October 11, 2007

What to do with the Big Three?

Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid still have plenty to offer, but they need to be phased out gradually for the sake of the team's future
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Perhaps playing just two of the Big Three in each one-day match is the way forward © Getty Images

Australia are so damn good that they can make cricket boring. It took a below-par performance from them in Chandigarh - 16 wides were bad enough but that they cost 15 further runs would point to a wretched day for Adam Gilchrist behind the wicket - to bring the series, which was fast becoming a contest only in terms of bad behaviour, alive.

Till then, the Indian supporters, who had only a week to savour the Twenty20 glory, were growing increasingly restless. With each defeat, the cry got more shrill: how long can India carry the Big Three?

Carry? How short the public memory is. In the last one-day series India played, Sachin Tendulkar was their best batsman, playing strokes that seemed to belong to his glorious past; he had two 100-plus partnerships with Sourav Ganguly, who has batted as well in the last few months as he has ever done in his career; and Rahul Dravid shook off his indifferent Test form to play a couple of sublime innings down the order.

Yes, Tendulkar has looked shaky against Brett Lee, Ganguly ponderous, and Dravid is yet to hit his straps. And it's also true that one-day cricket requires energy, sharp reflexes, lightness of feet, and strong throwing arms. Yet the manner in which Australia resumed normal service in the 50-over game should have been evidence enough that this form requires different skills than Twenty20. In comparison to the shortest form, one-day cricket allows bowlers proper spells and captains to keep men in catching positions. In conditions that are kind to bowlers, it calls for batsmen to buckle down and survive a few overs. In more simplistic terms, there is a greater premium on wickets early on: it's far easier to recover from 30 for 4 in the 20-over game than in the 50-over one.

It wasn't pretty watching Tendulkar struggle against Lee in Chandigarh, but without his battling innings India were unlikely to have got to 291. In fact, there was a chance they would have been bowled out for under 200, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is yet lose his innocence and candour at press conferences, admitted as much. It was easier for a fellow cricketer to see the value in an innings like that.

Yet, India need to start building for the future. There are no two ways about it. They were fortunate in the last decade to be blessed with abundance. Tendulkar is a batsman of a lifetime and Dravid isn't far behind. And that they had VVS Laxman and Ganguly to back those two up was a rare stroke of luck. It has been a worry for the last couple of years that their departure will leave Indian cricket hollow. Losing them together would be a blow too severe to bear and logic dictates that their departures are phased out.

One-day cricket would be the natural place to start. Laxman and Anil Kumble, another giant who belongs to the same era, are already out of the ODI equation. It can be argued that India can afford to blood younger players in a form that puts less of a premium on traditional cricket skills than Test cricket. Also, one-day cricket provides a natural evolutionary cycle in the form of the World Cup. Countries can plan building their teams around the game's premier tournament. India need to ask themselves how many of their senior players will be around for the next edition in 2011, and whether the team will not be better served by starting to groom players who will be.

But, as always, the real issues are in danger of being overlooked by a nation heady with the unexpected success in the World Twenty20, one that has begun to chant the anthem of youth with an impatience that has a near-vulgar edge to it. This clamour for youth is based not entirely on cold logic and cricket sense but rather on sentiment. Building for the future should not necessarily mean disregarding the present, and nor should age be the overriding factor in the selection of the team. If Tendulkar must be replaced, he must be replaced by a man worthy of his shoes - he remains a considerable batsman even in his obvious decline.

Nor is it any use picking a team that is unable to compete in the most challenging of arenas. It is true India must be willing to absorb some pain for long-term gain, but just as winning is a habit, so is defeat. The challenge for the Indian selectors is to balance the need for building for the future with the immediate imperative of winning.

Building for the future should not necessarily mean disregarding the present, and nor should age be the overriding factor in the selection of the team. If Tendulkar must be replaced, he must be replaced by a man worthy of his shoes - he remains a considerable batsman even in his obvious decline

Ultimately a cricket team is about the right mix. The ideal blend is a combination of energy and spirit of youth and pedigree, experience and knowledge. India can't win in one-day cricket consistently without being sharp in the field and between the wickets, but neither can they win if they fail to ride out tough conditions and to bat out 50 overs. One-day cricket is not merely about hustling, it also allows for consolidation and construction, and every now and then it requires rescue missions - particularly outside the subcontinent, where pitches offer more movement and bounce.

It is true that India can't afford too many plodders who need to be hidden in the field. It's nothing to do with age. Not all of India's young players are natural athletes; some are, in fact, decidedly clumsy. But that said, having Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Zaheer Khan in the playing XI is to perhaps concede far too many easy runs in the field. Indian selectors have to weigh that, and the runs they lose out on by their lack of spring between the wickets, with the value they offer in terms of pure skills.

In the wake of a comment from Dilip Vengsarkar, the chief national selector, that seemed to put his senior colleagues on notice, Dhoni has described them as "indispensable". Apart from what they add on the field, he has spoken about the learnings they can offer the young players by just being around in the dressing room. Dhoni's defence was perhaps partly motivated by the need to keeping the dressing room healthy, but there was also ring of truth to it.

But Indian cricket will need to take decisions, and that process must not be clouded by what they do or don't achieve in the series against Australia and the one against Pakistan. Those decisions must be based on sound principles, an eye on the future, and the balance in team composition. Whether this is to be achieved through a policy of rotation or by a gradual phasing-out is a decision the selectors must ponder. And all of this must be accomplished without intrigue, without bowing to popular sentiments, and with transparency and a clear vision. Players, particularly those who have served Indian cricket with distinction, must be taken into confidence and told where they stand.

