The poison pen (if such a thing exists these days) is out against the Indian team’s think-tank – and perhaps rightly so after a string of less than satisfactory performances, not to speak of disappointing results, in overseas Tests. One has to rack one’s memory to recall an Indian win in alien conditions.
I have been among those who have preached patience as far as the Indian team is concerned. India is not exactly teeming with bowling talent that makes any rival batsman quiver in boots at grounds away from the sub-continent and since the batting, now built around Virat Kohli – he has played only 24 Tests so far – is coming of age.
There are two areas that India must introspect, whether or not there are away series lined up in the foreseeable future. The first relates to skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his apparent inability to find winning sequences with regard to end-game after his bowlers have done well. There are too many voices that have called for his neck.
There has been less focus on the coaching staff – coach Duncan Fletcher, bowling coach Joe Dawes and fielding coach Trevor Penny. I would like them to answer some questions that have cropped up, particularly since the coaching staff is meant to support the team with ideas and solutions.
For instance, I cannot understand why Fletcher could not suggest obvious bowling changes to Dhoni or goad him not to wait for the second or third new balls – and in one extreme instance in South Africa earlier this season, delay the second new ball till the umpires stepped in and forced him to take the new ball.
For the life of me, I cannot imagine why Penny could not have told Dhoni to stand a yard or so further up than he does to the Indian seamers. Dhoni’s position then decides where the slip fielders station themselves. Many an edge has dropped agonisingly short of the men behind the stumps or die on the fielders.
While one understand that Dawes cannot take over the cricket ball from the Indian bowlers and deliver himself, there has been so little evolution in the attack since he took over the position that it is time to ask searching questions – and be prepared for some straight answers.
Then again, who will ask these questions?
Back in September 2005 coach Greg Chappell and skipper Sourav Ganguly faced a committee comprising former India captains Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Srinivas Venkataraghavan along with the then BCCI President Ranbir Singh Mahendra, Board Secretary SK Nair and Jagmohan Dalmiya. The committee was formed in the wake of the most publicised spat between captain and coach.
Perhaps the time has come for the Board to bring together a few good men – Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar come to mind – to do a fair assessment of their work and see if it is worth their continuing. If this group has to have a word with Fletcher & co, so be it. Indian cricket deserves this, to say the least.