Friday, January 27, 2012

Indian cricket -breastbeating edition

 Picture Courtesy:
The Border-Gavaskar trophy has two parts: the trophy itself, which will be given to Australia, and the Indian cricket team's backside, which is detachable and is being duly handed over to the Indian team. And thus, open season for depression and anger begins here in India. Media and general public get back to doing what they do best: blame BCCI, the cricketer's characters - especially Mammon-worship, flat pitches in India, bouncy pitches in Australia, Australian sledging, Indian finger-showing, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Manmohan Singh, European crisis and some other things.

There will be more analysis of this performance than that of Lehman Brothers' solvency in 2008. The quality of this analysis will yield exactly the same results. As a disinterested, though not dispassionate, match watcher, I noticed one fact which many people are not able to observe, or perhaps, not willing, to admit.

The Indian batting line-up is not capable enough to score on bouncy English, Australian or South African pitches. They simply lack the skills.

There, I said it.

It could be that the trio is too old to react quickly enough; it could be that mental disintegration, started by Steve Waugh, has seeped in just now, effectively blocking the Big Three's abilities. I don't know the reason. But, it is clear as day that the skills are simply missing.

There is no need to feel bad about it. Let us not mourn for what is not there today. Let us look at highlights of past matches to revel in the memories. Let us look at a honourable easing out of the Big Three. Yes, I am talking of retirement of Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar from Test cricket. Though Sachin may still have a year of Test cricket in him, the other two simply don't. And you can only watch Rahul get bowled so many times before feeling that hollowness within you. As much as Rahul's failure, it is the realization that you have reached closer to middle age. We have lived vicariously through their batting. Can we bear to get old vicariously through their diminishment?

And replacing Sachin, well, let me rephrase that, getting someone else at Number Four, is not going to be easy. And as for Sehwag, the standard explanation for his performance, or lack thereof, is that that is how he plays. Well, he is not playing that way, so maybe, the fourth person to go has to be VS. That calls for another transition plan.
Yes, Indian cricket will not be the same, but at least the breast beating will stop, for the time being. And that is no mean feat. Test cricket is a long term game, unlike most other sports. Indian Test Cricket's hope lies in planning, and playing it, for the long term.

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