The huge grounds in Australia have again turned out to be the killing fields of Indian cricket. With the 4-0 thrashing in the Test series, the knives that were sharpened after the loss in Sydney where India fell 2-0 behind, have been drawn and the mayhem has begun.
Even the Board, at its insensitive best right now, has expressed ''concern'' and the lobbying for heads to roll, perhaps beginning with the captain himself, is fast gathering momentum. The likes of Dravid and Laxman are being literally forced to face the firing squad as if sacking a couple of seniors would turn Indian cricket around.
As I have been maintaining all along, we need to inject a heavy dose of homeopathy to get to the root of the ailment that Indian cricket is suffering from. Chopping and changing can wait, but the real issues that have contributed to the debacle lie unexposed with there being no accountability. Sehwag's statement ''let us forget all this and move on'' is a reaction that is more in line with the Board's thinking.
While Laxman has maintained stoic silence over his own flop show, Dravid has said there is plenty of time to mull over before the next Test series, at home, gets underway in September; ditto, Dhoni whose alleged differences with Sehwag are now being freely aired in public. It is so typical that in defeat, the worms crawl out of the woodwork while nobody seems to wonder how these crawlies got there in the first place.
If anything, the series Down Under has only served to expose the rotten structure of Indian cricket that tends to mask its weakness in dollar bills. The Board, in its avarice, has built itself a skyscraper without ascertaining whether the foundation can withstand the structure. But with the cash cow IPL just around the corner, nobody is keen to disturb the muddy waters any more, hoping that the muck would again settle at the bottom until it is dredged up by another disastrous overseas series.
True, age and slowing reflexes seem to have affected the Indian oldies far more than they have Ponting who seems to have reinvented himself, courtesy a large helping of the Indian curry that was served up so dutifully by our team to extend his tenure. Not surprising, considering that historically, Indian cricket teams have always helped resurrect careers of foreign players. Ask Viv Richards if you don't believe it.
The Board needs to introspect, though it is debatable whether its officials are capable of it or even willing to. My bet is that as in the past, the rubble of the Aussie series will be swept under the carpet. A victory or two in the tri-series, followed by the Asia Cup and the razzmatazz of the IPL this summer will erase the horrors of the Test series.
As for the team’s performance Down Under, it was a massive collective failure. The primary blame should essentially be directed to the top five batsmen - Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, and Laxman while Dhoni was the biggest flop in all his three responsibilities. At least Kohli delivered in Adelaide and looked a good investment for the future. The batsmen were too preoccupied with their shortcomings and lost sight of the team’s cause.
The bowlers put in a honest toil, but their best was not enough. Always under pressure with insufficient number of runs to play with, Zaheer alone stood out with young Yadav, Ashwin and Ishant enjoying a few good moments, but not enough to make an impact on the match or the series.
Looking back, India lost the series in the first Test at Melbourne where they had the Aussies on the ropes, but a combination of poor captaincy, sloppy fielding and tentative batting, let the home team off the hook. Typically, the Aussies, once reprieved, never looked back and handed out a merciless hammering in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.
As in life, our cricketers reflect the system that produces them. The Board's biggest failure is the lack of attention to domestic cricket which is in shambles. At best, it offers good money, but little else. The priorities need to be revisited since the Board seems to believe that revenues reflect success. The point is that money is only an enabler and not a solution.
The recent Ranji Trophy tournament is a fine example of the pitiable state of domestic cricket where matches are mostly won and lost on the strength of first innings lead on flat pitches that offer nothing to the bowlers. Same is the case at the junior levels. It is pointless to have age-group tournaments when they are played in conditions that mask the flaws and magnify performances. Only a few gems survive on foreign soil.
The need of the hour is sobriety of thought and not the axe. Cricket in India, like its people, will survive, but not thrive unless the Board acts with maturity and introspects. Experience has made cynics out of us as we wonder whether the administrators have the will, much less, ability to think and act rather than react.