The heart bleeds after the Indian cricket team has been mauled for the seventh successive time in an overseas Test cricket but the mind must stay calm and analyse the slide that has hurt, upset, disappointed and angered us. It is only a sport and we have to hope that Indian cricket will come out of the morass that it finds itself in at the moment.
Yes, India’s woeful showing in overseas Tests needs to be addressed but let us not incite passion in doing so. It is critical that we remain collected as we sit down to find solutions to some problems that the Indian team is so obviously facing now. It is important not to become a part of the cacophony that follows each such defeat.
Let us remember that when the team was picked and when some cricketers left for Australia before the rest of the side to acclamatise themselves with the conditions Down Under, without exception, everyone said that this Indian side had the best chance to win a series in Australia.
Sadly, the team management did not respond to some signs that became obvious in the first two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney. For instance, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag’s inability to provide the team with a good start should have made the tour selectors seek options. VVS Laxman’s failures called for a harsh decision, too.
It may be a good idea to have Ajinkya Rahane or Rahul Dravid open the innings in Adelaide with Gambhir so that Sehwag can bat at No. 5. It will allow not only Sehwag the chance to play an attacking innings after the ball loses its shine but also be the first steps towards building a middle-order that is capable of taking over from giants like Dravid and Laxman.
It is important to let the likes of Rahane and Rohit Sharma gain the experience of playing Test cricket in Australia. Together with Virat Kohli, it can be expected that they will figure in Test cricket for some years now. It may not be the ideal situation for India to have few players with the experience of playing in Australia when it travels there next.
Of course, there has been some stinging criticism of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy, particularly with respect to his field placing. It does appear to his critics that he can’t seem to do anything right at the moment. I am not among those who believe that he has dipped as a tactician. It is just that his batsmen have let him down big time.
How can he be held responsible if the opening batsmen have been unable to accomplish the primary task of seeing the new ball through? How can he be responsible if experienced batsmen like Dravid and Laxman have been done in by late swing that the Australian fast bowlers have obtained?
Let us not get carried away by all the criticism by former players and others on our TV channels. Yes, as fans of Indian cricket, we are hurt, upset and angered by the dismal showing in Australia – in the wake of the disaster in England – but let us not get despondent and start castigating everything about the team and about Indian cricket.
Let me point out to those leading the lament on TV channels now that they have not devoted even two minutes of their time to talk about our top performers in Ranji Trophy, Rajasthan’s Robin Bist (885 runs) and Madhya Pradesh’s TP Sudhindra (40 wickets). Unless all of India – and I include the fans, media and former India cricketers in this – respects the Ranji Trophy again, we can be sure that its fortunes in Test cricket will sink to an all-time low.
And yes, even if Indians are an emotional and sensitive race, let us learn to remain calm at all times and not allow ourselves to be victims of herd mentality. It is time to let our minds overrule our hearts, embrace hope and remain confident that a system that threw up players of the calibre of Dravid and Laxman, Sehwag and Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni will help us find solutions to the present set of problems too.