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Indian Cricket: The Future?
The year 2011 has indeed been a roller-coaster ride for Indian cricket. April 2011 saw Team India winning the World Cup after a whopping 28 years under the stewardship of MS Dhoni. We became the number one Test team and ODI team in the world. MS Dhoni got a new name "Captain Cool". Cricket pundits then stated that maintaining the numero uno position would be very tough. How those words were true!!! Team India lost the series in England 0-4 and now in Australia, the same result again.
Analysis of overseas tour failures
The reasons behind these overseas tours are very evident. I will just summarize them below---
1. The entire batting unit failed. Gambhir and Sehwag did not see the new ball off. The highest partnership between them in Australia was 24 runs. Among the seniors, only Sachin looked the best. Rahul Dravid "The Wall" was no more the wall of Team India. VVS Laxman was found wanting. This series clearly showed that they were slow in their reflexes. Dhoni's use of bottom hand became his biggest weakness in this series. Virat unfortunately made a 100 in the last test, which was a bit too late. The tail showed very little resistance. The only positive in the batting was the emergence of Virat Kolhi.
2. The bowling unit bowled well in patches. The best bowler was Zaheer Khan, who took 15 wickets in this series. If Ishant works hard on releasing the ball and follow through, he will be definitely a more lethal bowler. Umesh Yadav and R.Ashwin bowled well in patches, but gave away too many runs. Here, the only positive was Umesh and Ashwin's showcase of brilliance.
The future and the solution
Where does Indian cricket go from here? Is it further overseas losses or draws/wins abroad? This answer hugely depends upon the systemic changes that may be made in Indian cricket, provided there are selectors and administrators who have the courage to take brave decisions and have the foresight.
Changes need to made at every level - the team, domestic cricket and administration.
1. Seniors need to gradually step aside and give promising youngsters a fair chance.
2. The ideal team should be a mix of youngsters and seniors with percentage of youngsters on the higher side (>50%).
3. Plans to win test series must be made atleast a month in advance before the start of a series. Ensure that these plans are executed on the field.
4. Make sporting and fair pitches around India. This will ensure true competition betwen bat and ball in domestic matches. This will also allow selectors to select technically and temperamentally sound batsmen and quality bowlers.
5. Make selections purely on consistent performance, fitness, athleticism on the field and temperament, not on reputation. Drop senior players if they are inconsistent.
6. The captain and the coach should be made selectors. This will make the captain and coach more responsible and accountable.
7. The BCCI should make a blueprint containing the vision, mission and values for the Indian team. They should ensure that this is strictly adhered to. Reward players for good performances and cut pays if they do not perform.
8. The administrative committee should comprise of ex-players also.
9. The NCA should be a centre for grooming batsmen and bowlers with great potential. Youngsters should have a mentor in the team.
10. The U-19 team should be sent for more overseas tours.
If the above steps are implemented, then that day is not far when the Indian Team is back to numero uno status.