Even after performing extremely well in IPL 2020, Suryakumar Yadav and Axar Patel have been overlooked while picking the squad for the Australian tour. Compare that to the performances of a Ravindra Jadeja, who has failed, putting a question on the relevance of IPL in selection.
On 26th October, BCCI finally announced the squads that will travel to Australia to play all the three formats of cricket. But the aftertaste that their selection has left is quite bitter. Look, I don’t claim to be an expert - I see an in-form player, I call him an in-form player, I see an out-of-form player, I call him an out-of-form player. And the selections are based on the current forms of players. Quite simple. But this simple concept seems to be out of the grasp of selectors, who seem to change the basis of selection according to the narrative that they wanna tell and the player they wanna select.
While what the selectors felt when they were looking at Suryakumar Yadav play this IPL seems unclear, it surely can’t be that he does not deserve a place in the Indian team. Just the way he has organised himself from the start has been beautiful - he's not looked in a hurry, he's controlled the game, and has played shots wherever he wanted. A good example of this was his innings against the Indian skipper Virat Kohli-led team on Wednesday, where he mixed his class with perfect timing to produce arguably the best innings of this IPL. The way he towed with Yuzvendra Chahal was unreal.
After getting swept brilliantly by SKY for a four and a six in his previous over, Chahal tried to outdo SKY with a flighted outside off delivery, which batsmen haven’t been able to hit. But SKY had already made up his mind to hit him over covers and boy did he hit a gorgeous six. Even the best of batsmen would struggle to hit it over covers that smoothly. There was no looking back for SKY from that point as he piled one after other gorgeous strokes. The only thing that was visible was the injustice done to him by not giving him the national call even after having a stellar IPL season with 362 runs in 12 matches.
Same has been the case with Axar Patel, who has been nothing but excellent this season, rescuing Delhi Capitals multiple times with the bat and the ball. He’s no big turner of the ball nor does he have any mystery, but he has proved with his accurate bowling that he is as good as any. With the bat, he played a match-winning cameo of 20 off 4 balls to win the game for Delhi. For context, let’s compare Indian spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who has just 4 wickets to his name with an economy of 9.26, with Axar’s 8 crucial wickets at an economy of 6.13. The perfect like for like replacement for Jadeja was available but selectors opted to go with the out of form player.
On the other hand, Varun Chakravarthy has been picked on the basis of a breakout IPL season, where he has picked up 10 wickets in 11 matches, which makes for a great story for him as well as the IPL. Even Mayank Agarwal has been picked on the basis of a dominating IPL season, where he has amassed 398 runs in 10 matches. Again, this is exactly what should be done in an ideal scenario, but there are lots of inconsistencies in the decisions of the selectors, which makes one question the importance of IPL for selection in the national team.
Other nations have given utmost importance to their leagues, where they have picked players on the basis of their domestic league performances. PSL, BBL, and Vitality Blast - everywhere players who do well regularly find themselves on the national team sheet. While Haider Ali made it into the Pakistan national team after a stellar PSL season, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake and Ashton Turner are examples of players who have, at least, got the opportunity to wear Australian limited-overs jerseys because of terrific performances in BBL. Talking about Vitality Blast, Tom Banton, Saqib Mahmood, and Matt Parkinson got a direct entry into the England team after they impressed everyone in the league.
Contrasting to the policies of foreign boards, the BCCI seem to have too many inconsistencies in their selection decision. Sometimes, they look at IPL performances, sometimes they don’t. Then what would be the incentive of a player like SKY or Axar to perform in the nation’s premier league? Is the league just a mean to mint money? Over time, this will only ruin the image and quality of IPL, which players would not give much importance to as it doesn’t help in their selection to the national team. Meanwhile, players who are performing well and deserve a chance will spend most of their time out of the Indian team.