Team India must sport a new look in Adelaide

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 21, 2012 09:16 hrs

​In August 1966 England were trailing West Indies 3-0 after four Tests. They were hopelessly outplayed by the brilliance of Gary Sobers at the peak of his amazing career and his team members - Seymour Nurse, Basil Butcher, Rohan Kanhai, Conrad Hunte, David Holford, Wesley Hall, Charles Griffith and Lance Gibbs - who were no less effective.

There was just the final Test to be played at the Oval and it seemed only a matter of time before West Indies wrapped up the series 4-0 to hand England their worst thrashing at home since Don Bradman's Invincibles won by the same margin in 1948.

Desperate situations sometimes call for desperate measures. The England selectors opted for a major overhaul making five changes from the team that lost the fourth Test at Leeds by an innings and 55 runs. Heading the axed list was the captain Colin Cowdrey.

Also out were other established players in wicket keeper batsman Jim Parks and all rounder Fred Titmus besides two comparative newcomers in Colin Milburn and Derek Underwood. The changes were thus mainly in the batting and spin bowling department. John Murray took Parks' place while Ray Illingworth was the replacement for Titmus. John Edrich was brought back while 23-year-old Dennis Amiss received his first Test cap.

But the most important change related to the captaincy. Brian Close who played his cricket hard in the true Yorkshire manner was the new leader. The selectors obviously felt that to take on Sobers and company England needed a hard as nails man at the helm.

Despite the new look the home team naturally started as underdogs. And yet in 3-1/2 days the England team having undergone a metamorphosis had completed one of the biggest upsets in cricket history by turning the tables on the seemingly unconquerable West Indian side. The hunter became the hunted as the visitors slumped to defeat by an innings and 34 runs.

And almost all the changes paid off. Murray scored 112 figuring with Tom Graveney in a record 217-run partnership for the eighth wicket. Edrich got 35, Illingworth picked up a couple of wickets in each innings while Amiss was out for 17.

But it was Close who was showered with praise for his leadership qualities epitomized by his courage at short leg where he did not flinch while taking the catch to dismiss Sobers for a first ball duck in the second innings even as the great man shaped to hook John Snow. Close made the England players believe that they could get the better of a team that had so far proved too strong for them.

More than 45 years later the Indian team in Australia is facing a rather similar situation. They are 3-0 down with just one Test to be played and are facing the prospect of a clean sweep for the second successive series abroad. Perhaps the time has come again for such desperate situations requiring desperate measures.

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How about a thorough overhaul? The Indians can't do any worse than they are faring now with two innings defeats in a row - one inside four days and the other inside three days. They really are in a position where they stand to lose nothing by experimenting. And who knows - like England at the Oval in 1966 they could stand to gain in more ways than one.

There is already one change at the top with Virender Sehwag taking over the captaincy from MS Dhoni following the latter being banned for one Test. This has also automatically resulted in another change with Wriddhiman Saha taking over behind the stumps. Perhaps the time has come to drop Ishant Sharma who has done little of note and in his place Pragyan Ojha could be picked.

Vinay Kumar should be shown the door with Ravichandran Ashwin coming back into the side. The three seamer and one spinner policy hasn't worked so perhaps it is time to play to our strengths and surprise the Aussies by playing two spinners along with the in-form Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav. After all Indian tweakers have fared rather well at the Adelaide Oval.

Two of VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Gautam Gambhir could be axed with their places going to Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. There is urgent need for starting the rebuilding process and since this takes time who not start right now? Indian cricket has reached the stage where there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. The time has come to take the bold, adventurous and far-sighted approach.

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