Rahul Dravid: Releasing Indian stars to play T20 leagues would ‘finish’ domestic cricket

Coach warns India would follow the decline of West Indies and affect Test game, too

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Rahul Dravid acknowledged India’s players suffer from not playing in T20 leagues overseas, but warned it would be the end of domestic cricket in India if they were released to play.

The India coach saw his side thrashed by 10 wickets in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup against England in Adelaide on Thursday.

Alex Hales, a batter who has regularly played in Adelaide as an overseas player in Australia’s Big Bash League, led the way for England with 86 not out.

Jos Buttler, England’s captain, said that Hales’ past experience of league cricket in Australia will have helped him.

The opposition players, though, are restricted from playing in competitions outside of the Indian Premier League by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Dravid accepted that can be detrimental to his players, but said the timing of leagues abroad makes the decision not to release them understandable.

“There is no doubt about the fact a lot of England’s players have come here to play [BBL] and it certainly showed,” Dravid said.

“It is tough. I think it is very difficult for Indian cricket. A lot of these tournaments happen right at the peak of our season.

India's Hardik Pandya (R) talks to coach Rahul Dravid at the Adelaide Oval on November 10, 2022. AFP

“It is a huge challenge for us. Yes, a lot of our boys do miss out on the opportunity to play in a lot of these leagues.

“It is up to the BCCI to make these decisions, but it is right in the middle of our season. With the kind of demand there would be for Indian players, if you allowed Indian players to play in these leagues, we would not have domestic cricket.”

Dravid thinks an exodus of players from Indian domestic cricket would affect the future of the Test game.

“Our Ranji Trophy [Indian cricket’s first-class competition] would be finished,” Dravid said.

“That would mean Test cricket would be finished. I know a lot of people talk about it, but we have to understand the challenges Indian cricket faces.

“You would see all our boys being asked to play leagues bang in the middle of our season. We have seen what that has done to West Indian cricket. I would definitely not want Indian cricket to go that way.

“It would affect our Ranji Trophy. It would affect Test cricket. Indian boys playing Test cricket is pretty important for the Test game as well, I would think.”

Buttler, who shared in a remarkable 170-run unbroken stand with Hales, said his opening partner benefited from previous experience in Australia.

“It helps,” Buttler said. “Alex would have played as much Big Bash cricket as anyone.

“The way he batted was amazing. A huge strength of his is square of the wicket. He is a tough guy to bowl at and has been performing really well for a long period of time.

“Unfortunately he has been unable to get back in due to other players playing brilliantly well as well. Through circumstances an opportunity has arisen and, in the last three matches especially, his form has been brilliant.”

Updated: November 10, 2022, 12:38 PM