A question that gets asked regularly is whether IPL has affected our Test batting or not. The same argument was put forth when ODIs were introduced and also international T20s. But the IPL seems to get the maximum bad press.
The first IPL took place from April to June 2008 and it is quite interesting to see the Test performance of our top batsmen before and after this period.
In terms of batting averages our top three Test batsmen were,Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag.
It is interesting to note that the batting averages of all three fell after the advent of IPL.
Before IPL, Tendulkar had an average of 55.3 and that fell to 49.9. Dravid’sfell from 54.9to 45.6 and Sehwag went down from 51.8to 46.6.
However, the averages of the batsmen with lower ones actually went up after IPL. VVS Laxman moved up from 43.8 to 50.8; MS Dhoni was up from 33.8to 40.8 and Gautam Gambhir shot up the most from 33to 45.3.
Another thing to see is that the Test averages seem to have gone down for those who debuted after the IPL…
Murali Vijay: 36.3. Shikhar Dhawan: 38.58. Virat Kohli: 39.5. Ajinkya Rahane: 39.9. Rohit Sharma: 48.9. Cheteshwar Pujara: 49.3.
The strike rates have gone up though.
That of the old guard was…
Dravid: 42.5. Laxman: 49.8. Sourav Ganguly: 51.3. Gambhir: 51.3.
That of the new guard is…
Vijay: 44.9. Pujara: 50.1. Kohli: 50.1. Rahane: 52. Rohit: 54.5. Dhawan: 66.8.
Dhoni who by now has played most of his Tests after the advent of IPL averages 59.2.
The only exception is Sehwag who has an astonishing strike rate of 82 in Tests. Vivian Richards, Adam Gilchrist and Sehwag are in a league of their own when it comes to Test batting.
Of course the IPL has changed the way bowlers bowl and batsmen bat with more and more shots being invented. How much does this rub on to Tests?
This question has more relevance for India because only a fraction of all other international teams play in the IPL unlike India where almost every member of team India plays for two months every year.
But when one looks at the most prolific international IPL players (those who have scored more than 1500 career IPL runs) then one sees that the same trends hold.
Those with a higher average see a fall.
South African Jacques Kallis went down from 57.1 to 51.1.Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene went down from 52 to 46.6.Australian Michael Hussey saw the greatest fall from 78.1 to 43.5.
Those with lower Test averages shot up.
These are huge spikes from a minimum 10.3 to a maximum 21 points!
It’s a perfect trend except for Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara,but even he has seen a spike from 55 to 63.
Whichever way you look at, it seems everyone’s Test batting has been affected by the IPL for better or worse!
Then what about India’s current overseas Test debacle? Is that due to IPL? In the last few innings, Team India came out with T20 type scores and that was noticed by many.
However, India’s golden age of overseas Tests lasted from 2003-11 and a bad phase from 2011-14.
But the IPL debuted in 2008, so it’s quite difficult to see an overall link in Test performance. We incidentally did come out with our first ever 4-0 Test whitewash and that too against a team like Australia last year.
People also point to the fact that India played IPL immediately after winning the World Cup and that led to fatigue. But after the IPL we won both the Test and ODI series on West Indian soil along with the only international T20.
Others point to the fact that England avoids IPL and does better in Tests, but it faced a 0-5 Ashes whitewash against Australia in 2013-14!
In six Tests on the trot with South Africa, New Zealand and the first two Tests against England, India lost 2, won 1 and drew 3 (2 which it almost won). That shows a really fighting side.
Then we suddenly we were annihilated in three straight Tests. That shows more of a mental problem than an IPL problem!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/