Perth: The Indian cricket team already has a cramped round-the-year schedule and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni made it clear that it's not his team's responsibility to play more against countries like UAE in a bid to raise the quality and profile of the game in ICC's Associate nations.
With ICC reducing the number of nations for the next World Cup to 10, there's been a raging debate as to how Associates will improve if they don't play against the Big Boys regularly.
Dhoni was asked if India would be willing to take the bait and help UAE play more against them, his answer was a terse one.
“Not against India. I don't see even a few days off to play any more cricket than what we play. Our calendar is nine and a half months. We play IPL for two and a half months and also the Champions League T20, and even then we match every other Test playing nation when it comes to the number of Tests and ODIs. I don't see India playing any more games. We can't, unless we play two games in one day, which is just not possible,” Dhoni's answer was laced with sarcasm.
Dhoni then said that when people raise question marks about his team's fitness, they often forget the amount of cricket played by his team.
“A lot of our players get criticised, and a lot is said about our bowlers are not fit enough, or our cricketers, they get injured. But if you see, it's the same set of players that play all the formats, Tests, ODIs, T20, then to go back and play Champions League and IPL. So looking at the workload, don't be surprised if I say that our bowlers are amongst the fittest because of the amount of cricket that they play.
“Not to forget when they get a break, they get a call from their local states to play for their team, and there's no number of overs that they have to bowl. The India bowler comes, you give the ball and you forget everything.”
As an afterthought, Dhoni did try and sound sympathetic towards Associates' growth but with a rider that it can't happen at the cost of India.
“Yes, the associate nations, if they can get a few more games, better scenario, good facilities, it will be good for them. At the end of the day, it's like a circus where you want to play in front of people, want to compete in best scenarios. So we'll have to formulate a way, but please, not India. India can't play any more games,” he pointed out.