Rajan Bala

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Saying it was one bad day will not do

It is no surprise that the Board of Control for Cricket in India has had no questions to ask of the Indian team and its management about the recent debacle in the second Test in Ahmedabad. There has not even been the sort of reaction which is to be only expected when the much hyped Indian team gets the sort of hiding it did and in three days. All the gains reportedly made on the tour of Australia seemed to be nullified. But the skipper, Anil Kumble and even the senior players have glossed over it by saying that it is one of those things that can happen, "one of those bad days" that can afflict any team.

Can you imagine the reactions from the public and the media had this happened to Australia? The team would have had hell to pay and the criticism would have been unforgiving and vicious. The Australian team would not have had any excuses to make and since it is a country that has always taken great pride in its cricketing and overall, sporting achievements, a defeat rankles and all the more, if it is as humiliating as the one that South Africa inflicted on India.

To hear that the Indian team was not prepared for the Test and had not even done its homework, is a trifle strange and makes a mockery of all the talk of professionalism. Does this professionalism end with taking in the money from every conceivable source?

Probably the way Indian cricket is run these days it would be too much to expect that the players should be deprived of their match fees. It will not matter in the least if every Indian cricketer in the team that lost is poorer by Rs 10 lakh. After all, they are people who would never admit they are professionals - ones living off the game - and even if on the rolls of corporate houses, it is because it suits both parties to perpetuate this hypocrisy.

For the vaunted Indian batting order to be bowled out for a paltry 76 in 20 overs in home conditions cannot be explained off the cuff. If the pitch and atmospheric conditions are not things a team is familiar with - which used to happen when tours overseas were few and far between - then there is some justification. But, not anymore and as far as one is concerned, it is a specious argument.

Then, it was a team management decision to drop one specialist batsman and opt for an all-rounder as it must have been felt that the batting was good enough to hold its own. Also, Kumble won the toss and elected to bat first, something his opposite number Smith, said he would have done had he won the toss. Kumble made the initial aggressive moves to send a message to his opposite number. But then, who expected the Indian batsmen to capitulate in this manner?

One is aware that there no use crying over spilt milk, but from the carnage, splendid use can be made for the future. A recording of the first innings should reach the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore where it should be analysed by the coaches, including Dav Whatmore, now basking in the Under-19 triumph, and the implications of the performance explained to the young players.

Republished with permission from The Asian Age

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