This was supposed to be Top lot drawing series, wasn’t it? A side holding on to No. 1 rather more vaguely than they believed, against one that had hard-nosed approach. It was the kind of series you look forward to. India were meant to light up the English summer with their brand of cricket. It couldn’t have been timed better. But so far it has been a damp & a big-budget flop. India are plagued by injury and over dependence on key players; while Australia were on top their bench strength or their 2nd rank team would be capable of beating any test team on a good day.
Some would want to argue cramped international schedule or player injury are the major reasons of Team India’s lackluster performance. India has taken their Numero Uno status for granted and preparation in the form of sufficient Pre-tour warm up games are missing totally; BCCI boast themselves of being the richest and influential board but fails to provide enough opportunities for the team to shield their Numero Uno status. While India ascends at the No. 1 status it needs to create an aura that would swap away the opposition; but instead of filling the itinerary with every available appointment does not leave any breathing space; lot of us would have spoken and wrote about it; but this issue of providing sufficient time for preparation merits another round of consideration by top authority of this country.
In the last four years India have had three tough away series. Against Australia in 2007-08. India then went to South Africa in December 2010 without a single first-class match behind them, On each of those tours India came back to score landmark wins, leading to the unwelcome tag of a team who start slowly and fight back. A fight back can be over-glamorized, especially if it can be avoided with better planning. The wins in Perth in 2008 and Durban in 2010 showed how good India could be; but that they weren’t always allowed to be by the people who scheduled their tours; the people who were meant to be on their side.
When going gets tough, Tough gets going. This is the old cliché we have been taught since childhood days…its time that Indian Cricket team walk the cliché and rise from the ashes as phoenix does. Winning today is about finding the balance between being encouraging and being ruthless. So far it’s been visible that leader is encouraging the group but being ruthless is the element missing. Remember Sachin Tendulkar braving the sandstorm and the opposition at Sharjah in 1998 or Anil Kumble bowling with broken jaw in Antigua in 2002; the grit shown then was remarkable; wonder what is stopping them to repeat the same feat. Body language is an important arsenal in sports & as well as Players mental makeup. Body Language is part of everything we do because the way we carry ourselves tells the person in front of us what we think about ourselves. As you walk into a situation your self-image walks along with you as well. You can carry a swagger, you can put up an act for a while but in the end inner confidence or lack of it would always reveal itself. Sunil Gavaskar used to get very upset if the two openers didn’t walk out together because he thought they were conveying a message to the opposition. And famously in a test in West Indies, when he was hit on the side of head, he didn’t even touch the spot – he didn’t want the bowler to know that he was hurt. Team India needs to embrace the present situation and address the needs. Currently it appears that Cricket is being played in the field without the heart being at right place.
Harry Potter series author did mention this at graduation ceremony of one of these Ivy leagues;
Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing in something unless you live so cautiously that you might have never lived at all. Never took a risk; never played a flamboyant style of game. In which case you have invariably failed.
This side needs to understand that losing to country’s expectation is not an issue; but when the side starts losing to its own self belief then there are signs of cracks in confidence and that would translate to on field game. Some would want to look at other side of loosing; once India loses its status as number 1 then there won’t be anything to loose and may play more freely since the monkey would be off from its back; more importantly there would be goal in front of next line of future India cricketers to achieve what senior lot did after slogging for more than a decade.
It is inevitable therefore that the past impinges on the present. But in sport as in most things in life, you must live in the present. The ball that has baffled you is gone and you are alive to play another. If you keep thinking of that ball, it will cloud your judgment in the way you play the next one. You learn from the moment gone by but you must act in the present.
India could still come back in this series, for this is a quality side, but if they do, it will be in spite of what those who have written them off and more importantly they won’t have drawn the series but would have conquered their worst fear….which has got hold of this team by its collar and confronted their skills.