The two Indias April 15, 2006

The vision we collectively bought into

Earlier posts: intro , 1 , 2 .
59

Earlier posts: intro, 1, 2.

A funny thing happened on my way to this pulpit – I lost my sermon. Or more accurately, found it pre-empted most eloquently by Dileep Premachandran.

Presuming for the sake of argument that the breast-beating over the Test side has to do with Greg Chappell's tenure as coach (a presumption based on Ashok Malik's kick-off argument about the coach's Machiavellian machinations), what exactly are we talking about?

Under the Chappell regime, India has played 11 Tests, won five, and lost two. Excuse me, this is reason enough for us to break out the sackcloth and ashes why?

During this period, India has played 31 ODIs, won 21, and lost 10 – a 67.74 per cent winning record as opposed to the 52.31 percentage the team totted up during the John Wright-Saurav Ganguly era. A 15 per cent uptick in winning percentage is not, in a nation that has burnt stadia and stoned players following ODI defeats, cause for more widespread celebration why?

I forget. Test cricket is the real cricket. It is what separates the boys from the men. The pajama version is good enough for the less traditional among us – but it is victory in Test cricket that endures; it is in the Test arena that memories morph into legend.

After all, everyone remembers Eden Gardens for the web of mystery Harbhajan Singh spun, for VVS Laxman's epochal knock, for Rahul Dravid's sublime second fiddle – but who remembers the score line of our last time-limit thrash?

That, or something akin, is the argument advanced when you presume to celebrate one-day success. To those advancing it, I have a question: Where were you when India and England, vying for the number two slot in world Test rankings, were playing in Nagpur, in Chandigarh? Why, in Mumbai, did we see more English fans than locals? Do you even go to watch Test cricket any more?

Not in your numbers, you don't. And by not turning up for Tests, and having to be turned away from houseful stadiums for ODIs, what signal are you sending to the administrators of the game?

There is, in every industry, two groups that take responsibility for the final produce – the producer, and the consumer. And of the two, it is the consumer that dictates. There was a time when we indicated that we saw a car as a lifetime purchase; that the car we bought after much agonizing needed to last a lifetime. We got the Ambassador. Times changed; we indicated a preference for sportier models – so look what's clogging our roads now.

Cricket is an industry, fans are the consumers, and the fan has over the past several years clearly indicated that he prefers the shorter form of the game. So again, we are surprised when the BCCI focuses on one-day cricket, at the expense of the longer form of the game, why?

Are we not getting exactly what we asked for?

Think back to late October 2000. John Wright was making an outside run for the job of national coach. He walked into the meeting with the BCCI honchos, and the first thing he said was, "Gentlemen, let's not talk of my salary; let us, instead, talk of what we can do with this Indian team."

He then outlined a vision of a national side that could shed its tag of poor travelers, a team that could perform in all countries and all conditions – and he was not talking of one-day cricket.

He sold the BCCI on that vision, and we collectively bought into it. We celebrated the first overseas win in a generation, we celebrated a Homeric epic against the all-conquering Aussies, we danced in the streets when the team fought Australia to a standstill Down Under and we joined the proverbial cow and jumped over the moon when our team won a historic Test series in Pakistan.

Fast forward, now, to May 2005, when the BCCI honchos met to select Wright's successor. Each applicant was asked to make a presentation – and the winning theme, authored by Greg Chappell, was how to take India to the top of the podium in World Cup 2007.

It was this vision the BCCI bought into (and in this age of calculated vilification, it might be worth pointing out that it was the previous administration that made the decision); it was this goal that was endorsed and, significantly, it was World Cup 2007 that signposts the end of Chappell's contract.

Any reasonable analysis would tell you we are nowhere near Cup-winning form yet; the same analysis however would also tell you that in the course of 11 months and 31 one dayers, we have taken significant steps towards getting there.

Before Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell teamed up, Dravid had led India in 12 ODIs; his scoreline read 5 wins to 6 defeats and one no result. The Dravid-Chappell combine has now been at the helm for 24 ODIs; the team has won 17 and lost 7. And significantly, a team that routinely folded when asked to chase has just stitched together a world record streak of 15 straight wins batting second.

Stop the presses, folks -- the cup is half full.

Yes, the other half is empty. The two Tests we have lost during this period have been identical, in that both required the team to bat through day five against quality bowling sides.

It is in the fourth innings that patience and endurance, more than talent even, is tested – and twice we have failed the test. So when was the last time we passed? When, last, did we manage to save a Test batting fourth? As Dileep points out, any talk of deterioration implies that an idyllic state existed previously. Did it?

What those two failures, seen in context of the matches that preceded them, has shown is that Rahul Dravid alone has the cricketing nous, and the bottomless reservoir of patience, needed in such situations.

In the one day format, the team has thrown up a plethora of natural leaders – Pathan, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Raina, even the rejuvenated Harbhajan. In Tests, Dravid leads – but none of his mates has shown the legs to follow.

A leader with no followers is merely a lonely man taking a walk – and for the better part of a decade, Dravid in the Test arena has been just that.

I do not mean to suggest that Tests are not important. Nor that we abdicate the five-day game. But if we want our Test team to be the equal of the best, a good place to start is by saying it; by putting warm bodies in the seats.

That signals the producers that you want an all-round product, which in turn dictates step two: that the BCCI makes Test success (a firm grip on the number two slot, for starters) a priority item on the agenda of the team and its coach, which today it is not, and schedules more frequent Test series against significant opposition.

It is then up to the coach, the captain, the selectors, the team management, to do for the Test side what they have done for the one-day squad: identify the right people for the right slots, blood them, back them, hone their skill sets and meet the targets set for them.

In the interim, the one-day side – whose lack of mental strength, killer instinct and suchlike shibboleths we have long bemoaned – appears to have finally reached the corner, if not actually turned it.

Must we still gripe, and groan, and seek Machiavellian conspiracies behind every sightscreen?

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Krish on April 28, 2006, 20:34 GMT

    Prem: Let us concede that Greg has not paid enough attention to test cricket compared to ODIs. But have not the recently inculcated (into Team India) virtues of ODI cricket Viz. Improvement in fielding, Swifter running between the wickets etc. percolated into the test team also as we find nowadays?

  • Krish on April 28, 2006, 17:43 GMT

    Prem, you hit the nail on the head. Priorities change with time, with followers, administrators, Coaches and players in different proportions. When we talk of priorities of the coaches, either chosen by themselves or impressed on them by the administrators, records show that their concentration is on their priorities thus making the less-prioritized segment suffering. Will that imply or push us to the funny (or is it idiotic)suggestion of having a coach for each version of cricket with their own priorities on the qualities of players choosen for the task?

  • Venkatesh on April 28, 2006, 2:10 GMT

    I agree with Dileep's asessment - we are a poor Test team with only one player (Dravid) worthy of selection into other Test teams - we are currently riding a rank higher than form primarily due to our past performances against an Australian team without McGrath and Warne and a less than stellar Pakistan - surrounding this are test series against NZ at home where we were clearly second-class, a home series against Pakistan that we could not win, a Test series against Australia again at home where we won one Test (and lost 2) thanks to an atrocious pitch in Mumbai and now recently Test losses against a second-string English side and our pathetic display in the Karachi Test are symptoms of a larger problem - we are indeed a poor Test playing nation.

    Our players continue to bask in overadulation of a billion people without realizing that many of them are not worthy of getting selected to another Test playing team except perhaps Bangladesh and Zimbwabwe - we have hired an expensive coach whose only goal is the 2007 ODI World Cup and not the current and intervening Tests and ODIs - this gives him a free hand in extreme experimentation. Unfortunately the players have not been given the same medium-term goal - Players have to fight not for their country's glory but to hold on to their places - disorientation will set in and we will see this when we tour the Carribean next month - Indian cricket is shy on abilities and hardworking individuals, expect this team to lose both the Tests and the ODIs in the Windies.

  • WW on April 21, 2006, 22:09 GMT

    Now that Greg Chappel’s resemblance to Machiavelli has been ruled as purely coincidental repeatedly through the article, lets proceed to analyze his tenure over the last season, I believe the purpose of it was to defend the seemingly lost fighting skills in the test arena while highlighting the success Indian team had in ODIs over the same period.

