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Sack the Captain? Then what?

18 Dec 2012, 11:12 IST

Sachin, Gambhir and Sehwag – time to go?

The series between India and England has finally ended on a humiliating note, with India surrendering to the persistence of the Englishmen. India has finally succumbed in home conditions after a very long time, and no one has raised their hands to accept their fault in these defeats. The blame game has already started between the seniors and it is quite clear that no one wants to take responsibility for these defeats.

Recently I saw a comic of Batman in a social networking site which read “Need help? Call for Superman, I’m retired!” referring to the fact that the director of the Batman franchise, Christopher Nolan, has announced that “The Dark Knight Rises” was going to be the last movie of this series. A strange thought occurred to me and I visualized Sachin instead of Batman saying “Need help? Call for youngsters, I’m retired!” But that seems most unlikely to happen, considering that Sachin wants to keep playing on forever. Probably he could, if some sympathetic vampire decides to bless him with the gift of immortality. His fitness would be back and so would the run-making of the old.  But that seems incredulous even for a thought. What will happen to the youngsters then, who have been working hard in the domestic circuit aspiring to don the prestigious whites someday?

Sachin Tendulkar is only the tip of the iceberg of problems that India is facing at the moment. At least he has the mandates to stake a claim in the team for a lifetime. But there are others who have made no efforts to rectify their mistakes, improve or at least drop themselves for the sake of the team. Quite frankly, they should have gone after they had failed in the England series last year. Instead, they chose to feign injuries and past ailments to dodge the situation instead of facing it. They handed over the series to England on a platter, blaming conditions, umpires and other players, with audacity that bemuses even the most lenient of the fans.

Frankly speaking, there was no introspection after the humiliating defeats overseas, and a fake show was put on by making two of the seniors retire. But what people did not realize that the problem did not lie with the aged seniors alone. The others have been quite poor throughout the last two years including Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir and they have chosen to ignore their poor stats in international games. Sehwag got a ticket to the Sri Lanka series and the World T20 riding on his form in the IPL, whereas his ODI and Test form has been quite pathetic for some time now. Gambhir is a different case entirely. He makes us laugh, claiming that he has the talent to lead India after winning a single IPL trophy whereas his form is worth questioning his place in the side.

A captain is only as good as his team and quite honestly one cannot blame Dhoni alone for these defeats. There weren’t eleven Dhonis playing on the team, although every player’s performance wasn’t different from that of Dhoni’s. It isn’t like the other players were performing very well and India kept losing due to Dhoni’s incompetence.

The problems did not arise after the England series last year, or after the retirements of the legends, as many pundits claim. Its roots go way back to the year 2008, when the IPL was introduced. The show got much bigger, with players earning in crores. The IPL was a sanctuary to the domestic players, who were not making big money like their India team counterparts. The success of the IPL led to Indian cricket board anointing itself as the undisputed king in cricketing circles and began dictating their own terms. The players got fame and quick money and were satisfied with their performances in the IPL, partying to celebrate the insignificant victories they achieved in useless IPL matches. Very few bothered about a test cap, or the glory of playing for five days in sweltering heat when they can easily make the same kind of money by playing for just over a couple of hours in the cash rich IPL.

But one must credit the BCCI to have a soft corner, or Yuvraj Singh would have never made a comeback in to the team. It is really shocking to see the selectors banking on the past credentials, no less in a different format of the game, to award him a place in the Test team when some better players were left to rot on the benches. Not to mention the other players who have always managed to reserve a place in the team whenever they felt like making a comeback (Read Zaheer and Harbhajan). Honestly, Zaheer does not deserve to play for India with his fitness levels, or lack of them. He is old and should look to retire whilst pride still remains.

The officials responsible would be busy with the post-mortems of the defeats, even as we are discussing this. Many such post-mortems have been conducted after innumerable series defeats in the past, and none has yielded a permanent solution. I’m sure that this is what is going to happen, “Lost the series? Blame the skipper and sack him! Problem solved!!” It has been the modus operandi for the selectors and I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes to pass in a couple of days.

Indian is in a soup, and it would require extremely firm hands to steer the ship. I believe that Dhoni should be given a chance to make amends for this humiliation. Sack the unreliable players to show that  their superstar status is given by us and we have every right to take it back! At least Star Cricket can make lesser number of ads then!

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