The English who recently beat us black and blue at home had no one who could have survived an hour on a turning track against any of our Ranji spinners of the seventies, leave alone our Test bowlers.
Of late cricket in general has dropped in standards, the wickets are predictable, helmets and protection have neutralised the speedster, our spinners no longer spin the ball and our present day batsman continue to make batting such a challenge. Why?
Now and then
Am I wrong in assuming that a professional cricketer of today is in it for money whilst the amateur of the past played for the love of the sport?
Or that the professional is for himself whilst the amateur was for his team?
Or that a professional has his own personal agent who brings in the moolah whilst the amateur survived of a meagre salary, living on cricket alone?
Or whilst our professional of today flounders on easy wickets, the amateur would go out onto a blood-soaked wicket, and on an uneven surface with the ball flying past his un-helmeted head, he held one end up whilst his country brimmed with pride?
Or that whilst a flash in the pan innings takes the professional through to the next series, a reckless shot would get the amateur dropped from the side? Or whilst a professional goes out modelling on the day of an India-Pakistan T20 match, the amateur would have been at the ground practicing?
If the reasons for our dismal cricket lie hidden in such lame excuses, don’t we have someone competent enough to correct it?
Way of life
Cricket was always there to be cherished and enjoyed. It was a way of life in which one lost himself in the quest for perfection. Since WG Grace, cricket was never to be played for money and life in this world had no place for sponsors and bookies and that’s why cricket produced geniuses like Sobers and Richards.
Agreed one had to do the usual yes sir, no sir to the administrators and the selectors and one had to shake ones head every time that the secretary of the association showed you how to play a cover drive, never having played it himself.
The amateur had to do all that but there was nobody else to bow to. There were no owners to suck up to, no agents fixing appointments.
The good old days have changed and the Board appears to be in sync with these changes.
Bone of contention
The major bone of contention is the lure of the T20. A professional is interested in money and the best method to such easy and quick funds is the T20 circus.
Take a ride on it for a few years and the professional is set for life.
But sadly whenever the professional sets out with such goals in mind he forgets to imbibe the most fundamental aspect of cricket, technique that will stand him in good when the going gets tough, especially in Test cricket.
Over time T20 cricket has seduced the most talented players, world-beaters in their own right, to an average nothing. Indian talent that made us the number one team once is being sucked dry of its technical competence by the lure of the booty available in the wham-bam-thank-you-maam T20 cricket.
Timely help needed
Under normal circumstances, coaches take a youngster and mould his instinct into technique through instilling basic fundamentals in him. Once his technique is formed the player moves on to a higher level. It’s at this level that he starts to flounder without proper and timely help, advice much needed to sustain consistent performance.
It is time that spinners have access continually to seniors, right through their career. Similarly batsmen must have a batting think-tank of players of the calibre of Rahul Dravid travelling with them in order for them to stay on top of the game.
One of the best interviews that I saw was of Dravid explaining how to counteract late swing. I have never heard an Indian batsman explain it with such simplicity. Simplicity in which lay his genius.
To sum it up, all I can is that consistency can only be found in the proper worship of cricket and not of money.