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Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming believes that Test specialists should be kept away from the Indian Premier League (IPL) since it is ruining their shot selection and development.
Fleming, who is also the Chennai Super Kings’ head coach, advised India to consider stopping players like Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara from participating in the star-studded tournament due to the negative impact it has had on them, especially during the recent five-Test series against England.
Vijay started off the series in red-hot form before he cooled down and eventually finished with 402 runs at a solid average of 40.20. However, Pujara was one of the bigger disappointments during the series since he only managed to score 222 runs, which included one half-century, at a dismal average of 22.20.
“The IPL is two months of the year and the only challenge is that it is probably eating into the spare time of the players around the world, especially Indian players,” Fleming said. “The thought about creating specialist Test players is an excellent one. A lot of countries are doing it, earmarking some players for one form, and that is something India might need to consider.”
However, with players earning a huge amount of money during the tournament, Fleming conceded that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will have to give players who do not play in the tournament some financial compensation. If this is not done, then the players will be even more inclined to play in the tournament despite it harming their skills in the long run.
“And keeping in mind though that the IPL is such a good competition to play, and to keep a player out of it there might have to be remuneration of another form because all players want to gravitate towards it and play it so there will have to be a pretty strong directive to keep them away,” Fleming said. “Then again becoming the Test player could be enough but it is something they need to consider. [Cheteshwar] Pujara is that type of player, even [Murali] Vijay, they are very talented players in the short form but keeping them out of it would enhance their Test game probably.”
Fleming has worked closely with India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for numerous editions of the IPL since he is also Chennai’s skipper. However, Fleming believes that it is hard to judge Dhoni as India captain since he played extremely well in the recent Test series against England.
Dhoni scored 349 runs at an average of 34.90, but it was not enough to stop his side from crashing and burning to a 3-1 defeat. However, due to India’s failures in overseas series, Fleming feels that people have the right to question whether Dhoni has what it takes to carry on captaining India.
“It is hard because I only deal with him in T20 matches and you don’t have any time to drift there,” Fleming said. “It is very hard for me to comment before the series falls for us in the middle of the night so you don’t get to see the ball by ball for the series and without doing that I find it hard to comment on his captaincy.
“He was very good at Lord’s especially with the short ball but after that they didn’t get enough runs so there was run pressure. As far as his captaincy goes, I didn’t see enough to give you a comment. What I will say again is within the results he has got to be under pressure naturally as the leader of side. The dramatic turn of form, speaking from advice, does warrant those questions. His form with the bat was good I understand but certainly the captain always gets looked at when the series goes wrong.”