The Great Indian Dream Over
Image Courtsey: cricinfo.com
So that’s it then. India is out of the world cup after being defeated by Sri Lanka for 69 runs. It would be a time of reflection and introspection. The team needs to be rebuilt and Indian cricket in general has a lot of rebuilding to do. And please let’s not go and vandalize their homes and engage in petty public posturing, although it would be wise for the Indian team not to come back to the country straight away. There is a chance that India could still go through if a miracle occurs (read Bermuda beating Bangladesh), but the saddest truth of it all is that we were not good enough to deserve going to the next round.
Was this unexpected? If the Indian fans were to answer honestly they would say no. And it would seem from their body language that the Indian team did not believe in itself. Even though the team was able to cover up its inadequacies with some good performances at home, they had always struggled in the last one year. It was very clear to see that the Indians were yet to recover from their defeat against Bangladesh. There was a very palpable sense of fear in the way the Indians approached this match. Much as Sri Lanka, my favorite to win the cup, played brilliantly Indian batting was equally pathetic.
This is where the coach’s role needs to be questioned. Agreed the coach doesn’t have a direct hand to play in the events on field. But definitely it is the coach’s job to make the players believe in themselves. This was not the case. It is the coach’s job to make the fitness if not the fielding better. This was also not the case and it was never expected to. I have always believed that most of the criticisms against Chappell were unwarranted. But when a coach who took over with the sole purpose of doing well at the world cup, and whose various experiments were indulged with in the hope that it would help the team do well at the competition, only to see them dumped out of it in the first round itself… well criticism is inevitable.
Image Courtsey: cricinfo.com
Dravid’s captaincy has been disappointing to say the least. He seemed to be following a set pattern and incapable of adapting to the situation. The much celebrated batting line up too should share bulk of the burden. Tough decisions need to be taken. Places in the side should be based on merit and not on past performances. If the great players feel that they are being given a raw deal then let them prove their worth in domestic cricket and come back. Dravid was not able to motivate the players. He has not able to galvanize the team into a single unit. And he along with the coach has to take responsibility for that.
But keep in mind the trinity of Sachin, Sourav and Dravid are not getting younger. It is for them to decide the timing of their retirement from the game. It has to happen sooner or later. And the sooner we start grooming the youngsters the better. If we don’t have enough talent out there then at least instill in them some fighting spirit. Matches are not won by talent alone. Bangladesh and the Australian team of 1987 are testament to that.
Another big concern to me right now is Sachin Tendulkar. I have always been a huge fan of Tendulkar. I have always stuck up to people asking him to be sacked. This is why it was disappointing to see him play the way he did in this world cup. He just doesn’t seem to be there mentally. He has to sit down and assess if he still has the hunger in him. If not retirement at least take a break from the game and start from scratch. There is no disgrace in taking a step backward to reassess one’s strengths. But it is belittling his own achievements and reputation if he continues to play this way.
Image Coutsey: zeenews.com
The BCCI too is responsible for this debacle. This is a result of the board’s lack of vision in developing the game at the grass roots. It is all fine that the board makes money, but the focus shouldn’t just be on balance sheets. The money gained from the sport should be spent in improving the infrastructure and ability of the players. The Ranji league needs to be revamped and the number of competing teams reduced thereby reducing the number of matches. Only then will we have quality players playing each other regularly. The pitches need to have more variety so that they have the technique to counter any condition. Right now our batting line up is too full of blind bashers who come up copper when playing on a pitch that offers even the slightest of assistance to the bowler.
There couldn’t have been a bigger blow to this world cup commercially than the exit of India and Pakistan. But then again for a World Cup reeling under an avalanche of controversies and scandals this would seem like just another thing that went horribly wrong.
Indian cricket is facing a crisis and it would be better if all involved gets up and smell the coffee before its too late.