The return of the Indian team after their disappointing performance overseas has transformed the players from heroes to zeros. Our favourite captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and his new bunch of inexperienced but talented youngsters are being subjected to some brutal criticism. Captaincy, strategies and skills are being scrutinised to the nth degree.
Cricketers of today do not have the luxury of escaping bad performances as their high remuneration has made them hard core professionals.
The reality of the new world of payment for performance — return on investment, if you like — is jargon of the corporate environment. Most of them are in their twenties and are not mature enough, educated enough or exposed to the fiery 'perform or perish’ world.
Unfortunately, the game of cricket features so much uncertainty that hard work, analysis and logic are not the only way to visualise the final outcome. Indian fans and followers were convinced that the new Indian team under Dhoni’s leadership looked ready to capture the world of cricket. The transformation from pupae to butterflies did not happen.
Having lost in both South Africa and New Zealand, they made themselves vulnerable to criticism by one and all.
However, I feel the team did not perform as disastrously as one makes it out to be. We need to give time for the new bunch to gain experience and deliver. Bringing up statistics of the days gone by does not truly reflect the process that has been put into place for the change. The success of our young batsmen and the resurgence of our pace bowlers, who tirelessly bowled 40 overs each, did augur well as regards their fitness and skills.
Fielding is an important part of a successful side and although there were some scintillating catches by the Indian side, the ones missed close to the wicket at crucial junctures turned out to be their death knell.
Captain Dhoni may not have come out of the tours smelling of roses, but he is an astute leader who has been brought up on the short version of the game. He is a proven leader who has been given the task to restructure and reinvigorate the Indian team so that it can retain the World Cup in 2015.
It will be a folly if they remove him from Test captaincy when India tour England and Australia this year. We need to show faith in him when the chips are down, rather than create disharmony where it does not exist.
(The writer is a former Test cricketer)
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