The disappointing performance by Australia in India and India in England and Australia, in Test cricket, quite clearly highlights the effective use of local conditions by home teams to their advantage.
Therefore, the time has come for international sides to hire local consultants to support the plans of the coach, captain and selectors and advise them on the best way to counter the conditions.
The batting technique needs to be adapted to suit overseas conditions.
Sunil Gavaskar was a master in it. Experience is what enhanced his database and he was always willing to share it with teammates.
Similarly, bowling requires a specific length and release with subtle variations of flight, speed or movement and so a successful local performer would be able to provide valuable insight. Furthermore, experts on culture, tradition and mental preparation would be extremely useful.
Previous international sides played quite a few first-class matches before and during the Test series which gave them a good idea and an opportunity to make changes in technique and approach.
Unfortunately, the schedules of modern cricket do not permit such luxury and therefore the cricketer and the coach are left clueless.
Australia would have done well to have hired a Mohinder Amarnath or a Dilip Vengsarkar for batting and an Anil Kumble or a Kapil Dev for bowling. It has become important for touring sides to take each series differently and so homegrown achievers and luminaries as consultants would be ideal. Their holistic participation in team selection and advice before and during the tour could be of immense help.
India will be touring South Africa and New Zealand over the next 12 months and they should look at hiring the services of a Shaun Pollock and maybe even Richard Hadlee.
In the meanwhile, Ajinkya Rahane should feel blessed to have finally achieved his dream of playing Test cricket for India. The injury to Shikhar Dhawan, a bout of jaundice to Gautam Gambhir, the out-of-form Virender Sehwag and the senior citizen tag to Wasim Jaffer opened a slot for him.
Being in the reserves is quite frustrating and I can relate to it as I was one for 10 India matches. The playing eleven get all the perks and the focus and the unfortunate reserve has his tasks revolving around being a net bowler, a replacement fielder, a smiling refreshment provider and a family messenger.
Indian cricket is famous for turning middle-order batsmen into openers.
Virender Sehwag and Ravi Shastri have been a few of the successful ones, whereas so many, like Dilip Vengsarkar, VVS Laxman and Dilip Sardesai showed glimpses of success and then failed.
These three were fortunate to have been reinstated in the middle order and did yeoman’s service thereafter. A fixed batting position is very important for the mental preparation of a player.
It is wonderful to see the young side emerging and if they get professional support, they do look like a side that could once again be number one in the world of cricket.
The writer is a former Test cricketer. TAG: CYCSPL