Our cricket team needs to be thankful to Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and their anti-corruption movement. New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan has taken away all camera lenses from our under-performing multi-millionaires and spared them of an extended, painful, never ending post mortem. The past month and a half has been arduous for the Indian fan, to say the least. An experience where we saw ten unwanted Goliaths within the Indian team over power one single Dravid, day in and out. The enemy lied within.
One look at the series averages and Dravid seems to have been grossly misplaced. Just imagine the series averages as an annual passing percentage in school – Dravid passed with 76.83 per cent, the second best student in the class was Amit Mishra with 38.25 per cent, everyone else failed. The Wall was probably being sent to the wrong school, he lacked serious competition. The neighbouring ‘English’ school had five batsmen passing with first division and two more in second division (ie average of above 50) – Three of these seven were lower order batsmen!
This 4-0 pasting, in the long run, will do more good to us that bad. It takes fans expectations to more realistic levels, reduces pressure on the players, exposes their limitations to the hilt and hopefully, gives everyone a fresh purpose – of launching an assault to regain back the numero uno position. Most importantly it gives the selectors, strategists, academies a lot to rack their skulls.
The fan’s expectations from the Indian cricket team had reached unreasonable levels – anything less than a win got criticized in an unconstructive way; whether the see-saw last test at SA or the two blurry draws at the Caribbean islands or the insipid performances in England. It’s now the eighth time in ten Tests that our boys are being booed by their fans. It’s getting easier for me to recall that Spain are the football World Cup champions.
Any outsider just needs to flip across the forty odd news channels on Indian television to have a fair idea why the nation depends so heavily on the cricket team for positive news. Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdeo could never have pulled their movements during the first quarter of this year. The nation was so fixated to the men in blue that even Bollywood didn’t dare release any high investment project during the World Cup.
The country continues to look upto the team to put a smile back on their faces and the team owes it to their one billion plus global fans. It’s not gonna be easy either. Injuries apart, this has been a tour where even club sides have bullied them so far. The last time we got humiliated so badly was in the chill of New Zealand in 2002 – 2-0 in Tests and an ODI scoreline which should have read NZ 5 – Sehwag 2.
At the time of writing India finally registered their first win against Sussex – more of a relief after 45 nightmarish days, than joy. New kids on the block Virat, Rohit, Parthiv, Ashwin and RP Singh making it a team win.
The team now faces a charged up English team with sections of their media expecting another whitewash in the ODIs – probably a case of misplaced wisdom. The difference between ODIs and Tests is as vast as Rahul Dravid and Suresh Raina. For an alternate example, think of Yuvraj Singh the ODI player and VVS Laxman the ODI player; and now measure them on the Test match platform.
For all the short stuff, close in fielders, four slips and relentless pressure by English bowlers bowling consistently in right areas; make no mistake, the ODIs will be very different. There was some evidence to weaknesses during the Test matches too. Whenever Indians managed to stitch partnerships, the English bowlers looked clueless, lost composure and resorted to heavy chatting.
The Poms top order, barring KP, don’t possess blazing strike rates either. ECB will also ensure the ODI wickets are slightly different in nature. They can’t afford matches where the result can be concluded as early as the tenth over of the game – not for a format which, many fear, is on its death path.
England are no strangers to getting walloped. In the last two bilateral ODI series held in India, the hosts had thrashed the Pommies 10-1. In the last ODI series held in the queen’s country, the hosts won a close contest 4-3. Expect a series as close as that one and finally some even cricketing contests to savour. A turnaround is just one win away.