India in England 2011

Will India's men of tomorrow stand up?

The defeat in England is a sign of the future in Indian Test cricket. What it needs most is men of ability, of a larger appetite, with the greed to succeed

Sharda Ugra

August 24, 2011

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Sreesanth lets his frustration show, England v India, 4th Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 19, 2011
Test cricket brutally scrutinises every skill a cricketer may have been born with, developed or dreamt about © Getty Images
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In the home team's dressing room at The Oval, cricketers in the viewing gallery must keep the company of Thomas Jefferson and Lawrence of Arabia. Or rather, the words they once said, which players can read every time they walk into the area that overlooks the field. It is what Surrey cricket manager Chris Adams set up for his team; during the final Test between England and India at The Oval, only the English could read them.

Jefferson speaks crisply of "mental attitude" 200 years before Powerpoint presentations and corporate motivational talks. But it is what TE Lawrence, archaeologist, scholar, soldier, said that lingers.

"All men dream but not equally," the sign reads. "Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind wake up in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible."

The visiting team at The Oval never gets to read this sign. Had any of the Indians walked past that wall on their Tour de Trauma, they would have realised which category of dreamers their team belonged in.

Now, why the waffling on about dreams? Did Lawrence ever open the batting for Arabia?

Fine, here's reality: over six weeks in England, India lost more than a series and their No. 1 Test ranking. Eight months after a ringing 1-1 away draw against South Africa, India have been handed a whitewash in a four-Test series, their first in 44 years. What they have lost are their moorings as a competitive Test team of world travellers. It does not, of course, mean that India cannot completely turn England, or indeed any other team, inside out in their own yard. If the two teams were to dash across to Asia this week, India could well do so with interest and fury.

Yet the most respected teams are those who dream beyond their own geography. Their imaginations stretch past the strongest and most obvious probability. It is what gave India their most successful decade in Test cricket at the turn of the millennium, mostly without contracts and often with support staff of precisely four.

From the mix of Tendulkar, Kumble, Srinath, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman came a generation of dreamers who redefined Indian cricket, particularly outside the subcontinent. From the confidence of Test wins overseas, a World Cup final in South Africa, Test series wins in Pakistan, West Indies and England, came the environment that a new generation, of Dhoni, Gambhir, Ishant and Raina, now works and plays in.

The defeat in England is not the end of the world; it is not the end of cricket as India knows it. It is merely a sign of the day after tomorrow in Indian Test cricket. At the moment, it is not good. What Indian cricket, replete with resources and talent, needs most now is a new generation of Lawrence's dangerous men. Not merely men of ability but of a larger appetite. Of the greed to succeed, of the hunger for improvement.

If a few of them emerge from the new selection panel, or from the BCCI itself, the Test team's life will be far easier, methodical and rationally planned (and we will all die happy). For the moment, though, the banana skins that littered the way to the tour of England - an unthinking board, loopy selectors, a World Cup victory that could not really be relished by those who won it, because a seductive seven-week Frankenstein's monster could not be resisted - are not going to go away. Neither will what awaits the Test team in less than six months, the one event they can use to try and repair their reputation with - a tour of Australia.

India's first overseas Test after 4-0 (or what is now called the 0-val), will begin in Melbourne on December 26. In between there is the Champions League Twenty20, whose qualifier, featuring a hopefully robust Gautam Gambhir, begins less than 72 hours after the final ODI against England in Cardiff. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma and Munaf Patel will also resume play within a week. Then there are 10 ODIs - five each against West Indies and England - and three Tests against West Indies at home before the Indians jet off to Australia.

At one stage in this series Andrew Strauss said, "In order to keep improving as a side you've got to keep improving the set-up and sometimes that means different personnel, sometimes it means different methods of preparation." The BCCI has asked for an additional practice match in Australia, but other than that, sorry, boys, looks like you are pretty much on your own.

The tomorrow of Indian Test cricket is about to reveal itself. Not only in terms of runs scored or wickets taken but about who, despite all the hurdles - BCCI, Twenty20, schedules, fatigue, celebrity - can emerge, visibly improved, the greediest of new dreamers

On the tour of England, India's lack of runs and wickets was quantifiable. The intangible imbalance between those striving to compete and those content to coast was not. Those with the big dreams, even if only for personal excellence, and those with pocket-sized aspirations. It is easy to single out India's most recent dangerous men in Test cricket; it is those from the next generation - the era of plenty - who at the moment are hard to identify.

The best Test sides in the world have always had enough dangerous men. Between them they can pull, push, lift, blaze, and chart the course of every iconic squad's most unforgettable voyages - Lloyd's West Indies, Hussain's England, Ganguly's India, Taylor's and Waugh's Australia, Imran's Pakistan, Ranatunga's Sri Lanka, Howarth's New Zealand, Bacher's South Africa.

England 2011 has established that India's Test cricket must now arm-wrestle with this day after tomorrow.

The degrees of difficulty between the long and the short game are considerable, but the rewards remain far too skewed towards the latter. A player can fake it in short-form cricket but not in Tests. They brutally scrutinise every skill a cricketer may have been born with, developed or dreamt about. Beyond their physical and mental abilities in the craft itself, Test cricket also strips bare over and over again, personality itself. England has done that to every man on the Indian team, and each of them knows, more than a rival or an expert or their own family does, just who he is and where he stands - as batsman, as bowler, as fielder, as captain, as team man.