    To me, the success in one day arena is owed to three players, Pathan, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. Apart from a couple of contributions from Raina, every success the ODI team had enjoyed this season is owed to the technically perfect batting Pathan has rather successfully displayed in the initial overs when the fielding restrictions are on, The form of a life time that Yuvraj seems to be in, and the finishing skills and heart displayed by Dhoni on numerous occasions. Yes we have had contributions from dravid , sachin and bowlers on occasions, but what separated victory from loss was the contributions of these threesome.

    Now were does chapell stand regarding his contribution to see the above three are able to display their wares and contribute as well as they have been?

    He did promote pathan up the order during the lanka series, but dravid vehemently stressed the fact that it was Sachin’s idea to send him at No.3, a position where Pathan seems to be more equipped to deliver than most of his teammates for whom batting is their bread and butter.

    He did back Yuvraj Singh through a lean path he was going through during the later part of Srilanka and south Africa series, admittedly a bit irritatingly but Yuvraj did come through, winning matches all by himself, some times even looking like the only batsmen who could play SA bowlers other than Pathan.

    And Dhoni proved himself to be the killer of bowlers, albeit so far on pitches suited to batsmen, with out them threatening to use the pace, bounce and swing to their advantage as they could on pitches we don’t see in the sub continent. No matter how flattered we are with the sheer size of his heart and biceps, the way he defends, and the way he was shielded by chapell himself against SA, it seems his final ascendancy to levels occupied by the likes of Gilchrist will have to be delayed till he proves himself on those grounds, against the bowling of a Ntini,clark or bond in helpful conditions.

    So that leaves us with one contribution Chappel has made to the ODI success of late, his willingness to stick with players struggling with form, like what he did for yuvraj. He did it for an extended period with Sehwag and kaif finally giving up and dropping them both after a defeat. So it could as well be argued that it is the success that the big three had that had let him experiment the way he had been doing it, not the other way around. Through out the England series, it felt like India were playing with nine players given the form sehwag and kaif were in, and they were backed even when the chances of their contributing looked remote. So the theory of fielding the best 11 to bring victory was shot, in favour of giving these two every possible chance to come back to form, at a cost mind you, risking a loss every time they went out with such a combination and it finally happened at the steel city. It could well be argued as sehwag himself admitted, that it could have been a better ploy to see if they can sit out and analyze what was going wrong and find some other platform other than the national side where so much is at stake to find their form.

    On to the strategic capabilities from cricketing skills, Dravid has proved himself to be the perfect side kick to Chappell. He is the consummate south Indian Brahmin, Thoughtful yet articulate, talented yet determined, Intelligent yet thoroughly professional. But he is still not your fearless leader who would burn down the establishment or fight against all authority to protect his values and instincts. He can be dominated and manipulated as beautifully done by chapell albeit showing some positive results. There was huge chemistry mismatch between him and the indomitable ganguly that has led to the spat and chapell’s command over the selector borad and dravid seems to have driven Ganguly to oblivion. Given Kaif’s and sehwag’s repeated failures the rigid stance against Ganguly will sit on the back burner only as long as India continues its success, and once the side is exposed against better teams on more challenging tracks, the issue will be brought up and rightly so.

    Why?, here are the reasons… Ganguly even given his reputation for his attitude akin to what the king had to the masses and his perceived weakness against short pitched bowling, gave the Indian team all that it had missed in the past, fighting spirit, killer instinct, and most of all it was in him to protect the players against any affect the servility the country has a whole have towards white skin. He always stood up to anybody who came across his way and was never afraid to pay the fines that came with it. He was the fearless, indomitable lion that India badly needed at that time. The killer instinct the Indian team shows now has a lot to do with his blue blood and royal attitude. It is really strange that we have bought into the theory that he is bad for the team’s chemistry when he is the one who blooded, supported and developed several members of this team. I wonder if ever there was a secret ballot in the current Indian team to vote for chappell or ganguly, who will get the most votes?...

  • marcus on April 19, 2006, 3:21 GMT

    Amit

    you are absolutely right. I don't know what I was thinking; after all, I've made that same argument myself several times.

  • Awais Misri on April 18, 2006, 23:57 GMT

    The Indians team recent success has generally been based upon perfromances by Dhoni and Yuvraj, whose natural game of striking ths ball is only a viable option on dead Indian and Pakistani pitches, on slower pitches (as those in the West Indies or Sri Lanka) they will struggle as they will in on pitches on which the balls move around more (read South African and English picthes). I know its only one match, but evidence can be seen from the Indians failure to score 200 in the 1st match in Abu Dhabi

  • sid dasgupta on April 18, 2006, 13:48 GMT

    When asked about Saurav Ganguly, all that was said was-"It is never the road for end of anyone. I am not chairman of selectors, and for me to make any blanket statement would be wrong" .Dravid said this on 17th April, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi match. Do we see another budding cricketing politician in the making by this type of a statement? Why can he not say clearly that he does not like Saurav to be a part of the team? As a captain we all know that he has a very large say. Where is Mr Decent hiding? Surely this is NOT the vision that we want for the future.

  • sanjay on April 18, 2006, 4:54 GMT

    This is quite misleading that Indian cricket is loosing interest on 5 days match, just because they have lost couple of tests and win more ODI in last few months. Credit must be given to Chappel for implementing his strategy for the success in ODI. However, the same strategy will work for test only if the same team combination will gain a lot of experience. Because, test cricket requires lot more mental stiffness and consistency which a player can cultivate by experience. Therefore, this young team should be given more chance before they do the same as they are dong in ODI. Again, no one will disagree that it took a while for Sachin to score the first hundred in ODI, yet he has the highest number of ODI hundred. Therefore, let’s stop speculating about the team’s capability or Chappel’s ability. Give them time, and let them perform. Let’s not be a nerd to judge someone so early. I am sure, few overseas test win will let critics wonder why opponents are weak rather than India is getting stronger.

  • Bhushan on April 18, 2006, 4:42 GMT

    I do not see how the popularity of ODIs and hence the vision for 2007 World cup have been the culprits for Team India's decline, if any, in test cricket.

    India have never been a great test team. They were at best a good team at home and an average team overseas. We won overseas when we had a good middle order and one match winning bowler with a decent supporting cast. There were very few occassions the team survived when faced with swing and seam friendly conditions.

    The Wright-Gangula era instilled a fighting spirit that the previous teams lacked and led to an improvement in the both forms of cricket but more importantly in tests. But towards the end of his tenure Wright was disappointed that the team took a few steps back after the tied series in Australia and historic win in Pakistan. He didn't see the same discipline and attitude that helped the team with those significant accomplishments. Any relative decline that we can focus on probably started then.

    Today, any decline you want to attribute to, attribute it to the form of some of the batsmen and over dependence on Rahul Dravid but don't get into the economics of the game. It is just too far fetched.

  • Mr. Arvind Agarwal on April 17, 2006, 23:15 GMT

    Prem is sort of excusing Chappell for the failures in Mumbia and Karachi. Wright improved overseas results but didn’t win enough at home. Similarly, Chappell can’t be expected to work on both the ODI team and the test team!! Indirectly he blames the fans and BCCI for ignoring test cricket (Apparently the fans have not coming in sufficient numbers to test stadia and their protests have not been loud enough!!). He implies that coach, captain, selectors, etc. are waiting for BCCI to make test cricket a greater priority before they act decisively. Surely it can’t be right. Somehow, BCCI is not making an issue of tests and these worthies are not bothered?? If faults are not highlighted, it seems the test team will be ignored or at worse vandalized by inappropriate selections. Bring in the “right people for the right slots” and I will agree. Let’s review the team. There are a few inspirational performers already in it (Dravid, Kumble). Some major batting figures could be revived or replaced by form players with hunger and aptitude. Prem will be surprised with what Indian players have already done in say Manchester 2002, Guyana 2002, Kolkata 2002, so on (in other words, playing out time to save a match).

  • Krish on April 28, 2006, 20:34 GMT

    Prem: Let us concede that Greg has not paid enough attention to test cricket compared to ODIs. But have not the recently inculcated (into Team India) virtues of ODI cricket Viz. Improvement in fielding, Swifter running between the wickets etc. percolated into the test team also as we find nowadays?

  • Krish on April 28, 2006, 17:43 GMT

    Prem, you hit the nail on the head. Priorities change with time, with followers, administrators, Coaches and players in different proportions. When we talk of priorities of the coaches, either chosen by themselves or impressed on them by the administrators, records show that their concentration is on their priorities thus making the less-prioritized segment suffering. Will that imply or push us to the funny (or is it idiotic)suggestion of having a coach for each version of cricket with their own priorities on the qualities of players choosen for the task?

