The recent debacle of the Indian cricket test series against England has critics and pundits scrambling for answers.
The Indian team, which was selected to tour England, was the best and no one questioned the selectors about the competency of players or their ability. On paper everything looked fine as India hadn’t been whitewashed in a series since the tour of Australia in 1999/2000 and this team went into the series as the top-ranked side in the world.
When they lost the first test, many felt tiredness and not enough practice matches before the test were the factors and believed they would do better. Losing all the tests and the manner the Indians lost was beyond anyone’s guess.
I feel the Indian cricket board should look within themselves. They have put most of their thoughts and priorities to the Indian Premier League. Yes, the IPL brings revenue to the board and the players but endangers the reputation of the Indian team and the improvement of Indian test cricket.
The shift to IPL and 20/20 cricket has turned the focus away from Test Cricket. I thought that Indian cricket would benefit and improve from the exposure to foreign players in home ground and would highlight many young players. But the main focus has been money for all concerned.
The IPL tournament has changed the face and value of cricket not only in India but in the international cricket arena. The money the players make there has changed the attitude and commitment of international players to their own team. England has always taken test cricket seriously and this series proves that. The strategies and preparation for IPL is totally different from the Test series. Jumping from 20/20 to a Test series in a short time with the same players is a mammoth task. I also feel that the restriction of short balls in 20/20 cricket has changed the tactics of batting. In this series Indians got out to short-pitched balls and did not have a clue how to play them.
On the other hand the fitness of the players was huge. The present team won the World Cup and within a week played the IPL. They then travelled to the West Indies and then to England. Is it humanly possible to play, concentrate and give a hundred percent when the players go nonstop? The World cup win was all fine, in IPL the players made money and the West Indies tour they knew was not that tough. But England was a different cup of tea.
England’s team was better focused and prepared. The Indian team lacked concentration and team spirit. Due to too much cricket, they went through the motions during the entire series. Players’ talents can be transformed into victory only with full fitness, which is not only physical but mental too. What amazed me was that India scored 250 plus runs in 20/20 but could only amass 200 in an innings and suffered an innings defeat.
Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid and Dhoni are all top class cricketers and have shown their potential. Is it that they are reaching or have reached their pinnacle, with no chance of any improvement? Or have they become complacent and are accepting challenges to play for money only?
Whatever be the reason, their performance was way below acceptable standards. England showed in the same pitches their skill. They dominated in all aspects of the game and all the test matches. Even with their multiple talents, the Indian team failed consistently, which begs the question: should they be replaced by younger players?
The task of Indian cricket board is to look into the future of Indian cricket. They should find young talents and groom them and use the older players to coach them. The money which the players get for Test series should be matched with that of the IPL so that the players will concentrate more on the Test series. The board must ask itself is it willing to make the changes. We have witnessed here in the Caribbean that the West Indies Cricket Board members’ attitude can effect the cricket world. If India follows suits then the future is bleak for Indian cricket.