To lift itself as a Test team beyond England, India require more than their new coach; they will need a collective of individual hunger and ambition. Maybe it will be sparked by a revitalised young leader, maybe by a brat pack of skill and character deeply stung by 4-0.

The tomorrow of Indian Test cricket is about to reveal itself. Not only in terms of runs scored or wickets taken but about who, despite all the hurdles - BCCI, T20, schedules, fatigue, celebrity - can emerge, visibly improved, the greediest of new dreamers. Who have decided - as Edmund Hilary so perfectly understood it - not that they want to be extraordinary, but want to accomplish extraordinary things. If those numbers dwindle, so will India's Test team.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by cricfan60 on (August 26, 2011, 16:29 GMT)

A player selected for test matches should put a price on his wicket. Avoid risky shots as time is not a factor in tests these days. Instead of batting average, I feel balls faced per innings should be the criteria. Here are the career figures for our team. Player BF/Innings R Dravid 125 SR Tendulkar 104 VVS Laxman 94 G Gambhir 93 Wasim Jaffer 71 Aakash Chopra 66 V Sehwag 64 MS Dhoni 64 Yuvraj 61 SK Raina 55 Mukund 52 Kolhi 45 Pujara 41 A Mishra 40 I Sharma 39 S Sreesanth 20 RP Singh 17

The 1st 4 are just fine. If numbers 5 to 7 can bat like a Dravid, they are consuming 20 extra overs each every test match. Enough to draw some of the matches we have lost. I can not understand how Jaffer loses out to Yuvraj/Raina and even Sehwag in test matches?

Posted by KrishnanN on (August 26, 2011, 13:15 GMT)

"Maybe it will be sparked by a revitalised young leader, maybe by a brat pack of skill and character deeply stung by 4-0."

Are you suggesting a change in leadership? Because, frankly, that is absurd! Not six months ago, we were basking in the euphoria of a World Cup win and hailing Dhoni as the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket. This debacle is entirely due to cramped scheduling and injury mismanagement, with healthy dollops of bad luck.

The loss is painful but please don't go overboard in the post-mortem.

Posted by RS_Cric_11 on (August 25, 2011, 19:45 GMT)

so keeping RP out of contention for 3 years was not a good option. He looked fat to me (ofcourse he was holidaying - so no fault for him). I wonder why Munuf stayed with the team. He should have been with his family when not playing. Comming to the main - There is no need to panic in the batting department, as INDIA has enough firepower in their batting like - ROHIT SHARMA, PUJARA, RAHANE, MANOJ TIWARI, KOHLI, RAINA. ofcourse, we need to find another SEHWAG for opening (as he 'll be now a injury prone) but we need to find atleast three opening bowling pair. Zaheer can at best play three years - so we need atleast 6 fast bowler (apart from Ishant) to groom under him. Bring back IRFAN PATHAN please and ask him to train at NCA, he 'll give us a great allrounder.

Posted by RS_Cric_11 on (August 25, 2011, 19:29 GMT)

A Good article. We need to groom fresh blood. 4-0 is completely an unrealistic result even in dreams with respected batting we had (Rahul/Sachin/Laxman/Raina/Dhoni- all played 4 tests). The real problem was Indian Bowling. In first match at Lords Zaheer removed both the openers but unfortunately got injured, result- the work load increased for Ishant and Praveen (who were out-standing in WI) and KP was given benifit of doubt(LBW) and pile on 201* - This could happen only because Praveen and Ishant were bowling for the first time in England and their mentor was out of action. Subsequently, the load of bowling increased on these two bowlers. nearly 50 overs a test for fast bowler is a huge task and I am wondering how are they playing. Its not a joke is huge toll on the body. Frustrating to see RP back into the action straight into the test. Frustrating because he was out for 3 years completely - why this should happen -- we need variation in the bowling department and RP can swing

Posted by S.N.Singh on (August 25, 2011, 12:52 GMT)


Posted by   on (August 25, 2011, 11:57 GMT)

A very good article. But i don't agree with it entirely. Yes test cricket strips & exposes the cricketer. U learn about yrself & fans see the real u. Test cricket is a test of yr 1 physical fitness,mental strength, technique. And these make up yr package. Now, u can't sustain so many injuries in a series & still maintain momentum & balance & rhythm. I NDIA had 5 different opening combinations in the series. Only the WALL & VVS were never injured. At some pt & time the batting line up had to be adjusted to deal with injuries. Yr main strike bowler(ZK) is out after tking 2wks. If yr team is not prepared physically it will affect the other 2 components & it happened to India. India is still a strong team & there is no need to panic, not yet. Any patriot is a DANGEROUS MAN.

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 25, 2011, 11:03 GMT)

English batterrs and bowlers are tall. It is easy for them to face our bowlers. WHen our batters bat they are short and face steepling bounce. Thus in ENgland it helps them. The reverse happens in India. Indian are shorter and can bat comfortably whereas the tall suffer as they will be taken out Thru lower bounce balls. It is the reason why Dravid was okay in England. Someone like Rohit Sharma would have been a good bet in ENdgland. Of course there are exceptions like Sachin who counter with getting into position quickly, but Sachin always falls to LBW because of his height. So with waning reflexes he is getting out quicker. I like Aakash Chopra as an opener for tests.

