Monday, August 18, 2014

The Fault in Our "Stars"

Below is a series of my thoughts after our latest debacle in England. (It contains mostly links to my previous posts, don't click on them if you don't want to read them).
  1. When India won the world cup in 2011, I knew that it was going to be all downhill from here. I just didn't know how steep the incline would be. 
  2. I thought that two consecutive 4-0 losses to England in 2011 and Austraila in 2011-12 were the real low points. I went through the five stages of grief then
  3. The home defeat to England rankled somewhat too, but India were bang in the middle of the transition - the writing was on the wall for Gambhir, Sehwag and Tendulkar. And India got out bowled by England in India - which was troubling. 
  4. The home 4-0 win against Australia was pleasantly surprising but this was an Australian quite in turmoil and I was in a celebratory mood
  5. However, just around that time, "Enthu-gate" was happening and all hell was breaking loose. We got to know a little bit about ourselves then too. 
  6. India had rarely played great cricket since the world cup win. The Champions Trophy win however was a pleasant and happy moment in between. 
  7. The short two test tours to South Africa and New Zealand were the start of a new, post Sachin era and the team created opportunities to win 3 out of the 4 matches, but ending up losing 1 and drawing 2 of those matches. Eventually both series were lost 1-0, leading me to ask lots of questions
  8. Then this England tour happened, we found ourselves 1-0 up after the 2nd test, and then put up three incredibly poor performances, each one worse than the previous. It was incredible, but sadly after a while absolutely predictable. 
  9. Maybe 3-4 years ago, I had penned a tongue in cheek post and kept it in my drafts. Then just for fun I went ahead and put it up in Aug 2012. After the promising displays of batting in South Africa and New Zealand, I had thought that the answers to the letter and the challenge in it had come, but this England tour has however changed the answers. It does not feel good.
I am not one of those that likes judging the character of players based on their performances. Fighting spirit and all that are good to read, but I am not really sure - one can say that for example Kohli lacked application or fighting spirit or courage during his horror series. Similarly I don't like to think that lack of hunger is a valid point. Sure, these cricketers are rich, and don't have to worry about earning a livelihood like the players 20-30 years ago, but that can't be the reason why they would be casual or not care - right ?

 I can't make sense of many things. For example: when we used to play shorter test series, typically we would lose the first match and then sometimes gradually improve and often lamented saying if only the series would have been longer than 2/3 tests, we would have won a match(es) . And yet this time, we started off all right and progressively got worse and worse each day literally after the 2nd test.
  • Are India selecting the best XI every time they play tests ?
  • Do we know our best team and combination ? Do we know who are our best 6 batsmen and best 5 bowlers ? 
  • I understand fast bowling will never be our strong suit, but why have we stopped producing good spinners ? Actually since when has India producing high quality spinners in the domestic game ? The 2000s, the 90s or even before that ?
  • How much longer should Duncan Fletcher and this coaching staff be persisted with ?
  • Is MSD going to improve his test captaincy ? Can anyone else do a better job than him, given the poor bowling strength of India. Is there an alternative available ? Do we not make changes because there is no obvious alternative ?
  • Is IPL adversely impacting the Indian test team ? Is it adversely impacting the test team but benefiting the ODI and T20 teams ?
  • Do enough fans care about test success ? If we had to choose between being a great test team and an average ODI team or vice-versa - which one would we choose ?
  • Given the state of cricket and the quality of our players, should India just concentrate on ODIs/ T20s and all of accept that playing good test cricket is beyond this current bunch ?
I don't know really. I suspect we have a lot more pain in store for us, before things get better. 
Harvey Dent said: The night is darkest before the dawn. It's a dark night all right. but MSD has probably lived long enough to be the villain now. 

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