So India has just lost its fifth straight overseas Test series in a row and with the way things are going, we may lose 5 more and the BCCI will still be as clueless as ever. Whenever Team India comes out with a dismal performance, the usual suspects (of problems) come out.
A look at some of them…
1. Flat pitches: All Indian pitches are flat and bare. Indian batsmen are used to them and in the end become flat track bullies. They can score runs by the tonnes in Ranji matches and home Tests and that’s about it.
Till we change the character of pitches in India we will never ever be able to produce batsmen who will be able to play anywhere else.
2. Green pitches and short balls: Thanks mainly to the above, Indian batsmen can’t simply play on green pitches and always perish against the short ball. The technique of most Indian batsmen is such that they will never ever be able to play on green pitches and will always perish there.
3. Our bowlers: Thanks to being brought up on dull pitches, our fast bowlers cannot take full advantage of fast pitches and when both our batsmen and bowlers fail, whitewashes will be common.
4. Fatigue: Team India is playing too much cricket. Apart from the three formats of Tests, ODIs and T20s, IPL is totally messing up things.
5. Lack of practice matches: There should be many more practice matches on all foreign tours giving time for Team India to acclimatize with playing conditions and grounds for tough overseas Test tours.
They all sound plausible, but when you look at the last odd decade, then you find that India did pretty well from 2003-11 and collapsed from 2011-14. All of the above conditions applied in both phases and yet the results are totally different.
India’s Test record outside the sub-continent against the Top 8 teams from 2003-11 is…
Australia: 1-1, 1-2. South Africa: 1-2, 1-1. England 1-0. New Zealand: 1-0. West Indies: 1-0, 1-0.
Adding the sub-continent too it’s…
Pakistan: 2-1, 0-1. Sri Lanka: 1-2, 1-1.
What one sees here are only series victories, ties along with closely-fought defeats. There is not a single 0-2 in that period let alone a 0-4: This despite the fact that Australia, South Africa and England have been at their peak some time in this time period.
If there is any such thing as fatigue, then why does it hit overseas Tests only? We won the ICC Champions Trophy and also affected our only Test 4-0 whitewash against a top team from 2011-14.
Practice matches don’t seem to do India any good. We have taken a lead in the following overseas Test series: Australia—2003, Pakistan—2004, South Africa—2006, England—2007, New Zealand—2009, West Indies—2011 and England—2014.
In most we have squandered it and we have in fact done better in the first half of the Test series than the second throwing that theory also out of the window.
In fact Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir could be called our greatest Tests batting line up of all time. They are the reason we did so well from 2003-11. So then why did they give us 0-8?
Lightening has struck twice and now it has happened to the current set of batsmen too. They came of age when they whitewashed Australia 4-0 and did well on overseas Tests too. Here is their record on various soils…
In South Africa: Cheteshwar Pujara 70, Ajinkya Rahane 70 and Virat Kohli 68.
In New Zealand: Kohli 71, Rahane 54 and Shikhar Dhawan 54.
What made them all collapse together in England. And that too after we took a 1-0 lead? In fact the two people who had not been doing that well on foreign pitches, Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni were the top two scorers of the series from India.
A team which could win on the greenest pitch in ages in the form of Lord’s totally collapsed under much easier circumstances.
This year, Ishant Sharma got 3 5-wicket hauls while Bhuvneshwar Kumar got two in the first two Tests in England.
But that simply couldn’t be taken forward.
The truth is that all the cricket experts, commentators and officials don’t have a clue as to what is going on with Team India.
Here’s some more interesting statistics…
Till the first innings in the Southampton Test, India went for 8 consecutive innings outside the sub-continent without being bowled out below 250, a very rare occurrence.
After that our scores are…
178, 152, 161, 148.
We followed that up with our final innings score being 94. The fight has totally gone out of Team India. Either they don’t win or even if they win one Test, it totally drains them mentally.
Till the coaching staff, the BCCI and umpteen technical committees pinpoint the exact reason for Team India’s many crashes we are doomed to repeat them. We have just a few months to set our house in order before the tour of Australia in December.
But do we need a special type of trainer? Do we need a management consultant? John Wright had introduced a lot of these things in his tenure with good results.
Dropping catches and getting out to any bowler to any type of ball at any time is more of a mental problem than one of technique or talent.
With the mental state all the players are in and the utter capitulation in innings after innings makes one ask the question: Does Team India need a psychologist?