The Paper Round September 5, 2004

Changing the batting order and Dravid's burden

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Sourav Ganguly: Which number do I choose? © AFP

The reaction to India's current dip in form has been similar to the invective thrown at them before the start of the World Cup last year. Batsmen have been described as "playing like millionaires", bowlers criticised for being "clueless", and the attitude branded as "demoralised".

Two suggestions have been doing the rounds: the first is with regard to the batting order, where most have advocated a change in the opening combination. The other relates to picking a specialist wicketkeeper to relieve Rahul Dravid of his "burden behind the stumps".

The Indian Express said: "Sourav Ganguly should continue to open the innings, with Yuvraj [Singh], and push Sehwag down the order, making very clear that it is not a demotion but an opportunity for him to show what he can do in the middle order."

The Times of India, meanwhile, called for a change but felt that Ganguly would be better off batting at No. 5 or 6, with Yuvraj and Sehwag opening the innings. Mid Day also said that Ganguly should go down the order, and was critical of his "inflexibility when it comes to shifting the batting order. Despite his limitations while facing pacers, Ganguly insists on batting at the top."

On the Dravid issue, the Indian Express wrote: "Dravid may toil manfully and quietly but the strain of the double duty is now clearly evident in his batting stats."

And there were other thoughts too. India's decision to field first in the second match at The Oval prompted Kris Srikkanth, the former Indian opener, to write in the Hindustan Times: "It is high time we made it a law that when a toss is won, we must bat. We Indians are very poor chasers and unless and until the conditions are totally in favour of bowling first, we must always choose to bat when the option to do so is ours."

Ganguly has all along insisted that it was just a matter of getting it right in one game and that the team's fortunes were bound to improve. It probably takes about the same time for the reactions to swing to the other extreme. Over to Lord's.