Posted by NumberXI on (August 25, 2011, 10:41 GMT)

Some of the comments re. Sreesanth are a bit strange. Considering that the guy was India's fourth choice seamer - remember India opted for Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma in the first test - he has done creditably to outperform Ishant Sharma in the three tests they played together with a better average and strike rate. The results also do not do justice to how hard he kept running in even when England were piling on the runs. Unfortunately, though, it looks like Sreesanth will be one of the scapegoats of this series - the question is who else will go with him. Somehow one gets the feeling that neither Raina nor Harbhajan will be in that list.

Posted by   on (August 25, 2011, 9:59 GMT)

If england needs to prove themselves in subcontinent to be the no. 1, why not India prove them selves in seaming wickets to claim no 1.....or rather to claim no 3 atleast....???? Did India prove themselves overseas when they were no 1...I doubt....I think this ranking system is flawed and need bit of tinkering.....

Posted by NuraSadu on (August 25, 2011, 9:26 GMT)

The loss of india in test matches is bcoz of the batting dept. in 2nd test india were ahead with england reeling at 124-8 in 50.2 overs. somehow the england innings was restricted to 221. our batsmen gave a weak response to the good effort by the bowlers by scoring a paltry 288 and handing over the confidence to ENG bowlers by letting them have a hat-trick. If IND has posted a 500 plus score then our bowlers wud have got the confidence and the series wud have had a different result. At least repectful. And I dunno whats Sree's role in ODI to have his picture in this article.

Posted by AtticusFinch on (August 25, 2011, 8:01 GMT)

The IPL has changed priorities for the new generation of players. A Gambhir does not play an important test because he hurt his elbow, but can play through the IPL with a major injury. Am sure these blokes will rest out a test match if they scratch their knees. I remember Anil Kumble playing with a broken jaw, wonder when we will get cricketers of his ilk again.

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 25, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

Instead of playing Jaffer as opener, I would rather look at Aakash Chopra. A true Indian professional opener who did not get a full chance. Gambhir failed in England. He could not use his feet as he did when playing in India. I suspect that he just needs to get back to form and confidence. Shewag has been worked out by bowlers. We need big, strong bowlers. How about someone like Abid Nabi from the Punjab. India is a big country we can try to find some good quick bowlers. A system should be put in place to unearth some. I wait to see how Varun Aaron performs. Its a pity there is no one with experience to lead the attack in ODI's. Nehra could have been chosen.

Posted by AtticusFinch on (August 25, 2011, 7:17 GMT)

Sharda, insightful article as of always! But there is one point that I really cant fathom . . ."If the two teams were to dash across to Asia this week, India could well do so with interest and fury". As long as the players pockets are filled with IPL/Ads cash, there is never going to be any "interest" or "fury". After getting trampled into the ground by the English, look at Dhoni . . . completely nonchalant, absolutely no regrest or remorse. His comment about 'we tried our best' was rib-ticklingly funny. Who was he talking about?? Definitely not him, definitely not RP Singh, Harbhajan, Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir or Raina. Assuming there was a 4 test series in India next month, guess what would be scoreline? You are right . . another 4-0 pasting (India getting the thrashing, not England)

Posted by 3Cents on (August 25, 2011, 6:59 GMT)

What BCCI has done through the introduction of IPL is akin to what Wall Street did to the finance in general through Structured Finance. They both resulted in 2 things, large increase of payouts (million dollar payouts are common) - incentive and misalignment of interest (the trader will put the bank's money at risk to increase his payout, just the way gambhir/sehwag/dhoni/raina/zaheer/bhajji / sharma and co. will play IPL/CL etc. to increase their payout while putting national interest at risk. You need to give right incentives that motivate people (money is the best incentive) and importantly align the interests. To make the point clear, if we pay USD 2mio for test cricket for a season and pay max 200K for playing IPL, I am reasonably certain there will be more youngsters following pujara/badri than the other way that is happening now. Bottomline ,India's men of tomorrow unfortunately are done in by the brilliant incentive scheme set up by BCCI (millions for 20/20) ala WalStreet.l

Posted by Johnny_129 on (August 25, 2011, 6:53 GMT)

India is in great danger of going down in the manner of WI & Aust...if they have not done so already! Lack of succession planning being the major concern. It is time to start rotating the seniors and letting the Kohli's and Pujara's play regularly (in Tests) alongside the likes of Dravid, SRT and VVS - only then will India be able to avoid falling to the depths of Aust & WI. I would also like to see SRT, Dravid and VVS appearing in Ranji cricket after retirement from Internationals - it will serve the youngsters well to rub shoulders with these men early.