  • Venkatesh on April 28, 2006, 2:10 GMT

    I agree with Dileep's asessment - we are a poor Test team with only one player (Dravid) worthy of selection into other Test teams - we are currently riding a rank higher than form primarily due to our past performances against an Australian team without McGrath and Warne and a less than stellar Pakistan - surrounding this are test series against NZ at home where we were clearly second-class, a home series against Pakistan that we could not win, a Test series against Australia again at home where we won one Test (and lost 2) thanks to an atrocious pitch in Mumbai and now recently Test losses against a second-string English side and our pathetic display in the Karachi Test are symptoms of a larger problem - we are indeed a poor Test playing nation.

    Our players continue to bask in overadulation of a billion people without realizing that many of them are not worthy of getting selected to another Test playing team except perhaps Bangladesh and Zimbwabwe - we have hired an expensive coach whose only goal is the 2007 ODI World Cup and not the current and intervening Tests and ODIs - this gives him a free hand in extreme experimentation. Unfortunately the players have not been given the same medium-term goal - Players have to fight not for their country's glory but to hold on to their places - disorientation will set in and we will see this when we tour the Carribean next month - Indian cricket is shy on abilities and hardworking individuals, expect this team to lose both the Tests and the ODIs in the Windies.

  • WW on April 21, 2006, 22:09 GMT

    Now that Greg Chappel’s resemblance to Machiavelli has been ruled as purely coincidental repeatedly through the article, lets proceed to analyze his tenure over the last season, I believe the purpose of it was to defend the seemingly lost fighting skills in the test arena while highlighting the success Indian team had in ODIs over the same period.

    To me, the success in one day arena is owed to three players, Pathan, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh. Apart from a couple of contributions from Raina, every success the ODI team had enjoyed this season is owed to the technically perfect batting Pathan has rather successfully displayed in the initial overs when the fielding restrictions are on, The form of a life time that Yuvraj seems to be in, and the finishing skills and heart displayed by Dhoni on numerous occasions. Yes we have had contributions from dravid , sachin and bowlers on occasions, but what separated victory from loss was the contributions of these threesome.

    Now were does chapell stand regarding his contribution to see the above three are able to display their wares and contribute as well as they have been?

    He did promote pathan up the order during the lanka series, but dravid vehemently stressed the fact that it was Sachin’s idea to send him at No.3, a position where Pathan seems to be more equipped to deliver than most of his teammates for whom batting is their bread and butter.

    He did back Yuvraj Singh through a lean path he was going through during the later part of Srilanka and south Africa series, admittedly a bit irritatingly but Yuvraj did come through, winning matches all by himself, some times even looking like the only batsmen who could play SA bowlers other than Pathan.

    And Dhoni proved himself to be the killer of bowlers, albeit so far on pitches suited to batsmen, with out them threatening to use the pace, bounce and swing to their advantage as they could on pitches we don’t see in the sub continent. No matter how flattered we are with the sheer size of his heart and biceps, the way he defends, and the way he was shielded by chapell himself against SA, it seems his final ascendancy to levels occupied by the likes of Gilchrist will have to be delayed till he proves himself on those grounds, against the bowling of a Ntini,clark or bond in helpful conditions.

    So that leaves us with one contribution Chappel has made to the ODI success of late, his willingness to stick with players struggling with form, like what he did for yuvraj. He did it for an extended period with Sehwag and kaif finally giving up and dropping them both after a defeat. So it could as well be argued that it is the success that the big three had that had let him experiment the way he had been doing it, not the other way around. Through out the England series, it felt like India were playing with nine players given the form sehwag and kaif were in, and they were backed even when the chances of their contributing looked remote. So the theory of fielding the best 11 to bring victory was shot, in favour of giving these two every possible chance to come back to form, at a cost mind you, risking a loss every time they went out with such a combination and it finally happened at the steel city. It could well be argued as sehwag himself admitted, that it could have been a better ploy to see if they can sit out and analyze what was going wrong and find some other platform other than the national side where so much is at stake to find their form.

    On to the strategic capabilities from cricketing skills, Dravid has proved himself to be the perfect side kick to Chappell. He is the consummate south Indian Brahmin, Thoughtful yet articulate, talented yet determined, Intelligent yet thoroughly professional. But he is still not your fearless leader who would burn down the establishment or fight against all authority to protect his values and instincts. He can be dominated and manipulated as beautifully done by chapell albeit showing some positive results. There was huge chemistry mismatch between him and the indomitable ganguly that has led to the spat and chapell’s command over the selector borad and dravid seems to have driven Ganguly to oblivion. Given Kaif’s and sehwag’s repeated failures the rigid stance against Ganguly will sit on the back burner only as long as India continues its success, and once the side is exposed against better teams on more challenging tracks, the issue will be brought up and rightly so.

    Why?, here are the reasons… Ganguly even given his reputation for his attitude akin to what the king had to the masses and his perceived weakness against short pitched bowling, gave the Indian team all that it had missed in the past, fighting spirit, killer instinct, and most of all it was in him to protect the players against any affect the servility the country has a whole have towards white skin. He always stood up to anybody who came across his way and was never afraid to pay the fines that came with it. He was the fearless, indomitable lion that India badly needed at that time. The killer instinct the Indian team shows now has a lot to do with his blue blood and royal attitude. It is really strange that we have bought into the theory that he is bad for the team’s chemistry when he is the one who blooded, supported and developed several members of this team. I wonder if ever there was a secret ballot in the current Indian team to vote for chappell or ganguly, who will get the most votes?...

  • marcus on April 19, 2006, 3:21 GMT

    Amit

    you are absolutely right. I don't know what I was thinking; after all, I've made that same argument myself several times.

  • Awais Misri on April 18, 2006, 23:57 GMT

    The Indians team recent success has generally been based upon perfromances by Dhoni and Yuvraj, whose natural game of striking ths ball is only a viable option on dead Indian and Pakistani pitches, on slower pitches (as those in the West Indies or Sri Lanka) they will struggle as they will in on pitches on which the balls move around more (read South African and English picthes). I know its only one match, but evidence can be seen from the Indians failure to score 200 in the 1st match in Abu Dhabi

  • sid dasgupta on April 18, 2006, 13:48 GMT

    When asked about Saurav Ganguly, all that was said was-"It is never the road for end of anyone. I am not chairman of selectors, and for me to make any blanket statement would be wrong" .Dravid said this on 17th April, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi match. Do we see another budding cricketing politician in the making by this type of a statement? Why can he not say clearly that he does not like Saurav to be a part of the team? As a captain we all know that he has a very large say. Where is Mr Decent hiding? Surely this is NOT the vision that we want for the future.

  • sanjay on April 18, 2006, 4:54 GMT

    This is quite misleading that Indian cricket is loosing interest on 5 days match, just because they have lost couple of tests and win more ODI in last few months. Credit must be given to Chappel for implementing his strategy for the success in ODI. However, the same strategy will work for test only if the same team combination will gain a lot of experience. Because, test cricket requires lot more mental stiffness and consistency which a player can cultivate by experience. Therefore, this young team should be given more chance before they do the same as they are dong in ODI. Again, no one will disagree that it took a while for Sachin to score the first hundred in ODI, yet he has the highest number of ODI hundred. Therefore, let’s stop speculating about the team’s capability or Chappel’s ability. Give them time, and let them perform. Let’s not be a nerd to judge someone so early. I am sure, few overseas test win will let critics wonder why opponents are weak rather than India is getting stronger.

  • Bhushan on April 18, 2006, 4:42 GMT

    I do not see how the popularity of ODIs and hence the vision for 2007 World cup have been the culprits for Team India's decline, if any, in test cricket.

    India have never been a great test team. They were at best a good team at home and an average team overseas. We won overseas when we had a good middle order and one match winning bowler with a decent supporting cast. There were very few occassions the team survived when faced with swing and seam friendly conditions.

    The Wright-Gangula era instilled a fighting spirit that the previous teams lacked and led to an improvement in the both forms of cricket but more importantly in tests. But towards the end of his tenure Wright was disappointed that the team took a few steps back after the tied series in Australia and historic win in Pakistan. He didn't see the same discipline and attitude that helped the team with those significant accomplishments. Any relative decline that we can focus on probably started then.

    Today, any decline you want to attribute to, attribute it to the form of some of the batsmen and over dependence on Rahul Dravid but don't get into the economics of the game. It is just too far fetched.

