Players shocked at IPL shift

Even as thousands of miles away the Indian Premier League is unfolding like a Dynasty saga, its main protagonists are desperately trying to stay calm and unaffected.

The players settled down nicely in Auckland, India’s home here, even as the New Zealand team headed straight for Napier to prepare for the second Test. According to officials, they are just waiting for the dice to stop rolling.

“There has been no official communication about the IPL plans,” said the team manager. “Until then, there is nothing that the team or players can do. They are just going about life as normal,” he added.

Accordingly, it will have a practice session on Tuesday, head for Napier on Wednesday and get into the Test on Thursday. Sounds good. Except for one little thing: the players are stunned, if not shocked by this sudden and unexpected development.

Till just the other day, almost everybody was looking forward to the tournament, analysing each other’s teams and wondering how it will unfold. Now the prospect of going away on another tour, another one stretching over 45 days, is virtually unnerving them.

“It won’t be the same,” said Sachin Tendulkar. “We will certainly miss playing in front of our supporters. Home and away was a good concept,” he added, according to information reaching here. “We feel sad that we will be playing away from India,” agreed Yuvraj Singh.

It is, however, not just about changing the entire dynamics of the tournament; it also underlines the fact that the players are nothing but puppets in the hands of warring powers.

They don’t have a choice even if a billion-dollar concept is sacrificed at the altar of politics. There is more to it, though. The third and final Test here ends on April 7; the IPL begins three days later.

It means the players can’t even go home to change: they will have to rush straightaway to England or South Africa, wherever the bandwagon stops. And worse, compete against each other.

The team itself has a killing schedule after that: the Twenty20 World Cup in England, a tri-series in Zimbabwe, hop over to West Indies for a four-match series, Champions Trophy in South Africa, followed by a string of series at home. The players have virtually no respite.

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