Two months ago, India set foot on the
English soil as the No. 1 Test side and world champions in ODIs. They return, callously
stripped off their ranking and their airs. After the 4-nil humiliation in the Tests,
we've slipped to No. 3 in Tests. And not winning a single ODI has pushed our
ODI rank off a cliff, too.
But the point is not so much about the
rankings. We'd climb the ladder again playing the home fixtures over the next
few months. Rankings, we must understand, cannot be an absolute representation
of calibre, both of the loser or the winner. So, while things can only improve
hereon, we must not brush off this painful experience as a nightmare. Lessons
ought to be learnt.
To Groom Youngsters
For the longest time India's team
composition didn't need much tinkering — most of our batsmen were in form and
bowlers were fit and performing. In fact, we'd often face the problem of plenty,
and perhaps that is why we didn't spend time preparing the second line.
Now, with at least three top players in the
twilight of their careers and a couple more hanging by a thread, it's time to
start putting a process in place to find able replacements. The next few
assignments shouldn't be seen as opportunities to regain lost pride but to
build for the future.
The ODIs against England should be used to
provide the likes of Rahane and Parthiv an extended run and the Tests against
the West Indies for Pujara and Badrinath. Give them a chance to stake their
claim in the longer format. If we fail to groom them now, we won't be able to
fill the void the seniors will leave. Also, it's time to look beyond Zaheer in
the bowling department too.
Up, Or Ship Out
Fitness should be the top criterion for
selection, not reputation. The England tour proved that all is not right with
the way injuries and fitness is assessed. The persons issuing fitness
certificates have to be made accountable.
I'm not saying that a player once given an
‘all clear' can't get injured. In the first place, we can't justify picking
someone who isn't 100% fit. Instead of players choosing series to rest, it
should be the board's responsibility to manage their workload.
It's also imperative to acknowledge the
elephant in the room — too much cricket. If we can't decrease the quantity of
cricket being played, we must increase the pool of selection-worthy players.
Well, And Make Tough Selections
The tour to England should serve as a rude
reminder of our inability to prepare well for an important series. Preparation
must start by identifying the right personnel who could succeed in prevailing
conditions and also providing ample time to acclimatize. There's no point
picking an opener who's predominantly a back-foot player for England or a
batsman who's at sea against short-pitched stuff in Australia.
Pick horses for courses even if that means
taking tough decisions. Yes, it's important to play a couple of warm-up games but
only if we're able to find a proper window for them, for the players must get
time to bat and bowl for hours in the nets too.