  • Mr. Arvind Agarwal on April 17, 2006, 23:15 GMT

    Prem is sort of excusing Chappell for the failures in Mumbia and Karachi. Wright improved overseas results but didn’t win enough at home. Similarly, Chappell can’t be expected to work on both the ODI team and the test team!! Indirectly he blames the fans and BCCI for ignoring test cricket (Apparently the fans have not coming in sufficient numbers to test stadia and their protests have not been loud enough!!). He implies that coach, captain, selectors, etc. are waiting for BCCI to make test cricket a greater priority before they act decisively. Surely it can’t be right. Somehow, BCCI is not making an issue of tests and these worthies are not bothered?? If faults are not highlighted, it seems the test team will be ignored or at worse vandalized by inappropriate selections. Bring in the “right people for the right slots” and I will agree. Let’s review the team. There are a few inspirational performers already in it (Dravid, Kumble). Some major batting figures could be revived or replaced by form players with hunger and aptitude. Prem will be surprised with what Indian players have already done in say Manchester 2002, Guyana 2002, Kolkata 2002, so on (in other words, playing out time to save a match).

  • Kiran on April 17, 2006, 20:03 GMT

    Article #1 was an exercise in demagoguery but the the follow-ups have been excellent pieces of work.

    Especially this article, where PP asked the valid question of when, if ever, India had managed to bat out a Test to salvage a draw. In recent memory, I would say never - and this is even when we had master Test grafters like Sidhu and Manjrekar in the side. So, I guess all the hysteria about India's dip in form - because of the two Tests we failed to save - is just media frenzy. [ a confession here - I was taken in by it,too, initially .Though I grant that with a side as strong (on paper, at least ) in batting as ours, surviving a day does not sound like too tough an ask]

    lets hope we find more batsmen with the ability to bat out a day while not losing our formidable odi form.

  • Rishi Patel on April 17, 2006, 15:58 GMT

    Look at Chappels record and then tell me if hes predominantly a ODI minded player.

  • amit Patil on April 17, 2006, 13:35 GMT

    Hi Ambar: Gavaskar, Boycott scored in an era of some great fast bowlers. Name a really good fast bowler in the last 5 yrs (other than Mcgrath and Bond) who is really threatening. . And tell me what are the scores of Dravid against them. Okay maybe you can add Asif too. But how many runs did Dravid score against him in the 3rd test when the wicket had some bite. Yeah we won in Australia on flat pitches and 2nd string attack. My point is the runs scored by people in last 5-6 yrs are not on difficult pitches or against some great fast bowlers. Okay maybe Kumble is our best slow ball bowler. Have you see Warne's record outside Australia ( esp. in Pakistan and Southafrica) or for that sake Murli's record ( well i dont know how legally he bowls). we will never win matches abroad until we have a genuine wicket taker. Not someone raised on cracking Indian wickets. If you want to discuss it further, you can email me at doobya@rediffmail.com take care amit

  • Sportsfreak on April 17, 2006, 12:46 GMT

    It's OK; we have the same problem in New Zealand.

  • Niren Shetty on April 16, 2006, 23:51 GMT

    Prem, I don’t think we bought Greg C just for the World Cup 2007 and BCCI or any Panel members who elected him at any point asked him to ignore Test cricket.

    No one can fully defend himself from critic’s intent on splitting hairs, so we should be charitable to Greg C and not look for despicable meanings where none were intended. But I happen to think that he could easily have expressed himself clearly on this subject, and should be criticized for going off in directions.

    Is Greg C a stereotype? He can’t handle both One day and Test Team? That could cut both ways, too... It's true that the characteristics that people assign to stereotypes are not always negative, but by the very definition, stereotypes are not true. I think that's why you're seeing people "make a big deal" out of it.

    Of course there's no questioning that certain things are statistically true... I am not arguing the truth of your statements, only their advocation.

  • Aditya Anchuri on April 16, 2006, 22:20 GMT

    My reason for saying that the decline in Tests is a myth is because we have actually managed to win abroad in the recent past...I would trade that for a less convincing home record any day. During the 90s, winning abroad was something the team would dream about...as Sanjay Manjrekar once pointed out. What my point was that nothing has changed under GC-Dravid if you compare it to Wright-Ganguly...at least, we can't tell at this point because we haven't played enough Tests under this regime, not to mention any abroad.

  • marcus on April 16, 2006, 14:33 GMT

    amit

    Do you mean to say that Boycott, Gavaskar and Barrington aren't great batsmen because they didn't attack? All these batsmen scored mountains of runs and allowed their more agressive counterparts to score as well, which in itself can be a sign of greatness. A batsman's value is worth more than just his average. And I seriously doubt whether any Indian spinners have outstanding overseas records. By that logic, India have never had a great spin bowler, let alone three playing at the same time, right?

  • ambar on April 16, 2006, 14:01 GMT

    Oh so the decline in tests is a myth right? When is the last time we lost a test match at HOME against an English team (let me see, was it 1985?)- not to mention one that is missing its 2 best batsmen and 2 frontline bowlers? We used to win test series against such teams hands down even during the Sachin-Azhar days. The argument that tests don't matter since we have "bought into" GC's vision for the world cup and anyways noone turns up for the tests is ridiculous to say the least. By that token, shall we also "weight" our ODI victories by that criteria: as in, England and its fans care two hoots about their team's ODI succeses in head-to-head series - so our wins against them in ODIs should count for zilch right? It happens every time - we lose pathetically in a test match, the team is roundly condemned, and then we go and win a bunch of mickey-mouse ODIs and all is forgotten. And of course, lest we forget, when we did run up against a team that came to India just to play an ODI series, we DREW, did not win. Of course, we lost 2 matches due to the fans in Kolkata and their impact on Greg's finger and pitches that "bounced like in Durban" (we know what Mark Boucher had to say to that particular ridiculous excuse). A word of advice: let's reserve judgment on the ODI side till we (a) win a few matches outside the sub-continent, or (b) do well in a tournament instead of meaningless series that noone, least of all our worthy opponents, is interested in. The ODI team seems to be gearing up well, but let's keep our fingers crossed for a bit. And as far as the test team is concerned - there is a real need to go back to the drawing boards, esp. on batting. As for our fans - well they would trade 1 test win against Pak in Lahore or Karachi for 10 ODI victories against England at Indore or Jamshedpur. And a little while back, we were winning the odd one in Multan, Adelaide and Oval. And we did it with blokes like Zaheer, Balaji, Nehra and Kumble. So all that talk of lacking an express bowler and therefore not winning test matches is just baloney and reveals our collective amnesia. What we have done building from those victories that NO Indian team ever had even dared to think about? Where is Balaji, and are Zaheer and Nehra really finished, or are they the scapegoat of a ridiculous "philosophy"? And is 7-0-72-0 VRV Singh our "new" philosophy, just because he is 20 years old? Let's have less philosophy, and start winning some tests that matter.

  • amit on April 16, 2006, 12:37 GMT

    Well, I totally agree that we are great in ODI but not in tests and it has more to do with bowling that batting. ODI's are won by batsmen while tests by bowlers. In ODIs, the maximum overs a bowler can bowl is 10 while in tests there is no limit. No matter what people and statistics say that Dravid is a great test batsmen, I beg to differ. Yeah he can bat for hours..or for days... but does he have the skills to decimate an attack. Over the last 5 yrs or so there has been a decline of great fast bowlers. Wasim, Waqar, Ambrose, Donald, McGrath, Pollock are slowly fading away. I have rarely seen Dravid dominating any of them. I have seen him struggling against likes of Asif in helpful conditions. When we won a test in Australia, there was no Warne or Mccgrath in their attack. Well what happend to India, last time the aussies were here.Yeah Dravid is a solid batsmen but he ain't that great. If you run a regression analysis you will realise the steady upswing in runs scored by people like Pointing, Dravid, etc it will have a significat correlation with flat pitches and decline of the bowlers. Well as far as owr bowling is concerned in tests we are pathetic. Our best bowler is on Mr. Kumble. Well he has the numbers but when the hell did he win a us a match when we were defending like some 300 odd. Even with 750 on board on a spinning Sydney we could not get the Aussies out. Ok he is our highest wicket taker but what can he do outside India. I dont remeber more than 3-4 instances where is has been good outside India. Similar is the case with Harbhajan. Go through is stats and see how many caught and bowled wickets he has.. Yeah in ODIs we can hide our bowling with our batting and our fielding but not in the tests and nothing great is going to happen untill we find some really good bowler say Munaf Patel.. or a genuine spinner like warne

  • Pranav on April 16, 2006, 10:01 GMT

    Good and quite logical!

