NEW DELHI: Saurav Ganguly offered advice on Tuesday for cricketers worried the short turnaround between the Indian Premier League and the World Cup could leave them fatigued — just enjoy it while you can.
The gruelling Twenty20 tournament starts on Saturday and runs flat-out for nearly six weeks, leaving barely any breathing room before the World Cup gets underway on May 30.
Coaches and captains are preparing for star players to be recalled from the IPL by their national cricket boards for a rest in the days before the game’s biggest spectacle gets underway in England and Wales.
But Ganguly, one of India’s most successful former skippers and special adviser to the Delhi Capitals IPL team, said those fretting about timetables and fatigue should ‘just play’.
“Yes, it is a lot of cricket, but just play. You don’t play forever,” he told reporters in Delhi. “I have always said there is a limited time to play the sport and when you are getting the opportunity at the international level and the IPL level, these will not come back.
“So just find a way to get rest, get fresh... make the most of it.”
Teams play 14 matches each in just under six weeks during the IPL, which has evolved into one of the world’s richest sporting competitions and attracts foreign stars and coaches.
Australian batting legend Ricky Ponting, who is coaching the Capitals and has played in the IPL himself, said he was prepared for players to pull out before the tournament ends in May.
“I can see it from a board’s point of view, that they want to make sure they can put their best team on the park for the entire World Cup,” Ponting said in Delhi. “They are doing whatever they can to look after their players, so I am sure at some stage as well, some of the Indian fast bowlers might be on some sort of restrictions at the back end of this tournament.”
Meanwhile, Ganguly has offered two extreme choices to end India’s quest for the perfect number four batsman at the World Cup, suggesting they choose between Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant for the role.
India continue to fret over the crucial batting slot after a series of candidates fluffed their auditions ahead of the mega event in England and Wales.
Ganguly caused quite a consternation by suggesting the name of Test specialist Pujara who played the last of his five ODIs in 2014.
“I suggest Pujara’s name because he’s in great form. We’ve seen how well he did in Australia,” Ganguly said of the 31-year-old architect of India’s first-ever Test series victory in Australia earlier this year.
Ganguly pointed out how Rahul Dravid became part of India’s ODI squad despite not being a power-hitter.
“I’ve seen Rahul Dravid playing World Cup and excelling at number four and five. We used to assign him a role. So I suggest, if you don’t have a ready number four batsman, you can consider Pujara,” Ganguly said.
In case it’s too radical a choice, Ganguly also suggested the name of Pant, more a plunderer than an accumulator of runs.
The 21-year-old, who has built a growing six-hitting reputation, impressed in the Test series in England and Australia and is expected to be India’s second choice wicket-keeper behind Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the World Cup.
Pant has not been as impressive in one-dayers, but Ganguly attributed it to his limited chances that came only when Dhoni was either resting or recovering.
“Rishabh is coming in and going out all the time and that’s never good for anybody. The reason he succeeds in Test cricket is because he plays it consistently,” said Ganguly.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019