the new national selectors appoint a new T20I captain. Of course, it may be easier said than done.

According to the FICA report, before T20 cricket arrived, 22% of international matches were Test cricket in 2003. That dropped to 9% in 2021, with T20I matches taking up 71% of the calendar. T20Is have eaten up the ODI space. Space has shrunk to 78 from 19%. While Pakistan played the most matches, most T20Is, England and India played most tests and most days of cricket, as in previous years.

With the commercial viability of Test cricket proving challenging, the 2023-27 Future Tours Program (FTP) also shows India, England and Australia playing the most Tests.

However, in the case of England and Australia, their selectors are given a much larger field to pick their T20 teams from. Australia’s Tim David was parachuted into international cricket after his success in competitions around the world. English cricket has benefited from its reluctance to allow players to play in IPL. Now ex test skipper Joe Root wants to try his luck at the IPL auction to boost his T20 prospects.

T20 Freelancers Play in Multiple Leagues — David plays in seven, 14 games in three away leagues, 58 games in two and 138 games in one, the report said. No Indian player appears in the list of those who play cricket in the domestic league for more than 40 days.

If Hardik Pandya becomes India’s T20 captain, he will have just nine T20Is left to play until next year’s ODI World Cup which ends in November. His absence from the ODIs in New Zealand and Bangladesh may help his injury-prone body, but it would have left his squad of Indian T20 specialists, if India had one, rusty.

For the selectors in India, IPL is becoming the ultimate measure of form, fitness and performance. However, the fact that since 2007 they still fail to win a World T20 trophy proves that it is not enough. Therefore, the selectors try to draw from facets of a test or ODI that are similar to T20 action.

Riyan Parag’s blistering 174 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day quarter-finals for Assam and his spell of 10 left can therefore be used as a test case for his T20I prospects. Rishabh Pant’s combative batting in Tests has been used as a yardstick to choose him for T20Is.

Unlike England, India finds it difficult to internalize a deeply painted T20 vision.

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