If you are an Indian in the mainstream sense, you’ve got to be into at least two, if not all three, of these things: Chai, Cricket and Bollywood. Cricket seems to be more sought after. Being conditioned to the roars of sixes and fours and the ballyhoo surrounding the players, we have engrained cricket in our thoughts and have not been any lesser than a fanatic. Given the dismal performances in foreign lands, should we expect less? While the Indians have been dominant at home, their record outside the sub-continent is poor with a win-loss ratio of 0.75 in 44 Tests, while in top Test nations like Australia, South Africa and England, the win-loss ratio dips further to 0.50.
Such is the dichotomy that, the Indian media, adages them as ‘Tigers at home, Lambs Abroad.’ The nucleus of young players, have to deliver in environments not tailor-made for gargantuan batting exploits. Also, for the gross wickets that win a match, India needs fast bowlers who can fling it consistently, without breaking down. Only then can India be a genuine contender in matches outside the sub-continent. The 2013 Champions Trophy win seems to be fluke given the recent debacles. The nightmares of playing abroad got revisited in the recent series.
The irony is that we gain the numero uno spot in world rankings at home, and within months, lose it on a foreign ground. Problems in biological clock management, reading conditions and pitch along with facing short-pitch deliveries have always been a bolt-from-the-blue for the men-in-blue. At a time when we have world class facilities to train on ‘cemented pitches’ and bowling greats like Mc Grath and Lilee heading MRF Pace academy, do we still need to crib about the absence of such pitches in India? But this problem is also not exclusive to the Indian team. When England, Australia or New Zealand come to Asia, they land in a soup too. So, who is to blame for this inconsistency? Is this complacency on part of cricketers? Or the wrong judgment of conditions? Or mis-managed scheduling of games? I would assert larger blame to the latter.
- Have psychotherapists on board to help tackle pressures, after all it is both a mental and physical game.
- BCCI needs to give away the misconception that a very good player can be a good coach.
- The need is to develop the thinking that cricket is a team game and game should not suffer due to sponsorships.
- Send as many players as possible to feature in County cricket.
- The BCCI should stop being insular and develop a test squad that can play in all conditions. But far too much time is spent in courts and fighting administrative fires.
To sum it all, we have probably taken the following line too seriously, “All is fair in Love and Cricket.”