From Reflections to a Reniassance: Indian Cricket’s Road Ahead

Posted: October 27, 2011 by thecognitivenomad in Cricket, India Cricket, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

October 27, 2011

It is now apparent that the year 2011 will be remembered for symmetrical disasters, focusing two nations that destructed the enemy on their own soils. Both these nations were made to portray a political peacock, powerless to manage their own vanities away from home.

The shift in cricketing super powers, of late, is happening at a rate unseen in cricket before. History will depict clearly that when the British Empire started entering its period of decline, the West was waiting, and ready, to take over the role of attaining global supremacy. It is about getting your best resources ready, as my colleague Goutham Chakravarthi pointed out in his recent article, with the best laid plans to counter your enemy and ascend to the top.

The 5-0 whitewash of England, a score line that would flatter any Indian fan when he goes through the scorecards some day in the future, paints a picture of a team that simply wasn’t ready to build its fortresses in stone as it travels across the world. But the bigger question remains: will the tilt in scales assist India in carving a path to supremacy that they had against their names, in the form of ICC Rankings, until a few months ago?

A lot would depend on how these ‘resources’ are handled. Time and again, the renowned cliché of great sides having great bowling units that can take 20 wickets, has come to haunt the Indians and impose a harsh reality check against this aspect of their supremacy. The long renowned criticism was that centric around the Indian bowlers lacking in pace, a theory whose hypothesis was proven recently by Zaheer Khan’s postulates on the inability of Indian players’ bodies not being designed to bowl fast.

Zaheer had raised a few eyebrows with his Theory on Indian Fast Bowlers

As farcical as this might sound to a few, especially when India’s neighbors to the Northwest churn our products that who are quick, Zaheer’s theory has a fundamental flaw. Historically, Indian fans have witnessed young, exciting talent who enter the arena with commendable speeds only to find that with time, their speeds decay exponentially to embarrassing levels. Likewise, genuine swing bowlers who’ve attempted to bowl fast to exclude themselves from this bracket of embarrassing entities have lost their art, almost mysteriously.

But any Indian fan would welcome the sight of a bowler who can put Zaheer’s theory to rest. After all, if neutrinos have suddenly emerged to question the validity of Einstein’s theories – that were based on the fact that particles that travel faster than light practically cannot exist – some bowlers could opt for the neutrino route to travel back in time and make Zaheer eat his words. After all, physics and cricket do mix – remember why the ball swings?

When Ishant Sharma was at his rampant best, during the tour of Australia back in 2008, I recall Harsha Bhogle making a statement along the lines of, “If anyone advises this kid to reduce his speed so that he sustain for longer periods in international cricket without being a victim of injuries, we’ll have to snap their hands off.”  I couldn’t have agreed with him more, and unfortunately, our worst fears came true.

The inherent drawbacks of having men in cricketing bodies across the country, mainly politicians and businessmen unqualified to run cricket, the sport revives itself in the worst possible way – similar to how the current Congress government has inflicted damage to the nation: the poor and the middle class will pay, in eternity, for the numerous sins of the powerful.  

So, can these resources be ready for war if the number of brick walls to climb internally is aplenty? If there are larger interests ahead that deviate the focus away from the core values of the sport, will it be reasonable for a fan to hope for an extended run at the top of the rankings? Yes, I know India has just whitewashed England at home, but I’d still like to think that England’s own flaws had a greater bearing on the result than India’s brilliance, which, I of course do not doubt.

With a challenging tour to Australia fast approaching, India can take a leaf out of England’s Ashes preparation last winter – a factor whose absence qualified (and quantified) India’s miserable display in England earlier this year. It might make a lot of sense to start afresh and build gradually on success, forgetting the fact that India were world beaters, if I may use the term, until not too long ago.

The platform now seems particularly ripe for a plan that can provide sufficient insurance to the impressive young crop of players who’ve done so well during the absence of the seniors. Aberrant errors, such as the simple case of including/calling A Mithun for a test match in the West Indies and not considering him as a replacement for the injured seamers during the tour of England, and ironically flying in RP Singh based on his 2007 series reputation need to be avoided.

Fortunately, the ideas for the platform have already been laid during the tenure of Gary Kirsten. Kirsten’s success as Indian coach is mainly attributed to his understanding of the Indian culture – one in which sensitivities played a very important role. Kirsten also saw the unprecedented need for psychological counseling for players who survived horrific spells of inconsistency/lack of form in the middle – for, the dynamics of the game had changed to such a great extent that the pool of players to choose from became so large, whereas the time a player got to showcase his potential was a matter of a few games.

Virat Kohli, with his rapidly rising run tally and maturity, with an extended run in Test Cricket can become a fulcrum of the Next Gen Middle Order

The case discussed earlier could’ve also dented the confidence of RP Singh, who’d have probably been more surprised than anyone else on his call-up, given the fact that he hadn’t played a first class game since January. Such cases, with a hint of a double-edged swordness about them, have buried the careers of a number of talented cricketers who have been victims of poor decision making.

What Indian cricket needs to build on requires the skill of a movie director – role play. Harsha Bhogle had spoken on this earlier, and if it wasn’t evident back then, it is evident right now. If this approach isn’t taken downstream, the absence of the cusp would mandate an explanation. This is very unlikely to materialize during the build up to the Australian tour, given the fact that all the senior players would play a role in the starting XI – given that this might be their last series down under.

But if the names don’t change, at least the structure can. Back the quickies and give the younger batsmen an extended run. Most crucially, eliminate the bottlenecks. Now that is where the trouble begins.

  1. Well written. Indian cricket’s problem now seems to be the presence of seniors who think that “if i cannot,then no Indian can do it”. Zaheer’s words about fast bowling and Dhoni’s words about containing the batsman reflect this.Even Sehwag was talking about Glen Mcgrath being a world class bowler despite being not super fast. Sight of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aoron bowling at 130Kmph will be the biggest shock for any Indian cricket fan.With the current mindset of the team management, it looks very much possible.

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