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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Can Indian cricket turn the tides?

Finding a long-lost friend is like finding a lost treasure, and as I was basking in the glory of finding such a treasure that shared the bench-strength of our inimitable Santhome School X1 that conquered all the trophies that possibly could have been lifted, in came the black and bleak India – England test series. The shambolic performance of the Indians had already left many a fan high and dry. This long-lost friend was himself a fantastic all-rounder, who could bowl those stinging leg-cutters with such panache that batsmen had to be told that one of their bails was missing. He could pelt the ball around, and could even graft his way to play the anchor role with the bat, as he did wield his willow to good purpose. His tigerish prowls on the outfields had even yielded better results for me as when I had to roll-over my arms to deliver those second-class off breaks.

Such was his potentials, though he failed to make it big on the Indian cricketing scene.

Our email conversations had immediately swerved its way to cricket, and I was quick to query him as to the reasons behind the Indian debacle. Expecting a one-liner, I sat back and waited for his reply. Love for the game continues to rule this friend, as he came out with some idyllic measures that could prevent the Indian team from stooping to such low levels and register such lackluster performances. The Indian cricket team, at present, has incurred the wrath of millions, who were keen to see the team ride the crest of the winning streak furthermore. But my friend was pretty sure that Indian cricket will never take the West Indian way!

What were the measures that he suggested?

1. Time that Indian team played three practice matches before the start of a test series on a foreign soil, with the matches turning out to be a three-day affair, primarily to get used to the conditions before taking the big litmus test.

2. Possibly, have a third opener in the playing X1 who could be playing at number 6 to get the better of the twenty overs of the second new ball. This would come in handy at places like S. Africa, England and Australia.

3. Prepare wickets in India like the ones that were laid in the late 70’s at Chennai, which did help the bowlers to bowl at the ribs of the batsmen. With most of the Indian batsmen susceptible to the short-pitched stuff, this could be the right way to come out of this jinx.

4. Breed a genuine all-rounder, who could prop up the middle-order and could be handy with the ball too, as in the case of Amit Mishra who outclassed the master, Sachin, during his stay at the crease at Oval. May be a Ravi Shastri in the making, as per my friend.

5. Spin bowling, which has been the backbone of our bowling attack for a long time has taken a severe beating, with no quality spinners available on the horizon. Romp in the services of Warne or Kumble at NCA as spin consultants to nurture and groom top quality spinners. This is sure to strengthen the cause for the five-bowlers-strategy for tests.

6. Have separate teams for test, one-day and the twenty-twenty matches.

My friend did miss out on other factors that bung a spanner into the works of the Indian team at England. Quality rest eluded the Indian cricketers, where they were hopping from one place to another to meet their schedules. The players were literally going through their motions rather than enjoying their stint at the ground. There was no third opener for this series, and the team didn't sound cohesive to bring out a spirited performance. M.S. Dhoni, for the first time, was out of his wits, and came a cropper in the end.

I could not fall in line with my friend’s thought concerning the all-rounder who could spin the opponents out of a match and who could pile up runs at a brisk pace, for, at this point in time, we need someone in the caliber of Kaps, who could mesmerize the opponents with his swing bowling, and who could bat the opponents out of a match!