  • Sillypointer on April 16, 2006, 7:21 GMT

    This is an interesting debate. At the end of the day, no matter what the market space, the product sells itself. There are number of reasons why the one day game is the more popular than test cricket in the subcontinent. An outcome is reached within a day. In this day and age, it is not practical to expect the masses to throng to the stadiums all five days of a test match abandoning their daily lives, no matter how passionate they are about their sport. One day cricket provides a viable alternative with a certain outcome and with the rules favoring the batsmen, it provides a high scoring affair with a number of boundaries. Now, we can sit here and admire the virtues of Sachin Tendulkar negotiating a 7-2 off side field with the England bowlers hoping to "bore him out" while their coach and the captain spin it as a brilliant strategy, or the artistic brilliance with which Rahul Dravid leaves the out-swingers outside the off stump on his way to a breathtaking start of 5 runs from 52 balls, but the cricket watching public of the subcontinent clearly prefer the Sachin Tendulakr who shreds Shoaib Malik to pieces, albeit aided by the fielding restrictions of the limited overs cricket. Far be it for any one to scoff their tastes and preferences.

    This is not an entirely foreign concept. All three major sports in the US (NBA - Basketball, NFL - American Football, and MLB - Baseball) have continuously changed their rules over the years to appeal to their consumers better and every rule they have ever changed has been to increase the scoring in each of these sports. I am not saying Cricket needs to emulate these sports, but there is a reason why they do this. Simply put, scoring and scoring fast inherently appeals to an average sports fan, no matter what the sport. So, while the majority of the world cricketers with the exception of Shahid Afridi insist that test cricket is a true test of ones calibre, limited overs cricket has overtaken test cricket in popularity for reasons that are more basic and practical rather than aesthetic and pure. Using Prem's analogy, the consumer in the subcontinent clearly prefers the limited overs product. It is the same reason why a run of the mill Bollywood production draws larger crowds than say a Satyajit Ray masterpeice. I don't blame the BCCI or Chappel-Dravid duo for focusing on the one day version more than test cricket and targeting their efforts towards the World Cup, after all they are merely appealing to their consumers. While Mathew Hoggard might feel that winning the Ashes is more appealing than winning the World Cup, for he has a snow ball's chance in hell in winning the World Cup, India and its supporters would like nothing better than to see their team hoist the World Cup that has been eluding them ever since the Kapil's Devils stunned the world in 84.

    As for the recent losses of the Indian team in test cricket, I think Prem is right on the mark about Dravid being the only batsman who grasps the nuances of test cricket on the Indian side and the team is overly dependent on him to bail them out or win matches. On the other hand, Australia has shown how they can integrate the one day and five day versions effectively with the likes of Gilchrist, Ponting, Hayden and Symmonds forcing positive results with aggressive batting even in the longer version. We know the influence of one day cricket on test cricket has been more positive than negative as evident by the decrease in the number of draws in test cricket. After all, the current Australian reign in both versions of the sport was first triggered by their success in the limited overs Cricket, with their first World Cup win in 87, and carried over to Test Cricket.

  • proctor on April 16, 2006, 6:41 GMT

    India has done quite well recently in ODIs.

    England in India India won 5-1 India in Pakistan India won 4-1 SA in India Tied 2-2 SL in India India won 6-1

    V'con Triseries India in Zim India won 2-0 NZ v India in Zim India lost 1-2

    IOC Cup Triseries India in SL India lost 0-3 India v WI in SL India won 2-0

    The wins have come mostly in sub-continental conditions and/or against weaker opposition. SA in SA and Aus in Aus are better tests. I'm not knocking down the team, just pointing out the obvious.

  • Magesh on April 16, 2006, 4:31 GMT

    I have just one complaint against the current team in helm - GC, RD and More - they are out in the open saying that they dont want Ganguly back whatever the situation might be. This, I think, is a very bad statement to make. It is okay to drop him as it was done - but if there are slots available and if he performs well in domestic cricket, he should still be considered. If he is not, that proves that Chappell is the most powerful guy who has the final say on things - since its he who has problems with Ganguly.

    Now, where will Ganguly fit in? Can we take Uttappa's one match and say that he is the answer to our opening problems? Sehwag is struggling.. if Uttappa also fails in the next few matches, what is the soltion for the opener problem? Dravid opening to make sure Ganguly does not get an opening? (It was complained that Dravid had to open to accomodate Ganguly during Pak tests - now is it okay to do it the other way?)

    Things are going on okay with this current leadership team (too early to give final judgement). But the doors cannot be closed for any player (not just Ganguly - even Laxman or Kumble for that matter).

  • hash on April 16, 2006, 4:24 GMT

    good perspectives put up both by prem and dilip. to pass a judgement that india is on a decline in the test matches is too quick a judgment to be made coz as far as i can recall we havent played many tests since the greg-dravid duo has taken over. i firmly believe that all the tours (outside the subcontinent ofcourse) need to be planned properly. by planning properly i mean longer tours increase in the number of tests played ( 5 as opposed to 3 most of the times) and 7 one dayers. test matches help the players adjust to the conditions and by ensuring that two test matches arent played spaced by few hours, can negate the player burnout for the following one dayers. wel if we are doing well in one dayers, so be it, afterall there is no world cup for test matches. lets not blame people who are doing a good job with the indian cricket because there are some people at the top, who rightfully deserve their place there, they definitely have something going in their minds. and juan matinez its jus a matter of time, when the tours start and with the summer coming up in the northern hemisphere we wont need those knickers anyways.

    go india go :-) cheerz

  • Anil Kumar on April 16, 2006, 4:12 GMT

    So prem bhai so subtly has added the twon wins in zimbawe under ganguly ( despite presence of connving caluclating nautnakibaas coach chappel) in the list of chapel-dravid's test victories.....

    we suck in test cricket that;s bottomline and this has started happening after chappal-dravid arrival.. against the england-c team we have lost a test in god knows how many decades.. ( let me remind people even last time under ganguly england was pushing for win in banaglore but test team was made of sterner stuff and didn;t let that happen).. against the pakistan last time we cruched them this time lost ....... beating srilanka at home on those proverbial trunign tracks doesn't mean test success.......

    yes for heaven's sake don't make exucses of since people don't come to watch test match hence we don't win.. stadium used to full just a year back if u play liek $hit u can;t expect people to fill the stadium .....

  • Vinay on April 16, 2006, 4:09 GMT

    Somebody please explain to me why this is a zero sum game? That is, if the ODI team is doing well, why is it automatically assumed that it is at the expense of the test team??

    Two obvious reasons for the success of the ODI team -- they have played more one-day games and they have tried out more experiments/players. In Test teams, it is much more difficult to replace players and much more difficult to experiment. Any improvements will have to be gradual, slower than the ODI version.

  • Pradeep Rao on April 16, 2006, 2:53 GMT

    More English than Indian fans at the Wankhede? Excuse me? Are we talking about the same game. I was there everyday. We had almost a full house everyday. there were about 3000 English fans & 35-40 thousand Indian fans.

  • Evera Periar on April 16, 2006, 2:10 GMT

    An articulate article and some good discussions. But, all this for what purpose, I wonder. Most of these points are mere opinions (and state the obvious) contributing to nothing practical. I mean, none of these discussions have an iota of influence on the decisions or actions of the administrators, and the team (or do they?).

    What about the media? Instead of acting as a (hopefully positive) bridge between the administration and the fans, media is in itself confounded, and is busy conducting guessing games and opinion polls. Are we getting anywhere (through all these discussions)?

    Thank God! Net discussions do not occupy office space (or do they?)!

  • Aditya Anchuri on April 15, 2006, 23:20 GMT

    I think you have excellently outlined why the so-called 'decline' in the Test team is a myth. And although it may seem a little harsh to blame the fans, you could not be closer to the truth.

    The problem is that the people who show up at the grounds only appreciate cricket on its face value...sixes, fours, and wickets. They fail to see the beautiful saga that is Test cricket, and how it is equally fulfilling to watch a batsman defy some good bowling with solid defence. This is merely one of the downsides of our otherwise advantageous economic boom, and increasing young middle-class population. These people love sensation, but don't like to see depth in entertainment. This is further fueled by the fact that Indian cricket has no sense of history, unlike probably Australian or English cricket. Our tour diaries, cricket books and other memorabilia are cherished only by a few mad buffs, and shunned by the majority of fans who show up on grounds to watch the game.

