Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lions at home, mice abroad

Upset, dejected, disappointed, disturbed, saddened, depressed!!! 
I’m only looking at the best possible word that describes my state of mind. Rather, our state of mind. From what happened in the recent few years, I assumed, we are watching the rise of the Indian cricket. Now, I’m forced to believe it’s been a myth and my eyes lied all time.

When England bowled, the wicket appeared lively and the batsmen looked genuinely struggling, when India bowled the wicket appeared a docile batting deck. Phew… Anyways, all that we see now is not new. We have been thru this agony. Indians were always floored overseas. They were tagged “Lions at home, mice abroad”. However there used to be a saving grace performance of Tendulkar to cheer about. Even that goes missing now.

Though it is no different from what happened then, it is worth analyzing what makes it different now.
Actually, from the beginning of the century India started delivering improved results. Though a lot of credit goes to Ganguly leadership, in reality Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan all played English county some point of time during the last decade. Even the master played one season with Yorkshire. All those stints hugely helped these players to shape themselves and more less turned them a permanent fixture in the national team. More importantly the players spent the summer (usually off season in Indian Cricket) wisely improving their skill and technique in the foreign land. Indian team started winning Test Matches abroad.

So much happened in the last few years, India actually went to England as a champion side. It is a big turnaround for Indian Cricket and a proud moment for every Indian fan. Though the old time followers were skeptical, India was largely favored to seal the series if not a draw.

But, what do we witness?
India lost the first test because they could not bat another 25 overs. The second test was lost with a day left to play. In the third test, innings defeat looms large. With every growing day the gap between the two teams keep widening. The proud fans are witnessing the fall out.

It is shockingly bizarre. Is India such a bad team but overly hyped?
Never mind, it is what it is and time to do some reality check. Tendulkars, Laxmans, Dravids are not getting younger anymore. In truth, they are losing the ability to concentrate long and finding it challenging to consistently bat for sessions. Dravid dropping two regulation slip catches is a clear evidence for the lack of concentration. The way Big 3 went about in losing their wickets in this series demonstrates their lack of focus more than technique or temperament.

I actually don't wish to retrospect any further but move to the purpose of the article. On a positive note, this series is a true blessing in disguise to put the house back on order. Without a doubt all those Rohit Sharmas, Cheteshwar Pujaras, Virat Kohlis, Suresh Rainas, Murali Vijays, Ishanth Sharmas should be playing more for Worcestershire, Lancashire, Essex and Sussex than Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings or Royal Challengers to make an enduring career. It is time the kids don't be short sighted by the quick bucks of IPL.

I repeat, I’m definitely not against IPL as it provides a good platform for youngsters to rub shoulders with the stalwarts, support more youth to hog the limelight midst of icons. On top of this, it also brings a lot of money that encourage people to pursue a career in cricket. It is a well conceived concept. However, after every IPL we only witness a disaster from Team India in the international arena. In 2009 and 2010 India exited badly in the World T20. 2011 proves to be a nightmare in England. Wonder what is the FTP for India after 2012 IPL?

It is high time the administrators curtail the size of the tournament and make it sweet for 3 weeks. This way the enthusiasm of the audience stay alive and the players stay fresh for national duties thereafter. Also the kids playing in the shortest format are keen to play the cuts and pulls and don't bother to defend or play to the merit of the ball. The bowlers don't care to learn the artistry or guile but focus on firing so as they don't get smacked out of the ropes. As a result, all of this very much reflects in the longer format of the game. Three and half hours of fun causes way too much damage. Trust me, there are millions of kids watching this gala, aspiring to become a cricketer someday, is surely learning the fundamental wrong.

Finally, the international schedule is so grueling that the national stars forget playing domestic cricket. It has become more or less a unwritten script that once you make the cut to the national side, playing domestic is optional than priority.

Going forward it is important the administrator’s control the amount of matches played in the year so as the sport doesn’t become overdose for the fans. Providing enough breaks between games & series, playing few more warm up matches during the tours helps in better preparation.

Mind you this is not American Football, where the game is only native to the country. This is a global sport and whole world is keeping a close watch on you. Poor overseas tours are not a good advertisement and reflect bad on administration considering talent is abundant. Already stadiums hosting Test Matches in India wear a deserted outfit. Now the embarrassing performances overseas are only going to lose the followers. And then the Tendulkar retirement would be last nail in the coffin.  

It will then be hard to sell the game to bring back the revenue. Time to wake up before it is too late. Also the right moment to let go the crown. The agony will ensure issues are addressed immediately. If Ganguly turned an ordinary team to a good team, Dhoni very much has the ability to turn a good side to a great side. Finally, when the crown returns, the authenticity isn't debated. That also means India should not prepare a dust bowl, floor the Barmy Army, seek the revenge, take back the crown. That does not help Indian Cricket.

Bottom line: Time to revisit the system.

Cricket Lover

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