Cricket in India is not a sport that teaches you how to win and how not to lose. Cricket in India is all about our heroes some of whom are given the status of God. But this is as long as the team is performing. Once it stops performing, we get to watch and read weird reactions from a growing number of critics who supposedly are passionate about the game.
Two losses in Tests in Australia and the Indian team is being attacked with venom by reputed former international cricketers and many others. All sorts of allegations are thrown at the team and yet we expect it to win the next two Tests. Suddenly we find everything wrong with Dhoni's captaincy and the batting techniques of Dravid and Laxman.
No longer are we willing to accept that Sehwag just can't change his game after 94 Tests and 8,000 runs. Oh, why can't he move his feet? Why should he slash when a gully fielder is deeper? Will Sehwag have answers to these questions?
When Gundappa Viswanath was advised early in his Test career to stop playing square-cuts to fast bowlers, all he said was ‘I will have to give up the game because all my life I have been playing that shot'. He went on to play some breathtaking knocks like the unbeaten 97 when India was eight down for 52 against the formidable West Indies attack in 1974 at Chepauk. He was bisecting the field at will, short-circuiting captain Clive Lloyd's moves.
The biggest mistake Dhoni's Indian team made was winning the World Cup. The burden of expectations of emotionally charged cricket lovers became a bit heavier. Little do these people understand that the World Cup was of 50 overs (300 balls) and a Test match is of 450 overs (2700 balls).
Ideally, had the Indians played Tests against the West Indies instead of one-dayers before leaving for Australia, it may have helped, because our players would have been in Test match mode. Being in a Test match mode is one thing and going two weeks earlier to Australia and practising on bowling machines is another.
Though one may not agree with Tendulkar's 100th ton being an object of distraction apart from he getting pressurised, the newly married couples and whole lot of families with children on tour have certainly been a distraction. That is why most of the foreign team managements allow certain days for the families on a tour.
In a team game getting together of players every evening and their off-the-field interactions are very important. If that slot is taken away by the families, players will get to meet each other only while boarding and alighting the team bus, because once the game starts a player is left to himself, thinking about his role which he should have discussed in the evening with his colleagues.
It does seem contractual clauses have clipped the wings of Duncan Fletcher, who literally ruled English county cricket when he was England coach. He is totally out of control. If he allows a son of a cricketer to practice with the team, he is not the Fletcher that we have heard of. It's time for him to be what he is known for. He is here to produce results and not work on compromises.