    It is the BCCI's duty to change this case of events if it wants depth and purpose to remain in Indian cricket. If its money-mad administrators could just stop trying to scream greed, maybe we could hear the muffled cries of individuals like me.

  • Vinesh on April 15, 2006, 22:10 GMT

    I do not completely buy into Prem's theory, but he definitely has an interesting perspective. I really hope that Rahul and Greg haven't sidelined test cricket for ODI World Cup success. And seeing the way that they have gone about their tenure until now, I believe that that is not the case. As Dileep pointed out, anyone that knows their cricket should know that it is easier to develop a better ODI side than a test side. Which is exactly what we have done. Our ODI transformation has been remarkable, but we also need to remember that we have been exclusively playing in familiar conditions. I am not belittling it, but just pointing out that we need to shelve the euphoria for a while.

    Looking at our test side, like Prem mentioned, we do not have a performing batting lineup at the moment, save Rahul Dravid. And our bowling lineup is more potential than proven. So, for the moment, all we can do is watch the methods that are being put in place by the management.

    I, for one, like what I am seeing. Not getting carried away by success in ODI, talking about 'processes' and 'methods' not only during defeat but also during victories, playing 5 bowlers, daring to insert opposition etc etc. MOST IMPORTANTLY, they are willing to spend time to buy success and I wonder why we can't do the same.

  • Karthik Kannan on April 15, 2006, 20:28 GMT

    Well said Prem. As Prem points out India's test fortunes have not declined so dramatically. It is just a matter of 2 test defeats (Karachi and Mumbai) Yes they were good in Aus and Pak a few years agi but that was due to the great form of Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Shewag and Gaguly. That was a just a purple patch in the pale saga of India's test fortunes for over a decade. Only Dravid seems to be in good touch in test cricket right now. It will take time for the youngsters to get used to test level. Let us also give some time to Shewag to get back to form and the Sachin to get back to fitness for these two stalwarts have given us numerous days of happiness in the past for us to be so critical of their failures and dump them as losers. Meanwhile let us enjoy all the ODI victories that Team India has achieved. It is not often that a team wins 16 straght mathes chasing with the efficiency and finnase that this team has shown. It is time to celebrate youth and their achievements and not engage partisan criticism. Let us be true to our souls and give credit where it is due. Greg and Rahul are doung a great job at the moment and we should give them their due. Rome was not built in a few months. Give team India some time and they will deliver in Tests just as they are doing in ODIs.

  • Murali on April 15, 2006, 19:48 GMT

    Enjoying success, when it happens, is a virtue in itself.Learning and developing on it leads to greatness.Discrediting the results that India have achieved on the basis that they are only good at home might sound rational but you might have to question yourself then how many countries achieve a higher winning percentage playing away.Apart from Australia,almost all the countries who come over to the subcontinent struggle and vice-versa.So most of the countries when they play away from home struggle for a variety of reasons and hence they have every right to win in their own backyard under their own conditions.These wins also do play an important role for the seedings of the world cup.Test wins will arrive in due time when these youngsters graduate after a couple of seasons of international competition.

  • Paceman on April 15, 2006, 19:18 GMT

    So the public does not go to test matches in huge numbers, is the reason for the BCCI-of course, the “previous administration was responsible”- to hire a coach to focus on one day internationals and forget the test matches? What a load of rubbish! A tale spun out of control to put the blame on the consumer! Like one responder said earlier, perhaps we should get two coaches, one for ODIs, and another for test matches! Did Mr. Panicker have access to Greg Chappell’s contract? I am sure we can all visualize the committee choosing the coach, saying: “of course, Mr. Chappell, just to work on the one day performance, and the hell with the test matches”. Nicely conjured, by a scribe whose expertise lies in injecting “his” well concealed opinions down our throats in a deliciously palatable way, making us believe that we the public (who else ?) are the real culprits for the demise in the Indian team’s test cricket performance.

    But remove the veil of deception and realize that team does not have the talent or staying power to make it to the World Cup winner’s podium. If it does, it will be a huge shock- but of course, time will tell. The real competition it had even in one day matches “at home”, was from South Africa (which had some key players absent) and managed to eek out a draw by the skin of their teeth. What cannot be ignored however is that the current team is unable to dominate in test matches under “home conditions”, which it could do with much greater ease, not so long ago. But of course, the reason for it all is that Joe or (Jagdish) public does not go to see test cricket in great numbers any more. Congratulations on the article - not a bad way to make a living!

  • worma on April 15, 2006, 19:01 GMT

    Prem: When you say that the product we are getting (and the producers are focussing on) is governed by the demand we show, by the signals we send through stadium-filling, does that mean you AGREE that the focus of BCCI, team management etc is not enough on test success. Does that, in turn, also mean that you agree that our test results should be better than what they are? And are so mainly because of the lack of guidance, or rather more stricter 'management and directorial' issues? Why then would you, or Dileep, tend to argue that our test situation is not bad, or atleast not deteriorated?

    I thought the brief of this entire debate was to argue whether India is slipping in the tests. Are we, or are we not? Are we doing enough to check the slide? Those are the main points....not how inconsistent (or even pathetic) we were in tests earlier, or even the 'comparison' of Wright with Chappell (although I understand that it becomes almost inevitable)

  • RS on April 15, 2006, 18:58 GMT

    ODI revolution has been great but you can not discount the fact that there is a slide in test performance. ODIs enthrall the crowd but test cricket has its followers as well and test cricket today is far more exciting than the draw infested 80s and early 90s.

    Indian team used to be invincible at home. It was not only about series victory but the manner of those victories. Opposition would be thrashed and demoralised. You mentioned that India lost both tests when they could not bat through the last day. The question is, why did the team end up in such a situation? It happened because Indian batsmen have not been firing. Spinners are not bowling effectively. Is it the effect of added emphasis on ODIs?

    Indian cricket team imporoved a lot in the Wright era. Chappell has to stop the wrong trend.

  • Ankur on April 15, 2006, 18:44 GMT

    Why do we want to be no 2 why not no 1? I agree that the dream is far fetched but if a bunch of bits and pieces cricketers can be phenomenal in the short form of the game then their non performance in the longer version is just a question mark on their mental faculties rather than either the coach or captain. Aussies are aging and the World Cup is what will the swansong of some of them. We aim to be the best one day side by then. Do I see a coincidence?

  • Mithun Hebbar on April 15, 2006, 18:22 GMT

    India did save a Test batting fourth at Nagpur, against England. Again, in the second Test in Pakistan, at Faridabad, a difficult situation was salvaged. I totally agree with Mr. Panicker and Mr. Premchandran's views. Rahul Dravid has turned out to be the sole key wicket in the Indian batting line-up.

  • Sandip Bhaskar on April 15, 2006, 17:34 GMT

    Well, nice article Prem. Cricket itineraries especially in sub-continent are designed to raise as much money as possible, so it sad to blame Chappell or Dravid on not having a lasting vision for longer version of game. We are playing highest number of ODIs in world, and we are doing quite admirably since Chappel/Dravid took the charge. And in tests 5 wins 2 loses is not a bad reading also.

    So there is no question of doubting their vision or commitment. It'll be a great mistake to dislodge this combination.

  • rohit on April 15, 2006, 16:51 GMT

    As a fan ,all i can say is how succesful Dravid-chappel combine become,they havre irrevocably split Indian cricket.The whole country doesn't suppport the team. a good 20-30% people have quit cricket or support the opposing team.This is a fact. Prem says the consumer is king,then why is public view not considered for selection.

  • Rishabh Chawla on April 15, 2006, 15:53 GMT

    Okay, so Mr. Malik takes the anti-Chappell view, Dilip 'bats' for the national coach, and Prem takes the road bang down the middle. Interesting.

    Everything that I might, or might not, have wanted to say, seems to already have been said. Just want to add - kudos to Prem for not bringing up the Ganguly issue - for or against. It doesn't matter anymore - Ganguly is done and dusted, and I just wish we, as a nation, had given him the kind of feverish farewell that a national hero of his class so richly deserved. Oh, also - Ganguly's axing was not so much a 'ruthless conspiracy' as it was a logical decision supported, vastly, by his prolonged 'lean patch'.

