Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Looking back, looking forward

The Australians have gone back and it is time for us to take a break and actually do some thinking before the next frenetic cricket activity starts with our friendly cricketing neighbour Pakistan. Normally when the Australian cricket team leaves the shores of a nation the cricketing authorities and home supporters heave a sigh of relief as they leave the home team devastated. I remember this happened in South Africa and if my failing memory serves me right it was Graham Pollock who said that he was glad that the Australians were going back so much had the home team been defeated and deflated. This tour of India has not been so bad for the home team, for even if we lost the one day series 2-4 we won the twenty 20 game at Mumbai quite comfortably. The one day champions won their version and the twenty 20 version was won by the current world champions! What a fantastic feeling that is! Having said that one needs to have a proper sense of perspective about the tour and also think about the way ahead.

Favourable conditions and yet…
Most of the games were played in the recent tour in conditions that were probably neutralizing the Australian advantage of pace, nor did the wickets have too much bounce, though it did aid spin as at the Wankhede and yet we lost quite worryingly and we won by narrow margins at Wankhede and Chandigarh. Probably conditions might be a lot more challenging at Brisbane and at Melbourne and Hobart if not in Sydney. Even Sri Lanka, the other contestant in the Commonwealth Bank series will give us a run for our money. This impression was heightened when I saw us struggle at the Wankhede. Just throw in a Shaun Tait with Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson and I can imagine the tension that some of us are going to face at least watching, forget about our batsmen coping. I think the major problem has been and will be with viewers like me who fear the worst and sadly see their worst fears come true! So here is my first suggestion. However sorry Rahul Dravid might have looked this time around, he should be penciled into the one day team as must be VVS Laxman who the Australians respect and certainly Murali Kartik! I know that with this reinforcement of the 20-20 win the clamour to get rid of the seniors will soon reach a crescendo. But lets have a sense of perspective. Robin Uthappa has a lot of flair and ability but there are not too many others waiting in the wings for us to dispense with the biggies in a hurry. Let us try to be graceful [though that seems to be contrary to our current culture] and remember what these cricketers have done for our country. Let us not be a nation of thankless people.

What about Pakistan?
Pakistan will be a lot closer than Australia was in the one day version of the game. Thankfully for us they are a wonderfully unpredictable cricketing side with some outstanding players. But they field abominably and at times play absolutely unforgivably. But they still have some players Like Younis Khan, Asif, Afridi and Mohd Yousuf who seem to love the Indian challenge. I believe they have an outstanding pace attack and we need the big three to show the way. It is only with senior players that we will last the full complement of fifty overs. I love this talk about youngsters but you just cannot select someone simply because he is young and shows promise. He must be ready for the big occasion. We need to keep alternating, rotating and giving an opportunity for young people to blend. Some will feel left out and perhaps even be left out unreasonably or so it will seem, but some like Mathew Hayden and Mike Hussey will wait and break open the selection doors, just the way David Hussey is doing just now. We love to hate the Aussies but even they do some things right! I just hope the Indian selection committee does a few things right and I fervently wish that we, arm chair critics mindless cricket fans and media learn the art of patience.

Success is a process not an event
There is no bigger event than the world cup and India have just won that. And to reiterate our superiority we have just beaten Australia again in this format. Heady stuff! But Australia are struggling to come to terms with this version of the game attitudinally and tactically. They missed a trick by not playing Brad Hogg in the entire twenty 20 tournament and the one game at the Brabourne. They will crack this. But I am not so much worried about them as I am worried about ourselves. When Sachin Tendulkar was the premier batsman in world cricket every up and coming bowler wanted to knock him over. But he was equal to the task. Now every team in the world will try to knock us over after all beating the world champions will make headlines. We need to win consistently at least in the twenty 20 format for a long period. Since 95 Australia have been the test champions and the one day world champions since 99.That calls for some consistency, pride in your performance and a strong desire to remain on top. We have started well. The weeks and months ahead are going to be challenging for our team. It is a period of stress with the old giving way to the new. But let us not make it difficult for the team. In Dhoni we have a leader who could easily be a prime minister, so easily does responsibility rest on his shoulders! Let us support him and the team. Our place in the sun will come. Now that we have tasted blood we shall prevail sooner rather than later!
(Ramanujam Sridhar is CEO, brand-comm, and the author of One Land, One Billion Minds.)


Ram said...

Looking back I would at the outset like to thank you for your wonderful articles through the series which made for compulsive reading and sometimes compulsive commenting too! I do agree with you that we cant forget what the oldies have done but somehow there is a certain sense of discordance within the team when it has too many seniors and a younger captain. He cant but be but nice to them at all times. But as you say dhoni seems to be doing a good and diplomatic job of it. To the press he talks in favour of the seniors and then silently drops dravid. Unfortunately todays one day cricket is more than just being a good batsmen or bowler. You need to come to the team with certain hygiene factors which are the basic mandotories. The seniors are not the best in terms of fitness and consequently not the best runners both between the wickets and on the outfield. Plus as luck would have it or otherwise we haven’t won anything big with the seniors. Sachin and gang have played almost 4 worldcups and the best result has been a worldcup final after a semifinal with Kenya. The younger lot have grabbed their one moment of glory and that is what is going to stick in peoples minds. Our seniors have been poor at that in one day cricket. We haven’t had a clive Lloyd 102 or a viv Richards 138 or a ponting 140 or a gilchrist 149 kind of innings from the Indian seniors in any major event and that is their biggest negative. They have had high points in test matches like the vvs innings in Calcutta or the many inngs the dravid has played. Infact dravid has won us more test matches than anyone else. So the moot point is are we supposed to be clinical like the aussies in terms of getting rid of the seniors or are we supposed to be nice to them because they have been great players in a different format of the game(tests). I would think the former.Yes it is going to be tough to get instant replacements for them but we should remember that we felt the same way when we lost players like sunny, vishy and also the spin quartet. Like they say men may come men may go but the institution remains. I think it applies to cricket too.

Anonymous said...

"Arm chair critics think absurdly because they pencil Laxmans, Dravids in and just because they have time (and, of course mind) to think" This is what selectors say when they read this cloumn, if ever. Murali, who is he? that's what their elephantine memories remember. Only, and only, India can afford to drop its premiere (arguably) batsman, who was captain just a while ago. A player would fail to make the cut, just beacuse he was 'Man of the Match' in the previous game!

There is no end to their fish stories. 'Laxman is a poor runner between the wickets', he compiles ton after ton against Aus jsut because they fail to run him out! poor fielders! 'He is a poor a fielder too' can you show me better fielder at slip? By the way, why we need a slip? Australian wickets are low and slow.

Will they ever ask Sachin to prove his fitness by playing for Mumbai? But, Dravid has to. Obvious he is not mumbaikar! He was to fit play against Aussies but not against Pakistan, Oh!when did he hurt himself?

A player of Dravid's calibre (and stature, does it matter really? except for Tendulkar and Agarkar)fails to find his name in the list! That's India, maaaan. It is bound to happen, Vengasarkar has the erudition of playing 110 tests!

Sachin will soon become the test captain for the third time. In fact, earlier two stints were not that great. But how does it matter? h(m)e Mumbaikar!

P.S: Nepotism , cronyism,aur chamchagiri ka matlab kya hota hai?


Ramanujam Sridhar said...

You seem to have written my next column in advance about Rahul Dravid being "rested". How sad for Indian cricket that we are so right!