The Vodafone Test Series, India`s tour of Australia 2011-12 has just come to an end. The manner it has turned out; no Indian would have ever thought or even dreamed of such an ending. Yes, the inevitable has happened. Yes, the worst has happened. India has not only lost the 4 match test series but it has faced a whitewash. India 0, Australia 4. This is India`s 2ndoverseas Test Series whitewash after the disastrous England Tour. Well we all can easily say that it`s just a sport & winning or losing is a part & parcel of the game. That`s absolutely correct. Losing does not matter. But the manner India has lost continuously 8 overseas test matches is definitely concern for it.
Cricket is a religion in India. In-fact according to me, for some it`s even beyond religion. Success and failures are treated in an extreme manner. The Indian team along with the BCCI, the management & the coach together are facing severe criticism at this moment. Disappointment, anger, hate, frustration, sarcasm, embarrassment & much more, there is an outburst of emotions.
This test series was a much awaited & a much anticipated one. For both the sides this was going to be a challenge & both the nations had their own reasons to prove themselves. The Aussies had not down well in the Ashes & in the recent South Africa Tour whereas Indians wanted to erase the memories of their summer tour to England. There had been talks that it was India`s best chance of winning a test series down under as the Australian team had not performed well recently & was in a state of transition. And after all with the greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag in the team & even Zaheer Khan being perfectly fit this time, the expectations as always were high. Seeing the result 0-4 it makes me wonder, with such immense experience & talent, our team could not even afford a single victory? Forget victory, we could even draw a single match either.
The main asset of Indian team has been its batting & this failed in every match of the series. India was not able to build partnerships & hence could not put up a decent score on the board. Sometimes they were even bowled out for less than 200. By this the bowling, which has not been a great strength for India, also took a blow. Rahul Dravid had been in tremendous form in the England tour & was the highest run scorer for 2011. But somehow “The Wall” could not protect his side this time around. VVS Laxman who always kept his best knocks reserved to be played against the Aussies, also failed. Gambhir, Sehwag & Dhoni also had their own share of miseries with the bat. Sachin Tendulkar too didn’t have a great series. But in comparison to others he was a little decent at a run rate of 35+. Virat Kohli was India`s only positive take away in the series. He did bat sensibly in the 3rd test & also scored a 100 in the final match. Yes, Virat was the only Indian to get a century in the series. This shows us that if youngsters are given enough time & opportunity, they can be assets to the team. I would have loved if even Rohit Sharma got a chance to play. He does have the quality & moreover Indian cricketing future lies within these youngsters. Well there is practically no point in talking about how good or bad one played his game. But probably it’s high time we analyze the game & take proper steps so that we don`t have to face such a result again in future.
Talking of Australia`s performances, I got to mention about the captain Micheal Clarke. He has had a dream series for his nation. He also bagged the “Man of the Series” award for being the highest run scorer with 626 runs. His best knock was in the Sydney test where he put up 329 runs unbeaten. The way he was playing he had all chances of breaking Brian Lara`s record of 400 runs. But he didn’t do that. He declared so that Australia could have better chances of winning the match. I truly admire this act of keeping the nation ahead of individual milestones. Immense respect is all what I have for his captaincy, for his sportsmanship & definitely for his batting. He does even not play the Big Bash League or the IPL. Another Aussie who had a wonderful series is the former captain Ricky Ponting. Before the series began he was under enormous pressure due to his form & many Australian veterans had been saying that Ponting should retire soon. But look at the way he has batted. He broke his almost 2 year drought of centuries & also went on to score a double century. Ponting was the second highest run scorer behind Clarke.
Coming to the way the media has carried out this series, I have been a little disappointed, from both the Australian media as well as the Indian. The day before the Sydney test, the Australian media reported about the Monkey Gate Scandal that took place in 2008. It went on blaming Sachin Tendulkar that he mislead the entire act. Be whatever happened, what was the point or need in digging up a 3 years old controversy? At a later stage when India was down 0 – 2, Australian media reported that India had internal problems among their players & there were some kind of rifts going on. Well I am pretty sure such things don’t happen in the Indian dressing room. I do agree that Indian players were well accepted & treated very well. But the above mentioned reports were also unnecessary. The Indian team had been for Go-Karting before the Perth test. The media of both nations made a huge fuss out of it & was reported in an absurd fashion. Again, this was unnecessary.
M. S. Dhoni wanted to have a controversy free tournament & he did have one, except for some small problems coming in by name of Virat Kohli & Ishant Sharma. The reasons are well known to everyone. It’s true that cricketers are provoked to act or say something. But cricket is a gentlemen`s game & cricketers ought to respect that spirit. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble or be it any great player for that matter, they have never shown aggression on or off the field. Legends are not only known for their skills, but mainly for their personality.
Lets get to the bottom line of this series. The senior players & the selection committee are treated as victims for the debacle at this moment. Many cricketing veterans are suggesting that a few senior members should quit & make way for juniors. Some suggesting Dhoni should be removed as captain & many more inputs. This is where the Indian media has acted weird. They have showcased players as if they have done some crime. Let’s remember these are the same players who have served our nation for years together. Let’s not write off them for just a couple of bad series. Well I do not see a point in any member retiring at this point of time. India anyways is not playing its next test match till September 2012. So what`s the gain by making retirements. These players have played brilliantly for such long duration & they deserve to get a glorious farewell. The media & the fans need act gracefully & respectfully whenever any of these senior players retire. At the end of the day cricket is a sport & loosing a series does not make a player criminal.
Cricket is a crazy game I must say. Things go up & down very quickly. Dhoni was praised to be the best captain India ever had after the 2011 World Cup victory. But now he is under grave criticism. Virat Kohli was “The Next Big Thing” until the Australia tour started. When he didn’t perform well in first 2 tests he was written off. But later he did perform well & again is getting the appreciation. Ricky Ponting too was not in a good position prior to the series. But now it seems like he cant to anything wrong. Ah, this is definitively a crazy sport I say.
Well, I happened to go thought some of the suggestions that cricket experts have given for betterment of the Indian cricketing future. Harsha Bhogle, a famous cricket commentator emphasized that India should focus more on domestic cricket like the Ranji Trophy. He also mentions that youngsters should go for a season of county cricket so that they can adopt to overseas conditions in a better manner. Read the full text of Harsha`s post on cricinfo here. Also Lalit Modi, the ex IPL Chairman gave his inputs on his blog. He says India urgently needs to review its game. The review should be done by former players & the BCCI should have a “Director of Cricket for BCCI”. Its a little tough to explain the concepts of Lalit Modi here. But I`d suggest you all to go through his blog for a proper understanding here. Yes, he has made some good & sensible suggestions.
India will be playing a couple of T20 matches & a ODI tri-series between the hosts Australia & Srilanka. The squad chosen is a pretty younger side with likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina & others. Some or most of them will be coming back in 2015 to defend the World Cup. So its a good opportunity for them to understand the conditions there. As an Indian & as a die hard cricket fan, I hope we ll be able to put up a better show in the limited overs edition of the game & prove the world that India is still the World Champions in this format.
Image courtesy: espncricinfo.com