    So folks, lets please, for christssake, stop trying to conjure up non-existent conspiracies. MY team is showing an unprecedented spirit of playing 'together' - lets applaud that, shall we?

  • nb on April 15, 2006, 15:34 GMT

    One day v/s Tests:

    We play Sachin and VVS in Tests. Both are STRUGGLING.

    We play Raina in the One dayers. And we are a better one day side anyway.

    The test team has some batsman struggling with form. What's more, they are damn good batsman, so it's not easy to knock them off. But that is what will happen unless they can bring about a turnaround.

    With regards to Sachin, it's sad that an era may be coming to an end - I hope it does not happen, but the reality cannot be ignored.

    Lighter bats, lighter minds perhaps?

    **********

    Someone up there said Rahul is a great batsman, great teamman, great gentleman but not a leader.

    Now what's a leader?

    You don;t need to take off your shirt, or keep saying 'Yuvi/Veeru is a special talent' to make yourself a 'great leader'.

    Rahul is definitely an excellent thinker and that is an important aspect of his leadership. I am sure he has a vision and implements it by challenging his team - AND himself.

    Yuvraj recently said in an interview as to the reason why this team has shown so much flexibility across the batting order - his answer: Rahul himself leads by example in this matter.

    If that is not a leader, what the hell is?

    And really, what's the point in showing the puny frame under your shirt - Freddie at least has the physique ;).

  • Dr.George John on April 15, 2006, 14:34 GMT

    I agree with Janak Ghosh. We Indian cricket fans tend to go to extremes, both ways. Forget individuals and cheer for Team India. Our team is like the proverbial Curates egg. Good in parts. But they are doing the right things, with a truly good young crop of cricketers.

  • h. johnson on April 15, 2006, 14:34 GMT

    why all this hair-splitting over a stupid game like cricket?

    habib

  • Tushar shah on April 15, 2006, 14:13 GMT

    Juan - You can write English. Good for you and your country! Prem - you are right: Team has done well under Chappell and is unafraid to experiment to build bench strength. Improvement in Test will automatically follow. The team is well positioned to send 15 inform people to WC next year and that alone is a great achievement in Indian cricket. In a country with such a large pool of aspiring cricketeres, it is only logical to identify and nurture as much talent as you can as early as possible for this alone Chappell's contribution is unparalleled.

  • Avinash on April 15, 2006, 13:57 GMT

    Excellent article. My question to those who whine about India's (apparent) decline in test cricket - Why aren't we focussing on the people running the game? When has test cricket ever been important for them? What else can you expect when the board wants to increase the number of ODIs every year, and not have properly scheduled test series ?

  • Aatif Nasim on April 15, 2006, 13:27 GMT

    Point taken. But this has been happening with India for a long time. Currently, they excel in ODIs and as soon as they start concentrating on Tests they would lose it here. India as a team can win just one form of the game and it would be hard to replicate Australia. (I know this is a bold statement but this has been happening for ages)

  • Gurinder Nihal on April 15, 2006, 13:24 GMT

    Dear Prem... As you may well remember we have always disagreed with opinions. The most significant of it was when after India's defeat to Australia in the round robin league of the world cup you had written the team totally off and offered me odds of 50-1 when i had said that India would reach the world cup final(this is when both of us were living in NYC)... Well India did make the world cup, I never got paid my dues ($5,000) and we still differ in some respect to opinions... After we lost that test match to Pakistan we won the one day series and the test was forgotten... Now we again lost the last test match and but went on to win the one day series again... So all to the cricket crazy public seems hanky-dory... Afraid not mate... And we still need to work on your credibility and outlook... So lets address those things first!!!

  • satish on April 15, 2006, 13:14 GMT

    Good Article !!!

  • Janak Ghosh on April 15, 2006, 13:12 GMT

    To Messrs Prem and Dileep,

    Lets just hold our horses till we reach South Africa.Team India's first true test will lie there. It is well known that we reached the finals of the previous WC on foreign soil i.e. South Africa, We reached ICC Champions trophy finals again on foreign soil. We have always been masters on Indian Soil, so the percentages that Prem is bandying about dont really tell the true story given that most matches barring the ones against Pakistan were played on home soil.For us to reach the next level ( being the vision we 'bought into' )and be judged that we have indeed reached there, the yardstick has to be to win the World Cup in 2007 and then consistently beat all nations on home and foreign soil - much like Australia has done. So I would suggest that we hold our breaths and hang on to our seats and wait for Act 2 to unfold. Beating an effectively England A side and a Sri Lankan side ( who are even worse travellers than we are)and a Pakistan side laden with injuries, is a good Act 1 to gain confidence and boost morale but certainly not good enough to get carried away. Dileep especially, Rahul is a great batsman , a great teamman, a thorough gentleman but he is not yet a great leader - certainly not comparable to Steve Waugh - yet - he may get there but again lets reserve our judgement because its early days yet. Steve Waugh was recognised as such almost after 4 years of captaincy, but we in India, have already handed that label to Rahul Dravid after half a season!!And the fact that Steve Waugh asked Rahul to write the Introduction to his autobiography shows his personal esteem for Rahul as a player and a gentleman and a thinker of the game, but it still is not relevant to the fact whether Rahul will eventually become a great leader of men!!

  • Kalyan on April 15, 2006, 12:58 GMT

    I am quite fine with people stating that the Greg-Dravid duo is doing wonders. I may not entirely agree with them. But everybody is entitled to their own opinion.

    What I do not appreciate is people using this as a forum to berate the contributions of past captains and coaches.

    In this context I feel it is needless of cricinfo to have started this debate. It is too early to judge Greg-Dravid. No 31 ODIs are not enough, especially if most of them have been played at home.

    Statistics can never tell the full picture till it is properly used. And we just do not have enough to use statistics to forward any arguement in favour or against Greg-Dravid as yet.

    I also wish the moderator exercises more discretion in approving messages expecially when comments tend to get personal or parochial.

    Can cricinfo please do something immediately to restore its credibilty. That will be most welcome.

  • Girish Noshikunte on April 15, 2006, 12:42 GMT

    The Indian team is an unstoppable one-day juggernaut and predictably is gathering all the plaudits only in the one-day arena with nothing much happening in the test arena. But all the criticism of the Indian Team still begs the question - Isnt it a great improvement over where we were?

    We have this rather peculiar tendency to discount what is good and immediately look for what isnt. It is almost like the anti-incumbency factor in election politics. What is currently on is never good enough.

    Guys, We have a fab team in the one-day arena now and I am confident that the skills and the patience required of these players for the test arena will also be built. Test Cricket is a sporting arena which requires men and they take time to mature from their current Adolescence.

    Till then, let the boys play and lets enjoy their game and cheer them on!!

  • Ezhil on April 15, 2006, 11:51 GMT

    Very good post. We would like to know more about Prem Panicker and have more frequent contributions from him. The manner in which he has brought out the vital statistics in favour of his arguments needs to be lauded. The win percentage is an important indicator and it just shows how much we have progressed under Dravid-Chappell.

    But I would disagree with the reason for the lack of audiences for the Test matches. I believe the followers of Test cricket are also huge, although it won't match the shorter version. But in present day India, time is such a luxury that not everyone can go to a Test match and enjoy it in a relaxed manner for five days. Also, if one notices, there is significant crowd whenever the Test is in an exciting state. And you don't really know the audience that is following Test cricket through TV and Cricinfo (read Internet). But sadly we(Test audience) don't know how to get the message across to the Board, the sponsors, the telecasters, etc. Prem can suggest us a few ideas! (apart from putting warm bodies in the stadia seats).

  • Juan Martinez on April 15, 2006, 11:19 GMT

    Quack, quack, quack... there goes India: India Shining also means half the country has no food. And in cricket it means tailored pitches at home and such untold bravery by the wunderkids. Keep cheering till you have to leave the subcontinent, then it will be time to search for your knickers; oh, may be you should ask Chappell, he'll solve that for you too! Goodluck suckers.

  • shan on April 15, 2006, 10:21 GMT

    Good article lets support our team and let them take one step at a time..no need to hurry things.world cup is around the corner,so they're preparing for that.test agenda needs to be chartered and priority needs to be established for cricket and not for anything else(not spectators,pawar or players).