Posted by ian_ghose on (August 25, 2011, 6:38 GMT)

Pardon me for going on...but imagine that you're a young lad (or a less young lad ) in the Indian team, you're trying your best (others aren't maybe), but all you hear about is some old fart's 100th int'l 100. You're putting digging deep within your reserves of energy and skills to do well, every discussion and every individual is under the shadow of the aforementioned oldie. How does it feel? Do you feel appreciated? Do you feel your contribution is being gauged for what it is, or do you feel that you are a mere footnote in some else's story? Even the current England team are believed to have felt greatly relieved with the retirement of Freddie Flintoff, no doubt a great competitor, but inevitably who would garner all the attention (rightly or wrongly and at times without solicitation). Thus to cut the chase, time to let the young 'uns play freely without being overshadowed by certain old timers :0 - there - no more churlish thoughts from me - IG

Posted by   on (August 25, 2011, 6:20 GMT)

wonderfully put! This is definitely waht is required. India sadly lack dangerous men, esp in bowling. Zaheer is dangerous, but that is it. Sreesanth possess the skill to be the next dale Steyn or Anderson, but does not have the heart. He should learn from Anfderson in this matter really. Ishant Sharma possess the talent to be India's enforcer, but he is overbowled and faces burn out! Get in Varun Aaron now, and use him as Sri Lanka uses Malinga- as their enforcer. Genuine quick bowlers cannot rattle up 7 to 8 over spells. For that people like Praveen are more suited. Get Aaron for the Australia series. HE has done well there, and let him bowl fast! If he does well, he will inspire a lot more like him.

Posted by rsurya on (August 25, 2011, 6:14 GMT)

"Did you for forget our DHONI hitting a SIX and won the WORLDCUP for us" how can you do that... our captain is miraculous Midas, he will definitely turn around... wait and see... He will soon consult an Astro specialist on where to place his fielders so he can take wickets and which bowler's presence in the team will bring luck to the team. THE ONLY REASON FOR THIS SERIES LOST IS WHY SREESANTH WAS IGNORED IN FIRST TEST... GOT IT...

Posted by   on (August 25, 2011, 6:13 GMT)

India lost the series more due to their bowling than batting.Indian players already less fit,carrried 4 specialist bowlers instead of five.As a result lot of runs were leaked which became a huge task for the batters to catch up with.Secondly,England had worked out that Indian batting crumbles when their defence is tested.They did not bowl more loose balls to India which unsettled them.Furthur, they tested Indians with short balls and swingers in the coridor of uncertainity.India lost the last two test becz England had mentally drained them and India's patience and energy (mental) was over.

Posted by amit4cricket on (August 25, 2011, 6:05 GMT)

@100_rabh - Pity on your mediocre knowledge of cricket... Gambhir has played one of memorable knock in New Zealand for entire 5 sessions to save match...

Posted by 3Cents on (August 25, 2011, 5:56 GMT)

"If the two teams were to dash across to Asia this week, India could well do so with interest and fury." That would be quite foolish. The 4-0 defeat clearly exposed 2 things, complete lack of potency in Indian bowling and an extraordinary appetite for runs of the English batsmen (the hallmark of the great Indian middle order quartet till recently). Given that, there is no way our bowlers can stop the english juggernaut to pile up those hundreds and doubles and even triples. On the other hand, don't forget that we lost to SA twice in the last couple of years when the pitches remotely helped their fastmen. England not only has outstanding fast bowlers, but also the best spinner on the planet at the moment. So there is a reasonable chance that our batting machine might come unstuck again even on the Indian soil against England bowling. Given that, I don't see why our guys would be really looking to play England with Interest or Fury anytime soon.

Posted by 100_rabh on (August 25, 2011, 5:44 GMT)

how can a coward like Gambhir be termed as next Indian captain. Thumb rule is that when you go to England, take openers who have experienced English condition. Why Jaffer was not selected is beyond any one's thinking. Gambhir, Raina, Dhoni are all over hyped and flat track bunnies. Pick players like Praveen kumar who forget their pain while playing for the country.

Posted by ian_ghose on (August 25, 2011, 4:56 GMT)

"If the two teams were to dash across to Asia this week, India could well do so with interest and fury." - thats exactly the kind of hyberbole a large section of the Indian media is guilty of (along with tripe like 'Sachin is God'). If they were to dash across to Asia this week, with the forms of the current teams, their respective states of mind, and most importantly skills, i'd bet on England coming out on top. Also, predicting doomsday, when the oldies retire - Buongiorno!! The oldies are here and it's already doomsday!!! In fact it could be a great opportunity to wean the youngsters now, and send the old-timers to a nice retirement home with lakes full of fish and a 9-hole golf course. Surely they can't do worse than 0-4. It might even help them play their 'natural game', enabling them to perform without the fear of failure.

Posted by svenkat02 on (August 25, 2011, 4:24 GMT)

Let England come and beat India and Sri Lanka in the subcontinent before we start boasting of them as the best team in the world. We said the same for India when they were No.1. If India manage to beat Australia this year end, then India and England would be on equal footing and England's record in India will then decide if England is really better than India. When England comes to India, they face the heat, they face bowlers who know how to bowl in Indian conditions, they face batsmen who are so adept at playing on such wickets (remember Warne and Murali have horrid records bowling in India). Zaheer and Ishant get reverse swing so soon while opposition struggles to do it as early. England will be spanked next time when they come to India, who will also want blood thristy revenge for this 4-0 loss.

Posted by   on (August 25, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

Too many cricinfo experts making too many conclusions on the evidence of one bad series. Hope you folks dont try to make money in the stock market.

