It was a known fact that India’s tour of England was going to be a challenging experience for both teams but a whitewash in favor of England was least expected before the start of this series. Nevertheless, England played to its potential whereas it would be fair to say that India played worse than an associate nation.
If you thought India were decimated when they lost the first Test by 196 runs, it is appalling how badly they fared from thereafter. The margin of defeat kept increasing as India lost the second Test by 319 runs, the third by an innings and 242 runs, and on a humorous note, they bettered their performance in the fourth Test as they lost, yet again, but this time by an innings and 8 runs.
A lot has been written about India’s loathsome performance from the past one month. Some call it India’s worst series in the last one decade whereas a few go to the extent of calling it India’s worst performance ever. Whatever the case, India cannot afford to slip further down, thereby doing injustice to the potential it possesses. Rahul Dravid rightly said that it might take half an hour to explain the team’s debacle and negatives in this series. But are there any positives too ?
Ishant Sharma’s form : With eleven wickets to his name, he wasn’t the most outstanding bowler in the series but his commitment and effort is something that is noteworthy. He was focussed on hitting the deck hard and kept trying although he wasn’t as effective as he was during the West Indies tour. Before the start of this tour, many expected Zaheer Khan to be India’s spearhead and Ishant Sharma to rally around him. Unfortunately, Zaheer’s injury compelled him to leave the tournament midway but Ishant Sharma fought valiantly. India has to look beyond Zaheer Khan now and Ishant Sharma appears to be the right man to lead India’s bowling attack in the coming years. However, Ishant needs to understand the importance of staying fit and be less prone to injuries.
Praveen Kumar’s attitude : He doesn’t generate a lot of pace but his swing bowling was a thorn in the flesh of the English batsmen. Praveen Kumar was India’s most successful bowler in the Test series with fifteen wickets to his name at an average of 29.53 and the only Indian bowler to get a five-wicket haul. He often offered resistance by contributing decently with the bat at the end. He kept coming at the English batsmen but couldn’t get much support from the other end, partially due to poor field placements that eased the pressure off the batsmen. He is an asset to this Indian team and promises to develop into a lethal bowler with every match he plays. Praveen Kumar, who is considered to be a street-smart cricketer, can be a motivator (in terms of bowling) to the future generation of Indian bowlers by providing useful insights.
Rahul Dravid’s heroics : Three centuries, a total of 416 runs in eight innings at an average of 76.83 in this series defines Rahul Dravid’s elegance, dominance and class. He was by far the most outstanding player and troubled the English bowlers endlessly on most occasions. The other Indian batsmen can possibly take a leaf out of Dravid’s book and build on important qualities such as his monk-like concentration and determination. Dravid’s stamina and hunger can be channeled effectively and his expertise can be used for a couple of years more and this can perhaps help India get close to the numero uno status again. Before this series, Rahul Dravid was India’s unsung hero and his efforts were often overshadowed. Now, India knows Rahul Dravid’s worth and the value he adds to the team. However, the big question remains – Who after Dravid ?
A jolt to the BCCI : Honestly, the BCCI didn’t see this coming. It ignored the fact that the players deserve a break. Rather than focusing on taking Indian cricket to the next level in terms of dominance, the BCCI chose to give higher priority to ‘entertainment’ by being actively involved in organizing meaningless domestic competitions ( read – Indian Premier League ). It ignored the game’s traditional format by neglecting important aspects such as player fitness, right mix, back-up bowlers and openers, selecting half-fit players and expecting them to perform exceptionally well no matter what. The BCCI should consider being more open and give additional importance to the opinions of the team’s physio and other support staff. A player’s word on his fitness shouldn’t be final. Also, the BCCI’s schedule planning is recondite. If the team is expected to perform despite a hectic schedule, physical fitness training methods must be given highest priority.
The number of Indian players getting injured throughout this tour was appalling. If the BCCI can learn from its mistakes and be more effective, it would do Indian cricket a world of good. Can this horrendous series be an eye-opener for BCCI and India ? Can this be a blessing in disguise that can put team India back on the right track ?