  • Rohit on April 15, 2006, 10:14 GMT

    India is vastly improved ODI side. It is not doing that badly is test as prem mentioned. The entry of Munaf, Sreesanth has given me more hope regarding test. One strange view of the pessimist (or anti-Greg) group in this thread is of the success of Pathan and Dhoni as batsmen. Thier view is that these successes are bad for the team as we will lose Pathan as a bowler and Dhoni will lose his wk skills.Pathan and Dhoni sometimes do dissapoint in thier primary skills in tests but not in ODIs. If Munaf, Sreesanth and RP Singh live to up thier promise then Pathan would not have to bowl more than 20 overs each test ings can bowl all out with little pressure. Dhoni will never be the world's best wk no matter how much he ignores his batting but with test experince he will surely improve (at least he will reduce make basic mistakes). The only worry as far test is concerned is the form of shewag and sachin. It would not be easy to replace them.

  • i. on April 15, 2006, 8:39 GMT

    It is a well thought out, level-headed article. If you buy the original premise that any games development is directly linked to viewership. That is silly. We might as well scrap playing badminton, or Tabel Tennis, or Chess. No one watches them.

    It sure doesn't feel like the great teams of the past, and the present, first sit down and decide, "Guys people like to watch 1-days only, so shit in the tests chaps. Who cares. If you fail, we will lay the blame on the lack of people watching us".

    Or maybe the BCCI, and Greg C. do. Who knows. We didn't know Azza sold us out to the bookies, till after the fact.

    You masy as well start playing nude cricket, for that will certainly warm those empty seats. (Tips hat to SA's Dan's World)

    But very typical PP. Completely coherent, and logical analysis. Though his penchant for constructing all his arguments on a presumptious, "Guys, lets all first agree on this basic principle" which he then proceeds to conjure up on his own, doesn't go down as smooth.

    All those statistics may well hide the extent of this sides failure in tests, but anyone who has seen those tests wil,l hopefully, agree that in tests this side has all the fighting nous of a cornered centipede. No stamina, No stomach, For the long haul. Slam, bang, biff, and lets go collect our checks and get a ride on Dhoni's phatphatiya.

    Not really.

  • b on April 15, 2006, 8:18 GMT

    Is it now time to consider two coaches for each version of the game? Each with a different goal and a differnt approach?

  • ajay on April 15, 2006, 8:09 GMT

    Oh, ok, now I get it. First, you reel us in with a rabble-rousing, barely credible argument from the writer of post #1. Then you follow it up with two well-reasoned, polished arguments that offer a balanced view of the whole debate. Excellent articles, both. But for sheer entertainment value for the LCD (like this post-er), writer of post #1, come back, all is forgiven.

  • uma on April 15, 2006, 7:59 GMT

    Well said Prem. Can we all stop this dramatic nirupa-roy-style drama and breast beating and get on with (constructively) supporting our Team?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • uma on April 15, 2006, 7:59 GMT

    Well said Prem. Can we all stop this dramatic nirupa-roy-style drama and breast beating and get on with (constructively) supporting our Team?

  • ajay on April 15, 2006, 8:09 GMT

    Oh, ok, now I get it. First, you reel us in with a rabble-rousing, barely credible argument from the writer of post #1. Then you follow it up with two well-reasoned, polished arguments that offer a balanced view of the whole debate. Excellent articles, both. But for sheer entertainment value for the LCD (like this post-er), writer of post #1, come back, all is forgiven.

  • b on April 15, 2006, 8:18 GMT

    Is it now time to consider two coaches for each version of the game? Each with a different goal and a differnt approach?

  • i. on April 15, 2006, 8:39 GMT

    It is a well thought out, level-headed article. If you buy the original premise that any games development is directly linked to viewership. That is silly. We might as well scrap playing badminton, or Tabel Tennis, or Chess. No one watches them.

    It sure doesn't feel like the great teams of the past, and the present, first sit down and decide, "Guys people like to watch 1-days only, so shit in the tests chaps. Who cares. If you fail, we will lay the blame on the lack of people watching us".

    Or maybe the BCCI, and Greg C. do. Who knows. We didn't know Azza sold us out to the bookies, till after the fact.

    You masy as well start playing nude cricket, for that will certainly warm those empty seats. (Tips hat to SA's Dan's World)

    But very typical PP. Completely coherent, and logical analysis. Though his penchant for constructing all his arguments on a presumptious, "Guys, lets all first agree on this basic principle" which he then proceeds to conjure up on his own, doesn't go down as smooth.

    All those statistics may well hide the extent of this sides failure in tests, but anyone who has seen those tests wil,l hopefully, agree that in tests this side has all the fighting nous of a cornered centipede. No stamina, No stomach, For the long haul. Slam, bang, biff, and lets go collect our checks and get a ride on Dhoni's phatphatiya.

    Not really.

  • Rohit on April 15, 2006, 10:14 GMT

    India is vastly improved ODI side. It is not doing that badly is test as prem mentioned. The entry of Munaf, Sreesanth has given me more hope regarding test. One strange view of the pessimist (or anti-Greg) group in this thread is of the success of Pathan and Dhoni as batsmen. Thier view is that these successes are bad for the team as we will lose Pathan as a bowler and Dhoni will lose his wk skills.Pathan and Dhoni sometimes do dissapoint in thier primary skills in tests but not in ODIs. If Munaf, Sreesanth and RP Singh live to up thier promise then Pathan would not have to bowl more than 20 overs each test ings can bowl all out with little pressure. Dhoni will never be the world's best wk no matter how much he ignores his batting but with test experince he will surely improve (at least he will reduce make basic mistakes). The only worry as far test is concerned is the form of shewag and sachin. It would not be easy to replace them.

  • shan on April 15, 2006, 10:21 GMT

    Good article lets support our team and let them take one step at a time..no need to hurry things.world cup is around the corner,so they're preparing for that.test agenda needs to be chartered and priority needs to be established for cricket and not for anything else(not spectators,pawar or players).

  • Juan Martinez on April 15, 2006, 11:19 GMT

    Quack, quack, quack... there goes India: India Shining also means half the country has no food. And in cricket it means tailored pitches at home and such untold bravery by the wunderkids. Keep cheering till you have to leave the subcontinent, then it will be time to search for your knickers; oh, may be you should ask Chappell, he'll solve that for you too! Goodluck suckers.

  • Ezhil on April 15, 2006, 11:51 GMT

    Very good post. We would like to know more about Prem Panicker and have more frequent contributions from him. The manner in which he has brought out the vital statistics in favour of his arguments needs to be lauded. The win percentage is an important indicator and it just shows how much we have progressed under Dravid-Chappell.

    But I would disagree with the reason for the lack of audiences for the Test matches. I believe the followers of Test cricket are also huge, although it won't match the shorter version. But in present day India, time is such a luxury that not everyone can go to a Test match and enjoy it in a relaxed manner for five days. Also, if one notices, there is significant crowd whenever the Test is in an exciting state. And you don't really know the audience that is following Test cricket through TV and Cricinfo (read Internet). But sadly we(Test audience) don't know how to get the message across to the Board, the sponsors, the telecasters, etc. Prem can suggest us a few ideas! (apart from putting warm bodies in the stadia seats).

  • Girish Noshikunte on April 15, 2006, 12:42 GMT

    The Indian team is an unstoppable one-day juggernaut and predictably is gathering all the plaudits only in the one-day arena with nothing much happening in the test arena. But all the criticism of the Indian Team still begs the question - Isnt it a great improvement over where we were?

    We have this rather peculiar tendency to discount what is good and immediately look for what isnt. It is almost like the anti-incumbency factor in election politics. What is currently on is never good enough.

    Guys, We have a fab team in the one-day arena now and I am confident that the skills and the patience required of these players for the test arena will also be built. Test Cricket is a sporting arena which requires men and they take time to mature from their current Adolescence.

    Till then, let the boys play and lets enjoy their game and cheer them on!!

  • Kalyan on April 15, 2006, 12:58 GMT

    I am quite fine with people stating that the Greg-Dravid duo is doing wonders. I may not entirely agree with them. But everybody is entitled to their own opinion.

    What I do not appreciate is people using this as a forum to berate the contributions of past captains and coaches.

    In this context I feel it is needless of cricinfo to have started this debate. It is too early to judge Greg-Dravid. No 31 ODIs are not enough, especially if most of them have been played at home.

    Statistics can never tell the full picture till it is properly used. And we just do not have enough to use statistics to forward any arguement in favour or against Greg-Dravid as yet.

    I also wish the moderator exercises more discretion in approving messages expecially when comments tend to get personal or parochial.

    Can cricinfo please do something immediately to restore its credibilty. That will be most welcome.