Sunday, January 15, 2012

Indian Cricket: The Alteration

We are 15 days into the year of Alan Turing and the Indian cricket team have already failed to force a resuscitating Australian team to bat twice in the two tests that have taken place since the turn of the year. The same Indian side that was the numero uno in the Test arena, less than six months ago. 

The mob have given their verdict. It's a gospel that the Indian cricket team never seem to do well on pitches that assist pace bowlers, they say. A look at India's record overseas from early 2003 to June 2011 and you could characterise that as a myth.

A number of ingredients to blend are essential for a team to do well. In a team sport, it's more the reason. Compare it with the manufacture of an alcoholic beverage like rum. At the start, you need some sugarcane or it's by-products. Sugarcane by-products then undergo a process of fermentation and distillation.

Do we have capable sugarcane in our country? Not many would disagree that we have scads of talent. The fermentation and distillation is where a part of the problem lies. I read a recent interview of Suresh Raina where he spoke of going and playing a season of county cricket to resurrect his Test career. Remember the good old days when almost every Indian cricketer used to go to land up in county cricket? Such stints helped them immensely especially with respect to their technique and helped them acclimatise to foreign conditions better. 

I'm not against the Indian Premier League. Sportspersons have a limited period where they get paid. Not all of them end up being as fortunate as Alan Hansen earning £1.5m a year post their playing careers for spouting rubbish. But sometimes you wonder, who comes up with cockeyed ideas like having a ridicuously long T20 just after a joyous but tiring World Cup?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has accepted responsility for the humilation. And rightly so. His captaincy has been barren. One of the features of a leader is to inspire his/her troops to another level. What we have seen in England and Australia is just a sorry tale of delicate performances where one feels the team is giving in quicker than a fight between Muhammad Ali (at his peak) and Seth Green would last.

After seven consecutive losses away from home, you'd think it's time for Dhoni to bequeath his role as the captain of the Test team to someone else. But is there a better option in the wings? The names of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir spring to mind. Both have been low on form with the latter unsure of a permamnet spot in the playing XI. Can Indian cricket take a huge gamble and invest the future in the hands of Virat Kohli?

A lot has been said about the older players in the squad. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman aren't exactly at a stage of their career when they are ageing like fine wine and it's a worrying fact that the trio are the only ones in the top seven of our famed batting line-up to avergae over 30 over the last year. 

Change is inevitable. It's crucial the transition is a process and not a quick fix like a band aid on the wounds of a domestic animal. When the transition completes, it's of the essence we're not left to ask ourselves - 'Why is the rum gone?'

My Twitter: @IlGiganteBuono

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