Day after tomorrow for Team India - It's time to take action!
As captain Cook and his men and in fact the whole of England celebrate their first victory in a Test series on Indian soil after 28 years, it is time for some reality check for Indian cricket. The signs were ominous a long time ago when the Indian team suffered a 4-0 whitewash in England last July. They failed to take any lessons from that. This was followed by the same result against the Kangaroos six months later but still, nobody paid any heed. People (both, the fans across the nation and the men at the helm of Indian cricket) were busy with the annual cricket circus (read IPL) and did not have time to take corrective measures to revive the standard of cricket in the country, to make sure that the next line of cricketers are ready or at least there is a pool of young cricketers present to take over the baton from the ‘Galacticos’ of Indian cricket.
The IPL saga, a few victories here and there in the shorter formats of the game and a victory in the home series against the Kiwis were enough to divert all attention from the most important factor of all – is the next generation of Indian cricketers ready? Sadly enough, the answer is in negative. The days of Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman are over and those of Tendulkar are numbered. It is the next line of cricketers who need to stand up to the occasion now and take charge. But sadly enough, even with a microscopic search of Indian cricket, you cannot find anyone capable enough to fit into the shoes of these greats!
The likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh would be the seniors in the next-gen Indian cricket team. Unfortunately, all of them have had a lacklustre run for quite some time now. Yuvraj hasn’t yet been able to cement his position in the Test team and had it not been for his captaincy, Dhoni would have lost his place as well. Agreed, they are great performers in the shorter versions of the game, especially the T20 format, but one cannot be considered as a successful cricketer unless he proves his worth in the traditional format of the game. The likes of Virat Kohli, Manoj Tiwari, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are exciting players no doubt, but they have a long way to traverse before they can step into the shoes of the fab- four who lent support to the Indian middle order for almost a decade.
While batting has always been the strength of India, we must remember that the bowlers win Test matches for the team, both in India and abroad. To win a test match, you need to take 20 wickets and the present Indian bowling lacks the fizz to get them. The pack of bowlers has been led by Zaheer for quite sometime now, but it’s time we find some young fast bowlers oozing with energy. No doubt Zaheer has been a terrific performer over the years, but he is already past 34 years of age and has struggled with injuries at different times in his career. The likes of S. Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma had created a lot of buzz on their arrival in Test cricket but lost their fizz somewhere on the way while young turks like Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav have picked up injuries at the beginning of their careers. The fast bowling department has been a serious area of concern and the administrators need to take corrective measures; the sooner the better.
The other area of concern of course, is the way the Indian team has been selected in the recent past. Instead of their performances, regionalism and association with select IPL franchises have become the yardstick for the players to be selected. What else can be the reason for not selecting players like Ashok Dinda or Manoj Tiwari who have been consistently performing brilliantly in the domestic circuit year after year? Talking of concerned areas, the Indian captaincy too is something to be looked into. Dhoni has surely brought India much success in his stint as the Indian skipper, but most of that has been in the shorter formats of the game. When it comes to Test match cricket, he somehow seems to lack the spark which is distinctly visible when he leads the team in the shorter formats. Every captain has a shelf life and Dhoni, it seems, is past that point, at least in Test matches. He may continue to lead the team in the shorter versions, but India desperately needs a new captain for Test match cricket.
Lately, there has been a lot of talking about having a new coach for the Indian team too. Most pundits are not happy with the way Duncan Fletcher has been going about with his duties. Many different names are being suggested and one name is that of the original creator of “Team India” – Sourav Ganguly. Well, no doubt that he is probably the only person who can lift the morale of this team and bring it back to winning tracks. His strong presence and personality and the way he motivates youngsters would no doubt instil confidence in them and the urge to perform will hopefully come back in this team. But this strong presence of Sourav in the dressing room could call for trouble as well. It could result in a clash of ego between Sourav and the captain; exactly what happened between him and Greg Chappel. Also, the present board authorities seem to be fond of people who accept their verdicts without asking too many questions. Sourav for sure, would not be one of those boot-lickers and there is every chance that he might fall out with the BCCI honchos.
So in the present scenario, it will not be very wise to bring on Sourav as the new coach. He can be consulted though and hopefully, he would be more than happy to render any services for the betterment of Indian cricket. What needs to be seen though is what the BCCI is planning. We might be discussing all sorts of options but ultimately, it’s the BCCI who has to take a final call. With the quality of cricketers we have, we could become world beaters again if proper steps are taken and we hope to see India at the helm of world cricket once again!