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Updated: May 15, 2010 01:22 IST

India was lame and tame

Peter Roebuck
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THE TRIERS: Except for Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina, the performance of the Indian team in the ICC World Twenty20 lacked energy and calibre.
FILE PHOTO THE TRIERS: Except for Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina, the performance of the Indian team in the ICC World Twenty20 lacked energy and calibre.

India's wretched performance in the Caribbean was a rude awakening. Defeat is part of any game but sometimes its manner is so telling that a strong response is required.

For the second time in a few weeks, India has been forced to undergo a period of severe self scrutiny and for a second time it ought to welcome the opportunity.

Pampered millionaires

Make no mistake, it was a doleful display telling of laziness and inadequacy. Plain and simple: half the team is over-rated and a few big names ought to be ditched. It was a performance lacking energy and calibre. India was lame and tame.

The fielding was dreadful, the bowling was wayward and the batting was inept. Only a few players survived the examination. The rest looked like pampered millionaires more interested in sweets than sweat.

And let's not listen to any idle excuses about pitches or parties. Players are not forced to stay up all night whilst the tracks in the Caribbean were superbly suited to rewarding the genuine. Better to acknowledge the scale of the defeat, examine its causes and seek immediate remedies.

An ambitious community does not tolerate the sort of incompetence produced by these supposedly elite players.

To my mind, the existence of IPL lay behind the calamity. Dealing with the ramifications of IPL has taken India into uncharted waters and so far the navigation has been faulty. Actually, the tournament itself is not to blame but rather the players' responses to the celebrity cult that surrounds it.

Everyone has heard about the parties and the gambling and the adoration. Only the most grounded and experienced players are not caught up in the euphoria.

Impressionable youngsters from impoverished backgrounds are likely to be swept along. So are socialites more interested in glamour than grit. And every excess pushes cricket a little further into the back of the mind. How to wake up early for a run after hitting the sack at dawn? Whither the emerging generation?

Cricketers have never been monks. Over the years many have either backed fillies or chased them, and most have emerged unscathed. Now, though, the parties are lasting longer than the matches. Apparently, too, many of life's temptations are available to IPL players before stumps have been drawn.

Fantasy

Suddenly a player can be famous, fawned and wealthy before he has encountered the hard truths of the game. He can attend a camp, catch an eye, hit a couple of sixes, send down a few fliers and be offered a fat contract. It's a fantasy.

Application, listening to masters, learning to play off both feet and landing the ball on a rupee coin hardly seemed to matter. It's all old hat, isn't it? And then Shaun Tait marks out his run, or Kevin Pietersen takes guard. It's always a mistake to neglect the basics.

India's soft underbelly has been exposed. Nor is it enough to talk in comforting generalities. Yuvraj Singh has been an abysmal fieldsman and sporadic batsmen for years. Certainly he has been plagued by injuries but it's time to call him to account.

Ravindra Jadeja was a passenger in the field and little better with the leather. Yusuf Pathan prospered so long as the ball was pitched up.

Raina, the exception

Amongst the supposedly emerging batsmen, only Suresh Raina looked fit and fertile. The rest ought to undertake a stringent fitness regime and spend months working hard in the nets.

Nor was the bowling up to scratch. Harbhajan Singh did his utmost but his comrades were all over the place.

India has been blessed with an exceptional group of senior players. Now the time has come to educate their successors.

More In: Cricket | Sport

Don't make IPL as an excuse to this. Players like Mahela Jayawardane, Kevin Peterson and many others played well in IPL as well as in T20. If you got problems with IPL opt out of it.

from:  Abhishek Goel
Posted on: May 24, 2010 at 17:58 IST

First wrong comment from you Mr. Roebuck - "Yuvraj Singh has been an abysmal fieldsman and sporadic batsmen for years". Couldn't be further from the truth. As for the "pampered millionaires" perspective, let's remember that it is because this group plays such great cricket that they became millionaires in the first place. We didn't pick on a lame losing bunch and give them a lot of money for fun. Dhoni has no reason to unnecessarily blame the distractions for the losses. The board seems to think that just being out of injury is the definition of being fit. It is having extra energy when needed and being fresh that is needed to win at the big level. Let's stop this tirade asking for big changes to the team. This is more or less the SAME team that stands #1 in Test rankings and #2 in ODIs. India stands 134 in the Human Development Index. So, let's solve some real problems and let our best boys sort this out by themselves. By the way, what is wrong with money motivating performances? It is true the IPL pays more, so what is wrong with playing better in the IPL? It is after all the INDIAN Premier League, and it has grown tremendously and we're all proud of it, so what?

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: May 20, 2010 at 11:30 IST

Amidst all the frenzy..we are missing the obvious fact that India lacks much more in bowling than batting...even Australia couldn't recover from a poor start...so thats ok...but they had 3 genuine pacers for back up...we don't...that's what let us down..players need to show a lot more grit.

from:  avinash
Posted on: May 20, 2010 at 01:47 IST

Money motivated the players at IPL, playing for the nation does not as much for these pampered younger generation..

from:  Maazmai
Posted on: May 18, 2010 at 04:00 IST

Indian players were so tired after IPL that they could not play their natural game.

from:  M K JANA
Posted on: May 16, 2010 at 07:55 IST

Peter:

It is always educational reading your observations on the Indian cricket-goings on.

You have rightly mentioned that money is dazzling and it blinds the ordinaries among players. Also, many players are over rated.

from:  sundar
Posted on: May 15, 2010 at 19:33 IST

Very well said Raina and Bhajji were only two who tried their level best and rest took it lightly as if defeat does not harm them or they are playing gully cricket.
Yuvraj was abysmal at some point of time; now injuries has leveled down his performance,his commitment is not there he was sometimes lathargic on the boundry.
As far as yusuf is concerned give him chance because he is good with the ball and promote him up the order and see wether he performs there,if he does keep him with the team otherwise sack him,because i personally feel that he(yusuf) has not been given enough time to settle,he just has to come and throw his bat and this is the reason he is cought on the bondries.
Rohit Sharma can also be spared he should also be given chances.
Dhoni sould be sacked from the post of captainship.
Bowling department have to be looked into.

from:  Satish Sharma
Posted on: May 15, 2010 at 08:05 IST

We, the fans of cricket, the people of India, are the ones to blame. We pamper and idolize these inept cricketers. There is no more talent, no more patriotism, only money, fame, stardom, and politics

from:  Shiva
Posted on: May 15, 2010 at 07:56 IST

I completely agree with Peter. This is a very BIG wake up. India better shape up. In a way, it is good India got exposed in T20 instead of in the tests or the ODIs. Coach Gary Kirsten must discipline all the unfit, shapeless players and drop them. India can do better without them absolutely, other wise the slide in Tests and ODIs will be so fast and quick, India will soon find herself in the bottom of both rankings. Then what a collapse it will be from the top to the bottom within a year. No Inidan fan want to see that. So the coach must act sternly immediately. Also I won't listen to what Tendulkar has to say.

from:  Raj
Posted on: May 15, 2010 at 05:16 IST
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