Two cents from a frustrated Indian fan
In the last decade or so, I have been a keen supporter of Team India. Every decision or team selection has been closely followed. There have been discussions after every loss, satisfaction after every win.
Its’ not that India were a ruthless dictator in the game of cricket. They weren’t even the most talented team in the world. They probably weren’t even the most exciting team in the world. I merely supported them because they seemed like a team who were always improving. It wasn’t much more than just my nationality that made me tune into a match that India was playing.
The Indian team kept repaying this faith on a number of occasions, like in England (‘02, ‘07), Australia (‘03/04, ‘07/08), South Africa (‘06/7, ‘10/11), West Indies (’06, ’11) as well as New Zealand (‘08/09). Sure, once in a while, the team did slip up even at home, like when we played Australia at home in ‘04/05. Nonetheless, there was enough reason to wear a blue jersey and support the team passionately.
Then came 2011, where India toured England and Australia. Match after match, the team were humiliated and crushed brutally. Almost throughout the tours, India looked clueless. If that did not hurt the fans enough, we are currently on the verge of conceding a 2-1 lead in a four-match home series against England.
A lot of Indian fans will continue to support the team, because they believe that the team is in transition. They will explain that two key batsmen have left and that our bowling is also hindered by injuries, so it will take time to rebuild the team. Fellow Indians will ask me to stay calm and keep supporting the team, but I have lost all my patience.
I ask, how many of changes in the Indian team were brought about by the selectors or the BCCI after those tours? Just one: Ishant Sharma. And he too, has managed to sneak into the eleven without doing too much in domestic cricket.
Why didn’t the BCCI or selection committee care to even try and change a few things around? The fact is, had Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman not decided to retire, we would have been playing the same XI. Is there anybody responsible for the Indians’ 0-8 bashing or are they not even bothered about these results?
If that wasn’t frustrating enough, there were statements made by some of the Indian players. After losing badly, they came up with statements on how they too would win at home. That attitude has hurt our chances. It felt almost as if, we don’t care enough about winning abroad.
One of the first steps to improving our team should have been to accept that we have been awful. Acknowledging that there is a large scope of improvement is important. However, it seems not only are we content with winning at home, but also over-confident about it.
If I had the power in my hands, I would sack Duncan Fletcher and MS Dhoni. Fletcher, in particular, has to go. Unlike the Wright, Chappell or Kirsten era, there seems to be no plan under him. The skipper should not even make the test squad in my opinion, let alone be the leader. Lately, whatever he has tried as captain has failed miserably.
Secondly, I would drop every player who had arrogantly claimed that India would also have won at home. This would teach them to take these losses more seriously. Of course, both these changes ideally should have brought into effect the moment the Australia tour ended.
All I want is India’s board or the selection panel to start making some changes, planning ahead to avoid such disasters in the future and show that they actually care about more than just making money. I don’t expect India to win every single match, but the Indian team needs to put up some fight and give more reasons for us to support them. Only then will this dejected fan put his jersey back on and support the team with full ardour.
After those two catastrophic tours, I would have been satisfied only with some changes and a 4-0 win against England. However, unfortunately I am sure that India will manage to level this series at 2-2 and we will see no (or hardly any) changes, whether in personnel or in attitude.