Posted by citizenkc on (August 25, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

Chanderpaul just made a century for Warwickshire. Here is a player in his late 30s with almost 10,000 test runs playing county cricket for probably not very much money. It's no coincidence that he saved the last test against India earlier this year. Can you see any of our lot giving up the IPL and playing in the county circuit and actually learning how to play the game?

Posted by citizenkc on (August 25, 2011, 3:40 GMT)

The reality is that most of us in the real world are evaluated by the quality of our performance. If we performed the way this Indian team has we would be severely judged and some of us probably would even be fired. However, this is not what happens in the BCCI, Srikkant, Dhono world. Raina keeps playing, Harbhajan keeps playing, Gambhir is apparently being considered as a future captain. I think Sehwag's decision to play in the IPL until late in the season, Sachin's decision to choose the IPL over the WI, all of these actions have consequences. But no one pays for their actions; in fact they are rewarded. So why should anything change?

Posted by   on (August 25, 2011, 3:22 GMT)

Yes, one more article that captures the trials India are up against. The old gaurd is, well an old gaurd, now. I cant fathom for any reason how Dhoni was regarded as a great captain. I always thought that a leader who doesnt lead will be an abject failure. India won various tournaments/series because of what was left over from Ganguly's captaincy. for me he is one of India's finest captain's. Well, even maybe the finest. Even the limited overs win was close to pure luck. Its now, that Dhoni can prove if he was ever good. But he never changed his style even when he was getting white washed and i cant see him doing better. Good luck for the one dayers because its only good luck that can help India now.

Posted by CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on (August 25, 2011, 3:02 GMT)

Hunger for playing tests and only test will come from not only incentives provided for representing it but also playing county cricket to improve technical,mental,physical attributes of game over a period of 5 days in the cloudest,coldest and windiest days of wellington or the humid and atrocious heat of chennai IMO obviously test cricket is not BCCI's priority is it? why schedule pointles odi series vs eng,WI when u know an imp tour of aus becons to go with pointles champs league t20

Posted by petz on (August 25, 2011, 1:30 GMT)

Our batsmens have lost their application and commitment.the best exaple is final test,even misra got 84......and we expect a draw,or even english bowlers.but we all know what happened,what the specilist batsmen were doing..raina,dhoni,goutam,....even.They coudint bat 30 overs al together............ Dhoni has done nothing to Indian cricket.thats cos of ganguly he have a good team.All credit goes to ganguly .

Posted by Gizza on (August 25, 2011, 0:42 GMT)

When England tours India, at least 3 or 4 of the members in their squad will get a viral infection and generally struggle in the pollution and oppressive heat. Remember they beat Australia in a year of La Nina, which meant Eastern Australia has a mild and wet summer. Normally it is much hotter and dryer. Coincidentally, Australia won in Perth which is the only big city on the West Coast. Secondly, you can't bowl Indian batsmen at home out with swing bowlers even aging legends and new players with poor techniques. You need reverse swing which actually the 2005 Eng side was far better at. The second option is pace which the Poms will rely on but is much harder to maintain in the Indian heat. Conventional swing and seam and even bounce won't do. Thirdly, as long as the BCCI gets it right and hosts the Tests in traditional grounds like Kolkata and Chennai, the younger Poms will experience hearing for the first time 30,000 scream at every ball while the Barmy Army will feel like nothing.

Posted by   on (August 25, 2011, 0:15 GMT)

If this test series had been played in India, England would have still won.

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 23:00 GMT)

"If the two teams were to dash across to Asia this week, India could well do so with interest and fury." - Sharda, even if you take the teams to India right now, they are likely to get either a flat road or a dustbowl pitch. If it's flat, England's batting is technically much more solid and deeper than India's. If Eng don't win, it would be a draw. If it's a dustbowl pitch, Swann is better than any spinner in India right now. And Broad can move the ball in those conditions as we saw in the WC. Eng have better bowlers and a better spinner so once again they would be a challenge. Let's not dream by night as well.

Posted by Chris_P on (August 24, 2011, 22:51 GMT)

Really? T20 mindset and the attached techniques is enough to say that the headline will not happen when talking of tests. A full review of a program that will develop players who would have the mental and physical capability to stand up and compete at the highest level of test cricket is needed, and that never happens overnight. Until that happens, India's ranking will continue to drop and fall to near bottom when the legends retire. Every country (except B'dash & India) have a structure to cater for tests. Prepare for a long wait in the doldrums guys, that way, you won't be as disappointed if you offer false hope.

Posted by Dr.K.H.Iyer on (August 24, 2011, 22:45 GMT)

Comparing Srinath & Kumble to Zaheer & Bhajji is unfair. Those days; in India ;bowlers were looked down upon and it took a great deal of self motivation for a bowler like Srinath to continue. Also he had to put up with the most dismal fielding unit in the World. that is not Zaheer's case. Kumble was always looked down upon as someone who could not turn the ball. these men performed against all odds without psychologists and against the scorn of their own captains.

Posted by pranavlalan on (August 24, 2011, 21:13 GMT)

Appetite to succeed will come when players who play only tests are given worthy compensation, better than what a T20 player(internation or IPL) gets. I can't believe Murali Vijay who doesnt have the technique to play test cricket earns more from his IPL stint than say Laxman(I m not aware of the contract income both get from the BCCI). But surely, young players are more lured by IPL and this will degrade Indian test cricket.

