Sport & Culture

Indian Cricket in Trouble

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Sport & Culture

Indian Cricket in Trouble

Another humiliating defeat for India’s cricket team in Australia raises big questions about the domestic game.

Indian lost the momentum and in effect the match on the very first day of its latest cricket test match in Sydney when it was bowled out in just over 50 overs with 191 runs on board. Losing the match on the fourth day by an innings and 68 runs was merely a formality.

India can’t blame the pitch – Australia managed to compile a mammoth total of 659 for four in its first innings, with captain Michael Clarke scoring a sublime unbeaten score of 329, supported by Michael Hussey on 150.

In contrast to the host team, none of the Indian players managed to reach three figures. Sachin Tendulkar again failed to convince his critics about his ability to step up when things look bleak. In the twilight of his career, the Little Master has become a prisoner of his own greatness, and time and again has failed to delivery when his star touch is needed most.

You could almost excuse India for having one bad match overseas, but seven consecutive test match losses has raised real questions, as I suggested before, about the team’s ability to play on anything but a slow Indian wicket.

Some blame the Indian Premier League for the dismal performance of the team, arguing that the IPL takes up so much of the players’ energy that they aren’t fit enough to play international games.Yet of that’s the case, why do the many English and Australian players in the IPL manage to come up trumps in test matches.

The blame for the pathetic performance of the Indian cricket team therefore seems to lay elsewhere, perhaps with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the premier governing body that looks after the players and pitch in India. At the risk of repetition, it wouldn’t be off the mark to blame the BCCI for deliberately preparing slow pitches at home. Why? Because they likely want to give the batsmen a chance to hit the big innings popular with the vast TV audience in India, so boosting revenues.

But the richest cricket body in the world is demonstrating poor cricket sense by not exposing its batsmen to more competitive wickets at home. And as India’splayers travel abroad with enormous expectations, it’s not only the players who feel shamed in defeat, but Indian cricket fans as well. The cold truth is that the BCCI took unprepared players to Australia and England.

There is noticeable disenchantment with cricket in India today, even as football is increasingly taking hold with the masses. The BCCI should therefore spend some extra money and imagination on overhauling the selection process as well as the preparation of pitches.

That, though, is for the long term. In the short term, though, India just needs to try to take its next test to the fifth day.

Sanjay Kumar also blogs at Indian Decade.