The knives are out. Not surprising in our country where we are keen to worship victory and only the victors. Nothing less than a win is expected from our cricket team. To us cricketers are machines and the selectors made us believe good amount of money paid to cricketers must churn out sure-wins. The performing captain Dhoni made us believe that we will never lose the top rating in the ICC team ranking.
One basic fault with cricketers is the pride they take in performing for the country. They ought to have realised after the 2007 World Cup fiasco that they represent a nation which adores only winners.
Did anyone bother to observe that the international cricketers are contracted with the BCCI and are highly paid to play when their employers want them to play without a murmur?
When England played only 16 Tests and 17 ODIs in the last calendar year, we played 19 Tests and 23 ODIs plus the vast number of IPL matches in the gruelling heat.
The England coach didn’t let his players play either IPL or county matches. The sport in that country runs on the philosophy of meticulous planning and effective strategy management. We were naïve not to realise the World Cup victory could drain out our players mentally and physically.
England planned to perfection right from choosing the Duke balls from an earlier batch of manufacturing to practising with specific stratagem designed for each Indian batsman.
Douglas Jardine made sure Harold Larwood was ready to put his Bodyline theory in practise in 1932-33. Len Hutton let loose Frank Tyson on Australians in the 1954-55 Ashes series. Andy Flower, a shrewd coach, followed the same plan and with the help from bowling coach David Saker planned the downfall of each Indian batsman to perfection.
While England used man hours to optimise its potential, we didn’t give time to the team management to work on boys. From January to May the Indians played with the white ball. Did we ever bother to realise the big difference between white and red balls?
Since white balls swing less, batsman hardly struggles. Red balls are a case study for aerodynamics. Red ball swings all the time. All the inexperienced lot in the Indian team played with white balls continuously for five months.
White ball with black sightscreens and red ball with white sightscreens make a big difference while sighting the ball. Whereas England practically gave up the white ball after the World Cup, we overlooked this very important detail.
Some of the Indian players were unfit and undergoing treatment at the NCA. Did the highly-paid selectors visit the NCA to check the fitness level of Zaheer Khan and Sehwag? They didn’t. This game doesn’t bother about the names however big they may be. It’s game of high quality skills and mental toughness.
We ignored the fact that the workload on aging cricketers was taking its toll. For close to two years they have all fought manfully to put us in the No. 1 position. Perhaps we have lost Zaheer Khan forever.
LEAVE IT TO LILLEE
The Australia tour is looming large on us. To select genuine quick bowlers and hand them over to Dennis Lillee seems to be the only solution.
Lillee knows what it takes to bowl fast and that too on Australian pitches. Let Lillee work on the fast bowlers. He has been coaching at the MRF Pace Foundation for two decades and he knows the psyche of Indian fast bowlers.
Gary Kirsten was lucky to have fit and experienced players. Fletcher will have to build the team from scratch. Unless the BCCI appoints Anil Kumble as the team mentor, the future of the Indian cricket looks bleak. Hindu