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 20:00 GMT)

I can't see India turning England inside out in their own backyard - bowlers win matches and England have better bowlers in every department. Batsman friendly wickets may allow India to draw matches, but, without a much improved bowling attack they won't win many against a batting line up as solid as England's. Mind you it still seems wierd to use an adjective like solid to describe England's batting.

Posted by IndianCricket_vs_BCCI on (August 24, 2011, 19:36 GMT)

Sharda - the appetite that you talk about unfortunately has been satiated by IPL and the One Day game. Unfortunately, Rahul Dravid, VVS, and co. are a dying breed in our cricket setup who are willing and able to tbe test specialists. On top of that, even when India were winning/drawing/tying test series in the past 2 years, the success of MS Dhoni's personal form and questionable(at best) captaincy looked ephemeral. Unfortunately for us, BCCI suffers from chronic Amnesia, and will try their best to forgive and forget our clear inadequacies in Test Cricket. Facts : In our test team, Rahul Dravid is irreplaceable, VVS Laxman is irreplaceable, Zaheer Khan(when fit) is irreplaceable, Sachin Tendulkar(when in form) is irreplaceable. On top of that, Harbhajan has been an outright failure in filling Anil Kumble's shoes. We need players who have the caliber to replace these players.

Posted by Shan156 on (August 24, 2011, 19:35 GMT)

"If the two teams were to dash across to Asia this week, India could well do so with interest and fury."

What is equally, if not more, likely is an England victory. Dravid and Tendulkar are legends and they would walk into most teams, leave alone this England side. A composite XI of the two sides would most likely feature only these two Indians. Zaheer is a very good bowler but I would rather retain a fit, young Anderson, Bresnan or Broad. The less said about the other Indian bowlers, including the over-rated Harbhajan, the better.

Indian journalists and fans just assume that India cannot be defeated at home. It is true that they have stayed unbeaten at home for the last 7 years (which no team, including England, can boast of) but that doesn't mean that it will never happen - SA came very close to beating them last year. That was mainly due to their legends and greats, some of whom are either too old and/or unfit now. There is a good chance England can win in India.

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 19:32 GMT)

"From the mix of Tendulkar, Kumble, Srinath, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman came a generation of dreamers who redefined Indian cricket, particularly outside the subcontinent. From the confidence of Test wins overseas, a World Cup final in South Africa, Test series wins in Pakistan, West Indies and England came the environment that a new generation of Dhoni, Gambhir, Ishant and Raina now works and plays in." - excellent point

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 24, 2011, 19:26 GMT)

Let's face it guys, SOME of the current generation of Indian cricketers love EASY money and EASY cricket which is T20. Now that came about cause of the IPL. I am not saying the IPL is a grunt evil anomaly. It's just that it's given so much hype and attention by the public and media. Players are free to choose a secure financial future, albeit not at the cost of the pride and dignity of representing India. For starters, the IPL should be reduced to 3 weeks. Secondly, the BCCI has to make it VERY CLEAR that any national team players opting to participate in the IPL, and in turn injuring himself will not be permitted to put up his name for selection. Some harsh decisions have to be taken for the betterment of Indian cricket. Indian cricket has a bad habit of appeasing its senior players. I think the time has come for India to start thinking like Australia, England etc. If you don't perform and are unfit physically then "THANK YOU, off you go sir".

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 19:19 GMT)

ganguly's india? are u serious? where is kapil's india? the days when kapil and co played they were paid pennies and they didnt even 10 percent of what dhoni and yuvi are earning right now..also they didnt have the massage ppl, the trainers, the physios, the coach, the assistant coach, the mental conditioning coach, the statistician, the manager, the trainers, and so on and so on..yet they won the world cup..thanks to the great kapil dev..the greatest cricketer to come out of india till now...there is no comparison between ganguly and kapil

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 19:15 GMT)

This is not the end of the road for Team India...! They need a shock treatment that they deserved..!I am waiting for the new team India..that will include new players...We all saw how the kids dominated their counterparts of SA,Aus,NZ in emerging players....Ashok Meneria,Rahane,SouravThiwary,Manoj,Thiwary,Manish Pandey,Ambatty Raydu,Varun Aron,Ikbal Abdulla,Unadkat they all played well.. And we have some talents that can step in as well.I am predicting that one player can fill the void that is going to create by Rahul Dravid that is K Lokesh Rahul from karnataka.His is a top order batsman occassionaly a wicket keeper.Then we have Rahul Sharma a tall leggie who can bat.Don't write off Raveendra Jadeja,he is hardworking and with good work ethics...He also will come up.Then i am rating Mayank Agarwal very high as an attacking Opener in all form of cricket.Pradeep Sangwan,Shami Ahmad,Buvan.Kumar are the bowlers.I dont know where is Sourav Nethravalkar who partnerd Jaidev Unadkat |(Cont..)

