India's biggest Test crisis ever

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 06, 2012 06:35 hrs

Make no mistake about it. This is India's biggest Test crisis in long long time. Losing six Tests on foreign soil on the trot puts you in the league of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Now what are the reasons being touted for this debacle?

We are poor travellers. We can't play on fast pitches. We are flat track bullies. We wilt against genuine pace. We can't play the short ball... and so on and so forth.

But don't all these reasons apply to Indian batting down the ages? If that was the case, then how did we come out with a much improved performance from 2003-11 and what suddenly happened now?

Let me explain. In December 2002, we were thrashed 0-2 in a two-Test series on New Zealand soil, something which happened with great regularity.

Then we mysteriously came out with our best performance on foreign pitches in a period that lasted eight odd years.

Just look at our complete overseas record against the Top 8 Test teams chronologically during that period...

India succumb to an innings and 68-run defeat in 2nd test

1-1 (Aus), 2-1 (Pak), 0-1 (Pak), 1-0 (WI), 1-2 (SA), 1-0 (Eng), 1-2 (Aus), 1-2 (SL), 1-0 (NZ), 1-1 (SL), 1-1 (SA) and 1-0 (WI).

That translates to an 11-11 record including taking on Australia and South Africa at their peak. In fact pacers James Anderson and Chris Tremlett were around in 2007 too and yet we beat England 1-0.

(For the record against Bangladesh it is 5-0 and Zimbabwe 2-0, so if you add that, then our overseas record becomes 18-11.)

We became world No. 1 in Tests thanks to this superlative period (we always did well at home anyway). Then we won the ODI World Cup which should have done our confidence a world of good.

But instead of getting better, we have crashed to such depths that one would have to go back to the pre-Sunil Gavaskar era to find parallels.

England was better

In a way the 0-4 thrashing we had in England was far far better. Why? Because then, we had plenty of excuses. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are India's greatest opening pair. Without Sehwag, the top order was always suspect.

Zaheer Khan got injured right at the beginning of the first Test and that misfortune continued as we almost had an Injured XI for the whole tour. We also had a new coach in Duncan Fletcher. He was just finding his feet.

What are the excuses for this tour?

Both openers have got fifties as did the Big 3 of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Even captain MS Dhoni chipped in with a 50. Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav bowled like a dream in the first Test. R Ashwin came on the back of some excellent all-round form.

They say we are poor starters, but you can't get much better than 214-2, which happened to be our first innings score in the first Test before we collapsed. In the second Test, Australia were 37-3 after which they were effectively 622-1.

622-1! Have you seen even Bangladesh give those kinds of runs?

India's famed batsmen have let the team down

The Big Three...

Everyone said that when the trio of Tendulkar-Dravid-Laxman would retire, Indian Test cricket would become really bad? But what can be worse than this?

When Australia were at their peak, we were the only team who could give them a fight in their own backyard.

Now the Australian team is in such shambles that they were thrashed by both South Africa and England on home soil. They couldn't even beat New Zealand recently.

Now it has come to such a pass that we are the only team who cannot give them a fight in their own backyard!

The mystery continues...

So what's the way forward? The reason we have come to this pass is that after the England tour K Srikkanth, the chairman of the selectors said that nothing was wrong. The 0-4 was brushed under the carpet as if it was an aberration.

Well, the problems swept under the carpet have got much bigger in Australia.

How a great captain and a great coach and a great batting line up have led to such a huge disaster is one of the biggest mysteries of modern-day cricket.

But now suddenly everything is on the line…

The BCCI's attitude, the selectors' complacency, Dhoni's captaincy, Fletcher's management, the place of the seniors...

God save Indian Test cricket!

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at

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