Here’s a country that still cannot attract international cricket to its shores. Its cricket league, the PSL, can only boast of retired international players. Its board is bankrupt, relying self-admittedly on its enemy country, India, to bail itself out.
Yet come the quality of players, and Pakistan produces the best in the world. Shaheen Shah Afridi has just become the youngest ever player to become the Sir Garfield Sobers’ ICC player of the year. Babar Azam walks away with the ODI crown and Mohammed Rizwan with the T20 one. No Indian won anything.
India’s premier bowler is Jaspreet Bumrah, but he wasn’t even in the mix. In the mix for Test player of the year was Ashwin, but he doesn’t seem to perform in SENA countries. Virat Kohli called Mohammed Shami one of the top three seamers of the world. Really?! Even Bumrah doesn’t compare with Afridi.
Indian cricket has seen itself rise from the highest highs in Australia to fall to the lowest lows in the T20 World Cup and now the series in South Africa. In Australia, a calm captain, Ajinkya Rahane, won them the crown. His batting form has deserted him, leading almost to the end of his career.
Virat Kohli has been a case in point. He felt he could dictate terms to Saurav Ganguly, but Ganguly is tough as nails. Virat’s own batting form has deserted him, yet he was able to hang in there because he was captain of the team. Shoaib Akhtar has just said that he should have waited for retirement to get married.
There is some merit to the argument. Virat and his wife have been gracing the Page 3 columns almost every day since they came together. Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, and Kumble kept their private lives private. Akhtar feels that Kohli would have hit 120 international centuries without marriage, but now it seems that Kohli would be lucky to cross the 80 century mark.
Kohli and Shastri were aggressive without being humble. Dravid and KL Rahul are humble without being aggressive. The first choice for captain is Rohit Sharma, but half the time he’s unfit. He clearly needs to get into shape. He too seems to put his private life in the forefront. There is no way an unfit player like him should become captain of any format, least of all three formats.
The experiment with KL Rahul has shown that all young names being bandied about for captaincy could prove to be damp squibs. Most of these captaincy wannabes like KL, Pant and Bumrah rose from the IPL. They are best left captaining their sides there.
The T20 world cup is nigh, and based on what happened in last year’s world cup, and with the subsequent shakeup in captaincy and coach, India has a hope in hell there. The deciding Test of the India-England series is this summer, and the Englishmen would be expected to fight like nobody’s business to level the series.
The ODI world cup is slated for next year. Who knows what’s going to happen there? The truth is that Indian cricket is in shambles. Where once Virat was expected to coast to a hundred, now it’s cause for jubilation if he scores a fifty.
Pujara and Rahane have lost all form, and have been given a long run. But there’s nobody to replace them. Batters from the IPL like Yadav and you name it are bandied about as replacements but none cuts it at the international level. KL Rahul has one good Test series and everyone starts talking about him as captaincy material.
Virat Kohli looms large on the side as a ghost. When Ganguly got done in by Greg Chappell, he loomed large on the side. Most of the players supported Ganguly. Now in the spat between Kohli and Ganguly, most of the players are supporting Kohli. Sometimes one wishes that either the captaincy be handed back to Virat or that he retire from cricket altogether.
Indian cricket is in the doldrums. Even in the Kohli-Shastri era, it was doing well but mostly in Test cricket. They never won any ICC trophy, including the Test mace. Our fast bowlers are not in the league of Pakistan’s or South Africa’s. Our spinners have been upended by those of South Africa. What a pity!
The only way to sort out Indian cricket is to tear it out root and branch. We lack genuine all-rounders. Hardik Pandya and Jadeja are tossed around, but they are clearly overrated. Pandya is so unfit that he doesn’t even bowl most of the time.
On the drawing board should be a plan to win the Test series in England, the ODI world cup, and the T20 world cup. The IPL is the curse that bedevils Indian cricket. Ganguly, Jay Shah, and Dravid have not proven themselves to be able man managers. Perhaps they all need to resign.
India might have to go back to the era of Virat and Shastri, but both got too big for their boots. If India does go back to them, then they must become humble for a change. The IPL is like the barbarian at the gate of Indian cricket. They must stave off this barbarian.
But India will not go back to them because in India nothing is done results-oriented. The ends don’t justify the means. So now we are in la la land, a land so never never, that Indian cricket may not recover in it. And by the way, heartiest congratulations to the Pakistanis for almost cleaning up the ICC awards. A sound thrashing awaits India at their hands in the T20 world cup.
India says that Pakistan induces terror in its country, and that is why it does not play it. Is that the real reason or is getting found out the real reason? The Pakistani team is leagues ahead of the Indian team. That’s the stark, naked truth.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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