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 19:12 GMT)

Even if we get good cricketers for the future- as we will-- who's to say that they will not become a part of the BCCI circus? In spite of the talent and the money, why can't we be a consistent No. 1? Clearly, the players lack the self-control and the mental strength to put their feet down and rightfully campaign for better scheduling. So, they deserve what they get. And so do those Indian fans who will conveniently forget this horrific series once the ICL and IPL starts. It's up to us fans people!!! We get what we demand. If we demand INTERNATIONAL excellence, let us start by boycotting greed-induced events like ICL and IPL. Or will it take all of England, Australia, NZ, Pakistan, WI, SL, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to beat us in a home series before that happens?

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 19:03 GMT)

Great article Sharda. It's been a great time for Indian cricket till this series. Changes will have to be made. VVS should go. If he does not score, he really cannot contribute any other way. Sreesanth should not be picked, fit or not. He's VVS without the outstanding batting. My main point is-- don't you think the payers are equally to blame? What prevents SRT, MS and the other so-called 'seniors' from FIRMLY insisting on more break and practice time before a Test series? SRT especially has been very disappointing-- he should have campaigned for better schedules, for the sake of them team, if not his own records. However, there is no evidence this is happening and the team continues to follow the BCCI like mice following the Pied Piper. Then, aren't these guys as greedy and unprofessional as the BCCI? At least some of the best Aussie and English players have shown foresight, and are reaping the results-- victories for their COUNTRY'S TEAM.

Posted by ShashidharHundi on (August 24, 2011, 19:00 GMT)

In fact, this brutal beating by England has already made us to forget the Worldcup victory. Did we really win the worldcup ? Hope cricket administrators learned a lesson out of this England tour and create some bouncy pitches which helps indian players to get used to these conditions. May be they can consider having different captains for different formats. Dhoni doesn't look he belongs to Test Cricket in overseas conditions. His batting records in both WI & England proves that. Don't pick players based on their old records (Ex. RP Singh) rather give oppurtunity based on current form. Go & pick batsmen and bowlers who did well in the Ranji circuit. Selectors, keep your egos out and select Murali Karthik instead of complaining about lack of quality spinners. He would have done wonders in England Conditions. Why you didn't pick Ashwin ? When he is going to get his chances ? Please change your approach and mindset and infuse fresh blood.

Posted by Nampally on (August 24, 2011, 18:46 GMT)

Sharda: Yes India needs Men of ability but with burning appetite to WIN. This was totally lacking in this series. If you play like LOSERS, you Lose.This is where England beat out India. Despite India playing with half its top players either injured (Zaheer, Kumar,Yuvraj,Bhaiji) or playing injured (Sehwag, Gambhir, Ishant Sharma), if only they had good work ethics to stay at the crease while batting, Indian batting was good enough to draw at least 2 test matches. England bowling was just average as Mishra showed at the Oval by scoring 43 & 81 in 2 innings. If India had the greed and determination to win, Tendulkar & Mishra afterbeing well set should have put on 350 runs just like KP & Bell did for England. Why did they get out? An injury free regular Indian team would have WON this series. I feel sorry that the Indian team is being rediculed.As Kirsten said this team is still formidable. England snatched the title because India played with an injury depleted Bowlers& batsmen.

Posted by   on (August 24, 2011, 18:41 GMT)

As always, very well said Sharda.

Posted by InnocentGuy on (August 24, 2011, 18:40 GMT)

A sensible article, a first for you Ugra. In any case, it's tough to imagine a Test team with the current crop of youngsters. As you pointed out, personality stands out in Test cricket, and I can tell from looking at the personalities of our youngsters that none of them are a fit in the Test arena. What separates Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, etc is their humility. They are celebrities because of their performances. I can't identify a single player from the current crop that have the personalities of our aging greats. Except Badrinath, and maybe Pujara (haven't really seen much of him to know). Kohli, Sharma, Raina etc have talent but appear to be hot-heads. They've got to be humble, put in the hard work, stay away from endorsements and chasing girls and riding fast bikes, and focus only on improving their cricket constantly. It's a privilege to play for India and they should understand and respect and do what it takes to justify that privilege.

Posted by InnocentGuy on (August 24, 2011, 18:39 GMT)

A sensible article, a first for you Ugra. In any case, it's tough to imagine a Test team with the current crop of youngsters. As you pointed out, personality stands out in Test cricket, and I can tell from looking at the personalities of our youngsters that none of them are a fit in the Test arena. What separates Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, etc is their humility. They are celebrities because of their performances. I can't identify a single player from the current crop that have the personalities of our aging greats. Except Badrinath, and maybe Pujara (haven't really seen much of him to know). Kohli, Sharma, Raina etc have talent but appear to be hot-heads. They've got to be humble, put in the hard work, stay away from endorsements and chasing girls and riding fast bikes, and focus only on improving their cricket constantly. It's a privilege to play for India and they should understand and respect and do what it takes to justify that privilege.

Posted by krishna_cricketfan on (August 24, 2011, 18:36 GMT)

Oh my GOD. Since when did we start calling "Hussain's England" as iconic? What did they do to deserve such a big title? Except for Australia and WI squads, I do not see any of them iconic. Yes others performed well. But Aussies and WI demolished their opponents consistently in all conditions and in all formats. And their bench strength was such that they could have fielded a second XI competing against others very well.

