T20 blamed for India's woes
New Delhi - Pakistan cricket legend Imran Khan has blamed the lucrative Twenty20 Indian Premier League for India's recent dismal Test showing, saying the focus should be on the game's longer format.
India were humiliated 4-0 in the recent series away to Michael Clarke's Australians to record eight successive overseas Test defeats following a similar hammering in England last year.
"I can only use one word to describe India's form... consistent. To lose eight Test matches in a row overseas is an achievement," Imran, the former Pakistan captain, said in the first annual Tiger Pataudi Memorial Lecture in Kolkata on Monday night.
"It's a wake-up call for Indian cricket. A team that won the Cricket World Cup and was number one in Tests a few months back is in the doldrums.
"If you want to be the leaders you can't keep losing. If you pay so much emphasis on Twenty20 cricket, you've got to pay hugely."
The annual IPL tournament revolutionised cricket when it burst on to the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international star players, short matches and Bollywood glamour.
Imran, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup triumph in 1992, said Test cricket should always be the top priority, as it is the greatest examination of players' temperament and technique.
"India has to decide soon whether it prefers glamour, Bollywood and money to Test cricket," he said. "In my 20 years of cricket, I never made so much money as a mediocre player in T20 does today.
"The connoisseurs will rate a player by his Test record and not what he's done in T20s. Test cricket is the ultimate test of a player and that's the reason Test records carry value.
"Talent can excel in one-dayers, but in Test cricket, your temperament and technique is tested besides the talent."
Imran also said India needed to overhaul their domestic cricket to make it more competitive.
"In India and Pakistan, there's a huge jump from first-class cricket to international cricket," he said.
Imran - now an increasingly influential politician in Pakistan - also paid glowing tribute to former India captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who died in September of a lung infection aged 70.
Nicknamed "The Tiger" for his brilliant fielding, Pataudi quit Tests in 1975 with 2,793 runs in 46 matches and six centuries despite losing the sight in his right eye in a car accident in England.
"If Tiger hadn't lost an eye, he would have broken all records," said Imran. "His quality of strokes was amazing. Mere mortals couldn't play them."