24 December 2012
After the initial euphoria of winning the first Test at Ahmedabad, India was completely outplayed in the next 3 Tests by England and the series ended 2-1 in favour of England. Currently Indian cricket is at its nadir and the only silver lining is the fact that there is no other way but up. They have been so outplayed in Tests over the last 18 months that their defeat at home at the hands of a good English side seems in hindsight only inevitable. But for the Indian cricket fan the performance of the Indian team is frustratingly inadequate and reeks of indifference from their spoilt top cricketers.
The main reason for India’s dismal performance was the inability of the current Indian spinners to bowl well consistently over a long period of time. Welcome to Test cricket! This is not a Twenty-20 circus or even a one-dayer – this is Test cricket and the main requirement for this type of cricket is consistent effort at a high level over all of 5 days. Our current day cricketers are falling alarmingly short on playing the longer version of the game.
Twenty-20 has a role on the cricketing landscape without a doubt. But when the whole cricketing apparatus becomes slave to this form of the game, then it adversely impacts on the long version of the game. Young cricketers of today from India are more interested in bashing a few sixes into the stands, or give away the least number of runs in 4 overs – and think that they are great cricketers. The lure of quick money and quick fame goes to their collective heads.
India is the only country currently where Twenty-20 is played for sickeningly high stakes. This has clearly adversely affected the quality of young cricketers being churned out by the system. This rot has to be stemmed and pronto. If Indian cricket officials do not take corrective action to somehow curtail the impact of Twenty-20 then they might as well give away playing Test cricket. Test cricket fans will not tolerate this complete indifference and lack of application from young cricketers for too long.
That English spinners were able to bowl much better than the Indian pretenders is by far too hard to swallow for the Indian cricket fans. On top of that Indian batsmen showed complete lack of application or the grit and skill that is required to play long innings. So it was a failure in all quarters of the team – a great team effort indeed!
On the other hand English batsmen showed great skill in playing for long periods of time with superior patience and application. The pitches seemed to suit Monty Panesar’s fastish spin and he probed away with a lot of precision. And Graeme Swann is a fantastic spinner under any circumstance and Anderson was magnificent under trying conditions for fast bowling. Cook led the way in batting and is fast becoming one of England’s great batsmen. Pietersen lived up to his promise and Trott and Bell also proved their worth.
There was no redeeming feature for India. I am not sure whether Ashwin is a Test quality bowler. He has been ineffective over the last many series and bowls with complete lack of imagination, although he seems to have a bagful of tricks. Spin bowling is all about setting up a batsman and that requires imaginative planning and high class execution – and I am sure current Indian spinners are not capable of this. Ohja needs a second chance and maybe Chawla needs to be nurtured. But really the spin cupboard is bare of quality spinners.
And its best we don’t speak about the quality of the Indian pacemen. India has never had a fearsome fast bowling unit. Some medium pacers have done well under some circumstances over the years after Kapil. But India probably has the most innocuous and toothless fast bowling attack and oppositions plunder them for plenty. This is the main reason why India does not win a lot of Test matches.
Also the team is led by a skipper who does not understand Test cricket. His do-nothing strategy at times is just too much to take. He might seem to be a cool captain in one-dayers and T-20s when there is frenzied activity, but his coolness in Test cricket is frustratingly paralytic and shows complete lack of imagination.
Well, like I said we can only expect India to go up as they have gone as far down as possible – or have they?