The disastrous Test series against England has sparked a raging debate in cricket circles and among fans in the country. No one expected India to be the number one Test team forever, but they did not expect the free-fall in such a pathetic manner, that too after the World Cup triumph at home.
Is it because, as Sunil Gavaskar put it: “The players were allowed to do what they pleased after the World Cup.” Or due to an overdose of cricket, or the lack of preparation for a big tour? There seemed to be a dash of arrogance in the Indian approach; a naïve ‘can do' attitude without properly sizing up the trying conditions that awaited them at Old Blighty.
The doomsayers are already predicting an Indian Test demise. The former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has predicted that it would take a long time before India can ever become a World No.1 again, given its woeful bowling attack.
Meanwhile, the former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly has termed the team's performance as the meekest in a decade, while the former captain, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi said that after a bit of noise, the BCCI will be back to normal business without addressing core issues. The Indian debacle would have a far-reaching effect on world cricket, felt the English batting legend, Geoffrey Boycott. He fears that the sponsors will get cold feet and his fears are justified as India is the biggest market for the game. A waning interest in India would certainly have an adverse impact on the game. No one wishes that to happen. Test matches separate the men from the boys and India has a rich tradition of Test cricket. A revival is possible if the board sincerely implements corrective measures.
Among key concerns, one area that the BCCI seriously needs to address is the blooding of youngsters into the Test team.
This Indian squad is perhaps the oldest squad in world cricket. Stars like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid (both 38), V.V.S, Laxman (36) are in the twilight zone, while Zaheer Khan (32), Dhoni (30) and Sehwag (32) are not getting and younger.
Where are the replacements as and when the time for change arrives? True, the BCCI has given breaks to youngsters, but it should refrain from the ‘pick and drop' policy. A longer stint should be given in Tests to players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Abhinav Mukund and M. Vijay. Give them time to grow and probably they might answer our prayers for a grand revival sooner than later.
Keywords: India's tour of England