Posted by buntyj on (August 24, 2011, 18:30 GMT)

pujara appears to be technically soundest n with good temperament; rahanes technique can improve but he seems to be hungry for runs (and may thus also work hard to improve his technique); aaron looks like he might develop into a genuine pacer of test standard; these 3 appear best investments for test future; but i wish rahane n aaron were kept away from odi/t20 n groomed only for tests

Posted by buntyj on (August 24, 2011, 18:24 GMT)

the big question is irfan. unfortunately he, fans, critics, selectors hope he will be an akram style strike bowler which is not likely; we thus miss out on what he could still become - an useful allrounder who can bat capably at 7 n if he accepts his limitations be a 5 th genuine bowler who can bowl tight cutters@ around 120kph + @ just under 3/over for 18 overs in a day on a flat track (he could do well to get a few tips from aw zaidi); this would still be a major gain for india (though admittedly an akram would be incomparably greater); but then i suppose if he developed into such an allrounder selectors would prefer he play as the 4th genuine bowler and play 6 batsmen nonetheless and we would have a max of 3 bowlers who might take wickets; n only 2 if one of the other 3 is one of our current spinners or those spinners in contention. so just as well he n others fantasise about him being the next akram and his not thus making the team.

Posted by Rahulbose on (August 24, 2011, 18:11 GMT)

India do have dangerous men, only they are dangerous to the health of cricket like one N Srinivasan. India also have men of vision and day dreams that come true like one Mr Lalit Modi, only their dreams are of short cuts to fame and money where the end justifies the means.

Posted by buntyj on (August 24, 2011, 18:11 GMT)

if we are to try youngsters at the risk of another series loss i would try youngsters at home vs windies and not down under; with 1 greentop(i would prefer 3 greentops though without the top 5 we would be on level terms with no advantage), 1 turning track n 1 flat pitch; play most youngsters in all 3 tests (even if it means a 3-0 loss) but at least 2 tests each, but this would separate the men from the boys; who could be the youngsters- vijay, mukund, dhawan; rohit, kohli, pujara, rahane; ashwin, abdullah, ojha; aaron, yadav, pk, munaf, vinay kumar; msd as captain; lets see how they perform? and why not try uthappa as a batsman-keeper in odi to start with if msd needs a rest; i suspect though that only pujara, rahane n aaron would perform well enough to join the seniors in australia; seniors should play some domestic long games to be mnatchfit; bhajji will likely stay on merit in aus due to absence of challengers, experience n batting but we shouldnt expect him to take wickets;

Posted by TwitterJitter on (August 24, 2011, 18:02 GMT)

The drama queen is at it again. It is the easiest job in the world to do a postmortem and hence to be an author of such an article and it is still rubbish. You analyze a team over a longer period and over a mid to long term horizon this team has performed reasonably well.They may be fatigued or out of form or whatever the reason they deserve to be evaluated over a longer term. You may think that this English tour is the most important thing but that is the same thing you said for SA tour and then the Aus tour and then the WC. For you except for IPL everything is important even if they play round the year. For people playing they have to prioritize. As for IPL, it is obviously important for lot of players because it provides financial security. Just as you look for a job that pays best, the players play in tournament that pays well and it pays well because market forces dictate that it is paid well compared to other games that are not well watched tho' u may feel it is inferior quality.

Posted by buntyj on (August 24, 2011, 17:53 GMT)

if we opted for a home win strategy better today to go for greentops while our top 5 are still playing and if 3 of zak, pk, ishant, aaron are match fit; india would outbowl n outscore most teams but not all; and our younger batsmen would be better equipped to face seam/swing abroad though bounce may remain a problem; but we should then be able to beat at least the weaker sides away and not slip to below 4 in test rankings. i know this is contrary to conventional wisdom in india but is the reality

Posted by buntyj on (August 24, 2011, 17:48 GMT)

we need to avoid a trap that will be tempting to prepare turning tracks at home n hope for home wins; for a start this doesnt prepare the team for playing away or identify players who may adapt better away than others; 2ndly, in the past 20 years while we didnt have warne or kumble or bedi, chandra, pras, gupte, mankad, durrani or doshi for that matter are spinners were better than most others though only kumble was quality, bhajji quality for a few seasons n kanwaljit unlucky not to get a chance for us to find out; also our batsmen were generally more accomplished players of spin than visitors; none of these is the case today; the best of our spinners in sight might fall short of raju class; our younger batsmen are no longer quite such accomplished players of good spin bowling and many other teams (sl have found prasanna, bd have a couple of left armers, pak have kaneria, windies bishoo, eng swann - all of whom are better than our spinners) tall visiting spinners have also done well

Posted by buntyj on (August 24, 2011, 17:32 GMT)

where are the youngsters to stand up? theres no real bench strength for potential test stars as distinct from odi/t20 players; only pujara, rahane, aaron show some real potential n will benefit by being kept out of odi/t20 cricket for a few seasons and if bcci would sponsor them for a season of county cricket;

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England v India at Cardiff - Sep 16, 2011
England won by 6 wickets (with 10 balls remaining) (D/L method)
England v India at Lord's - Sep 11, 2011
Match tied (D/L method)
England v India at The Oval - Sep 9, 2011
England won by 3 wickets (with 7 balls remaining) (D/L method)
England v India at Southampton - Sep 6, 2011
England won by 7 wickets (with 5 balls remaining)
England v India at Chester-le-Street - Sep 3, 2011
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