Sunday, January 15, 2012

Down Under Misery (Test Cricket)

With back to back heavy home away series losses, (first England and then followed by Australia) the entire sheen of Dhoni's World Cup success is gone. So when he admitted he is the main culprit, it is all true. The guy simply does not seem to have any heart in these series, even though it is true that his Team thrashed the same English Team in India subsequently; but that was at home. As like New Orleans Saints Football Team would confirm, what matters is the home away win.

May be the core reason is so far he and Indian Cricket Team have not been required to 'pay any' price of these utterly despicable performances. It is rare for a Test Cricket team to incur back to back innings defeats. Indian Team has completely given up to put any resistance. BCCI is talking about easing out VVS Laxman and I hope possibly Virendra Sehwag too followed by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. But BCCI needs to execute on that. With seniority in sports, one expects these seniors to know when to time out there exits. Apparently that is not the case here. These players are carried away with their grandiose sense of achieving larger than life cricketing achievements. But they are not able to 'walk the talk'. As BB King would say - 'the thrill is gone baby....'.

Even new comers did not do well. Except for couple of half centuries in 6 innings, they hardly stayed on the pitch. Same with bowlers too, except for one or two performances; nothing much to notice. But as Gavaskar said, it is much more preferred to lose 0-3 with younger players than these oldies who are in their twilight and hardly any addition to Indian Sport.

Sheer basic competence, mental aptitude and willingness; all those are missing with visiting Indian Team. But the root cause may be that Test Cricket hardly brings any money to these players and their gold mines are IPL, 20-20 and 50 over day matches. In that sense, their interests are simply not aligned with their performance in Test Cricket. Hence 'grandiosity in statistical records'; that is the only motivating factor. No wonder you see so many old players selected on their reputation rather performance. Corollary to this second class treatment of Test Cricket is no interest for BCCI in making 'fast pitches' in India like WACA at Perth and decades after decades Indian batsmen continue to struggle with fast bowlers in home away series. 

Already advertising rates for Cricket are heading south in India and even though Test Cricket does not make much money for players and organizers; the consequent negative publicity is actually harmful to the business of Cricket. Test Cricket is not dead in the court of public support to an extent where it can be neglected completely and hence Cricket playing nations cannot very easily turn away from that. No matter how much fans of shorter version of Cricket deride Test Cricket, most people in the end come to the conclusion that ultimately it is the Test Cricket where pure cricketing competence, extra-ordinary team play and leadership by the captain; all that manifest. The best in cricket is in Test Matches. BCCI and Indian Team have no choice but collect pieces from here and build a good team.

Kudos to Australian Test Cricket Team for their performance. Before start of the series, they were looked down upon as presenting an opportunity to Indian Team to win a home away series. But they have demolished the Indian Team in a royal fashion and laid down foundation of possibly yet another ascendancy of a great Australian Team. This series win will give good confidence to Australian Team. They cannot be carried away by this success as they need to prove their mantle against top teams of England and South Africa. Nevertheless it is a great start for post Ricky Pointing era.

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