Peter Roebuck

Gary Kirsten's remark that he is fitter than some of the younger players under his wing was both a tribute to his own stamina and a condemnation of a generation supposed to step into the shoes of the outstanding group that has served with such distinction for 15 years.

If the coach is correct these fellows are not fit to lace those boots. Nor did it help that the usual suspects were involved in a commotion at a night club in the Caribbean.

An appeal

Plain as day, the comment was a cry from the heart, an appeal to the community to curb the self-indulgence that has taken hold and to get back to work.

In some ways it's easier for younger cricketers these days because they are wealthy beyond imagination and flattered more than a medieval monarch. In some ways, though, it is harder because focus can be lost before the deed has been done let alone greatness achieved.

Apparently Viv Richards has offered his services as an advisor capable of showing these batsmen how to handle fast bowling.

Expert advice

Richards was a fearless batsman but Sunil Gavaskar and the current seniors also have impressive records against pace. Together they destroyed the notion that Indian batsmen are timid. If these youths are looking for guidance they need only open their mouths or eyes. But is the problem technical or mental?

Better advised

India might be better advised seeking the services of Sir Alex Ferguson, a manager used to dealing with gifted young sportsmen whose lives have changed beyond recognition almost overnight.

After all he has helped Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo unleash their exceptional talents and at the same time kept them more or less on track.

Over the last ten years soccer has become the global game and Premier League matches attract a vast international audience. It is a people's game, a ranking cricket rightly respects and craves.

Although the clubs themselves are heavily in debt, or else sustained by Russian oligarchs, the top players are paid a fortune a month.

Many of them, too, come from humble backgrounds and in a trice are surrounded by agents, bodyguards, financial advisors, beautiful girls, contracts, hangers on and so forth.

It's a heady world and without wise mentoring and a strong club culture it's likely to lead to headstrong ways. India needs a Ferguson. Might not Anil Kumble fit the bill?

India's rising players might also reflect on the words of a 15 year old boy attending a soccer academy in Ivory Coast.

Talking to the BBC, Charles Silue spoke about his love of the game and his hopes of playing at the highest level.

And then he added something telling. “Many young African players think about money,” he observed, “But here we're taught to think differently, to be respectful and concentrate on our objective. Football is my passion. The money will follow.”

It goes without saying that the Ivory Coast Academy is the most productive in the region and amongst the best in the world. That its facilities are rudimentary matters not a jot.

Attitude counts

Shiv Chanderpaul learnt to bat amongst fishing nets, India's captain studied the game in a school yard in Ranchi, Mohammed Yousuf's dad swept floors in a train station, Bill O'Reilly emerged from White Cliffs where, so they say, the birds fly backwards to avoid getting dust in their eyes! And was Shivaji Park such a cosy place at dawn?

Facilities have never mattered half as much as attitude. Silue's words ought to be pinned on every board in every dressing-room everywhere. The man who cheats his talent ultimately cheapens himself.

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