Where is Indian Cricket Heading

It was in July-Aug 2011, during the Patoudi Series when India lost their #1 ranking to England. They lost the series 0-4 and it was pretty humiliating as it was coming off the famous World Cup win in April 2011. India’s win in World Cup kept India safe from the criticism. However, the dust storm was waiting to unleash itself, yet no one surprisingly saw it. Everyone was hoping that 0-4 loss to England was one off thing. And, then came the Agneepath series (Border-Gavaskar series) and all hell broke loose as India lost first 3 test matches to Australia in a humiliating fashion. As i write this post, yesterday was when India lost their 3rd test match and hence loosing the series as well. And thus started the blame game.

Dhoni is suggesting in a correct diplomatic fashion that after this series he will think about getting the right mix of senior and junior players. What surprises me is that in the article and many others comments he has made, yet there is no mention of how we can improve India’s batting and bowling in the nations where we have fast pitches, which evidently is everywhere else except the sub-continent. This has been the crest of India’s problems since FOREVER and even now after another mini-crisis looms, I do not hear anyone talking about fixing that problem. I will not call myself the best cricket judge over all the talent pool we have, yet I am surprised no one is talking about this or atleast I an not reading about it. I just read this article which finds Gavaskar say:

“I think a lot of soul-searching needs to be done. We need to look at first-class cricket structure, pitches that we play, scheduling of matches, it has to be a really long hard look at everything.” – Sunil Gavaskar

“When Tendulkar and Dravid and those boys retire in a couple of years, where is Indian cricket going to be. Are the youngsters coming through?”
Australian opener David Warner is perhaps mindful of Australia’s badly handled transition

This article summarizes quotes from many great players and I would agree with all of those, it simply suggest one thing – Dhoni and selectors have been waiting too long trying to ride the “luck” Dhoni has had. And, yet their Karma has expired finally. Things do not happen on their own, they happen because someone needs to do something about it. Thinking that everyone will keep doing their job which was half as good as Australia did when they were at their peak was calling for trouble and trouble came calling.

I will quote ESPN from an article

Srikkanth, stuck to his belief that the failure of the batting line-up was behind India’s abject performance on the tours of England and Australia, though he said it was too soon for a post-mortem of the series. “It is the same problem that we had during the England series. In the last two series, the batsmen have struggled to find form. I don’t think too much of a post-mortem will lead us anywhere.

In the same article, Shukla said:

all teams had disappointing periods in cricket, and that the Indian team management would take steps to ensure a better performance on the rest of the tour. “We admit that the team’s performance has not been up to expectations,” he said. “But it happens with all teams. Recently, former world champions Sri Lanka were all out for just 47 [43, against South Africa in Paarl].

“We have won on foreign soil in the past. No one says anything then; all this criticism has been raked up due to defeats in England and Australia. Corrective measures will be taken by the team management so that the team does better in the final Test and the ODI tri-series.”

What Shukla said is perhaps right, we do not say a lot when all is going well, and when things start to go wrong everyone feels it is everyone’s right to critisize. And IT IS. We are fans, who view the sports, who make it what it is. We are the ones who make Cricket what it is. If it was not for us, Cricket may have just faded like Hockey in India (which turns out to be our National Game). Yet, Shukla seems worried about the criticism. I wonder if this is because he was also riding Dhoni’s luck.

Enough of criticism; I believe in the philosophy that if you see a problem, bring at least one solution on the table.

India cricket needs a higher calling; they need to work on getting their home in order. Having spin pitches for international matches is not a bad thing. If Australian curators prepare fast pitches to give their team the advantage, India curators should do exactly the same. But, that should not stop us from getting our international team some practice on fast pitches during Duleep trophy and other domestic formats. I am not sure, how many of our international players play domestic format. But, there has to be a way of bringing up the right talent.

Why can we not have specialists for Test Cricket who can have the edge in foreign soil; time is now to find methods that go beyond the conventional methods. We need to reinvent the way we are selecting players. Pace academies have to be setup. Seeing a little of all matches in recent series, I can say with certainty that Australia’s bowling attack was not invincible like in the past. They won because of their consistency. We need to get our bowlers the same set of consistency – bowl 6 of 6 bowls in the same spot and then we will be what others. Lets have different coaches for each division with a head coach (a strategy followed by many American sports). Let specialist focus on the problem to solve it.

Lets hope someone does something. We can afford letting go of all senior players in a flash. We need the right mix of experience and fresh blood. As Anil Kumble said – we need to have a transition plan to make it work. We are already late by 12 months, but we have to salvage all that we can.

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