“We grow up with fairy tales, but in life there is no happily ever after. And if there were, I would get bored of life. To me, life is interesting when one is struggling.”
—Imran Khan, cricketer and politician.
The carcass that is Indian cricket is laid out on the coroner’s slab. The post-mortem begins afresh.
It all seems to be an exercise in futility.
Every serious Indian cricket lover, ex-cricketer, administrator or even current cricketer knows what ails Indian cricket. But not one wants to make a concrete effort to alter the status quo.
The ‘chalta hai’ attitude comes to the fore.
“All this will change when we play in India on our dust-bowls” is the constant refrain.
And that is how it has panned out. The die-hard fans are consoled by wins eked out at home in conditions that suit flat-track bullies.
And the sponsors are happy all over again and our cricketers are worshiped as demigods once more.
It is a combination of several factors.
There exists a paucity of quality fast bowlers to take advantage of conditions abroad because Indian pitches do not encourage them. They prefer to be medium fast rather than bowl their hearts out with little reward.
Except for Mohali, there are very few pitches that offer the fast bowler any help. It is time that the BCCI drew up a plan to create sporting pitches that will dot all the Test venues in India. It should be a mandate dictated from the top.
Imran Khan wished his team to win abroad and at home in all conditions. He institutionalized a culture of encouraging raw pace as well as facilitated pacy wickets on the north-west Indian sub-continent.
There are no excuse for saying that it cannot be done. Look due north to our ‘Pathan’ neighbours for inspiration.
Fast, bouncy wickets at home would also make sure that our batters adapt quickly to English, Australian or South African ones.
Secondly, the Indian team selection especially for overseas tours has to be such that core players are constantly challenged by the fringe ones. No one should be allowed to rest on their laurels. A place in the side has to be constantly earned. There should be no passengers in the chosen 16.
Fast bowlers should be groomed and rotated so that they do not succumb to injuries.
Additionally, certain batsmen and bowlers with special or limited skills should be set aside for a specific format. You would expect a Ravindra Jadeja or a Stuart Binny to be a useful asset in one-dayers or T-20s. But expecting them to play stellar roles in Tests is wishful thinking. Similarly, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma are well-suited for Test cricket only.
A system that rewards format specialists is the need of the hour. The BCCI could look into that.
Yes, the Indian team would do better if they had all-rounders in the side. But the unfortunate truth is there is none of the calibre of a Kapil Dev or even a Manoj Prabhakar. The cupboard is bare.
The Indian Test team is thus better off with six front-line batsmen and five strike bowlers.
The series in Australia will show if the lessons learned from the unmitigated disaster in England have been absorbed.
If not, the Indian cricket fan can expect his cup of woe to overflow. Certainly not a good augury for the World Cup to follow!
Imran Khan slams the public row between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Shahid Afridi.
What he really meant:
“The national cricket board and their cricketers are always at loggerheads—to the detriment of Pakistani cricket.”
What he definitely didn’t:
In another blow to Shahid Afridi’s hopes of returning to the Pakistani cricket team, the team management made public a team psychiatrist’s report on the dashing all-rounder.
Mr. Gind Mames, a consulting psychotherapist, said that the former Pakistani ODI skipper is overly influenced by sports persons who have retired from their sport only to return in another attempt to regain youthful glory.
“Afridi is a huge fan of Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher, Bjorn Borg, Imran Khan,George Foreman and Martina Navratilova, among others.” said Mr. Mames.
A few random thoughts before the World Cup semi-finals:
The high octane clash between the two South East Asian neighbours—India and Pakistan—is the most eagerly awaited game of this tournament.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gary Kirsten managed to keep a lid on the pressure of expectations and beat Australia with a sangfroid not expected from usually jittery Indian sides. It will be nothing short of a minor miracle if they can continue in the same vein at Mohali especially in front of Messrs Dr. Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Image via Wikipedia
For Indian cricket fans who prefer to catch World Cup updates on the telly rather than on the internet, there exists one show that differentiates itself from the rest.
It is CNN-IBN’s Kings Of Cricket—featuring Sir Vivian Richards, Imran Khan, Allan Border, Chris Cairns, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Abbas, Murali Kartik, Kirti Azad and Harsha Bhogle.
The term ‘Kings Of Cricket’ is apt when applied to Richards,the original Khan,Allan Border and maybe even Anil Kumble. The former three are legends of the game and have played in and/or captained World Cup winning sides.