It's not a lot to ask for. But the way Indian cricket runs, it will be stretching optimism to expect it.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo and Cricinfo Magazine

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • chhavi on October 18, 2007, 22:36 GMT

    Sachin is indispensable as per the current scenario. Gangully I suppose should be replaced with Gambir or Badrinath or may be even Rohit Sharma, ya he can be tested as an opener. People should not worry abt Dravid, he is class apart and he is gonna find his form very soon and nowadays he scores quick too. As many of you have suggested India should look out for more quality pacers as RP and sreesanth dont deserve to play for that long at highest level.

  • Shashank_Tripathi on October 18, 2007, 13:32 GMT

    This discussion of "seniors" vs the alleged young stars is rendered moot by the final ODI with Australia. We have just been beaten by a team that averages over 30 years, continuously outplayed by players such as Symonds and Hayden who are both above 35! This puerile discussion needs to end as it only shows the obsessive idiocy of an entire nation. Could Sambit Bal and other deluded cricket fans please write up the series average of media magnets and the 'future of cricket' stars such as Dhoni, Yuvraj, and Sreesanth? Ganguly may be rightly rested from ODIs (for his solipsism more than his skill) and so too Dravid for a while (to recover from his mental slump, not an aging of talent as people hasten to misconstrue) but Tendulkar has rightfully earned his place with actual display of class and consistency. Opening an innings is difficult. Utthapas, Gambhirs, and such, have failed woefully against lethal spin of good bowling attacks. Get with the program.

  • rinsy on October 18, 2007, 3:59 GMT

    India should have a plan with Big FOUR; VVS should be drafted into one day scheme of things. Less relevant games should have only 2 of the 4 playing and could consider 3 playing major games. Juniors and new faces can revolve around that. That could better way of grooming Too many young lads for the sake of leaving out BIG 3 or 4 can only spoil the show and make the life of young lads with the team also short. Schewag, Yuvraj and Kaif thrived around the big four. Suresh raina failed when only Dravid was around. Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Badrinath can be groomed with the help of Big 3 or 4. Important matter, a plan has to be worked out with the Big 3; keeping them in dark is going to affect their presence too.

  • fasyelectronic on October 17, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    replacing the big three is a big task, tendulkar as always is superb but look at the other two, firstly we take ganguly we notice though he is scoring runs but look at his strike rate, which gives an impression as if hes only playing for himself not the team, same is the case with dravid. tendulkar if u see his game plays for the team not for himself and thats the main difference for indian team to be a strong one players will have to start playing for the team not only for themselves only then can we have a team on par to the australians.in regards of bowling department i think irfan pathan is good he promises to be a future wasim akram but for that he has to work hard and find his rythm back. If i was an Indian selector i would like to make sure that playing 11 play for the team not themselves only in this factor lies the salvation of INDIAN CRICKET........

  • KartickKrishnamoorthy on October 17, 2007, 5:04 GMT

    The "Big Three" has been talked about all the time. Cricket is a game of 11 people it is not just about 3 people in a team who have played more than 300 odd matches. What have all the other people in the team done to save the day? Everyone in the team has played for themselves. If Australia has the potential to bowl u out for a target under 150 odd runs you can also do the same. Just what lacks is a game plan. It is not a one man game. If batsmen don't fire the bowlers need to fire on all cylinders. Just blaming the batsmen will not be a good job. According to Navjot Singh Sidhu "The wickets fall like cycles at Patiala Talkies, one falls and the rest fall after it". Team India needs to have depth in their batting and also have better bowling options. If someone like Brett Lee can bat for the Ausies cant Zaheer or Harbhajan do the same for India.

  • Mahipal on October 16, 2007, 22:48 GMT

    The problem with Indian think tank is they lay too much emphasis on the future. I'm not saying that future isn't important, but I want them to give utmost priority to the current game at hand. Think NOW! What do I do NOW to win THIS game? Once you get the NOW portion taken care of consistently then, you can afford to think about the next game, then the next series, the next captain and the next world cup. On the same lines, don't focus on how to phase out Tendulkar, Dravid or Ganguly. Instead focus how to get the best out of them and win THIS game NOW. By saying "phase out", "aged" etc would not put these players in the right frame of mind. You have make them believe that they are the present and present is what matters to us.

  • shiva.sk on October 16, 2007, 9:09 GMT

    Well Said Mr. Baskar Guha,

    Sambit Bal should be phased out!!

    Mr. Bal just keep quiet and enjoy the big 3 play for just another year or so ... because they know went to call it a day.

  • ashetty on October 16, 2007, 8:42 GMT

    Who is Sambit Bal? He is entitled to his opinion, but here are some facts. Firstly what is the criteria for selection in any team? I am sure every one will agree it is performance. After his return from injury Sachin has been top scorer for India in the 3 series played (vs SA,Eng,& Aus).He has in excess of 800 runs in 16 mathches at an avg of 51.His strike rate is around 80. Ganguly has not disgraced himself either. Rahul Dravid has been out of form but it happens to every player. Everyone is quick to point out that agarkar is a very expensive bowler etc etc, and he should get the Axe.What about Shresanth? He has been consistently giving more than 6 runs/overs in the last few matchs he has played.In fact his career econ rate is close to 6.Add to that his misfields and dropped catches in every match and we have a recipie for disaster. Should he stay in the team for his silly antics? Come on guys,its not abt the big 3 or the small 3.Its about performance.

  • Shrescs on October 16, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    Why are we always blaming the batsmen and the seniors, in particular? Dravid has failed and it really cost a batsman for India in this series for sure!!But Australia is playing with out a batsman, too.Brad Hodge!!He has not hit the form at all. You know who is getting away with all these blaming on the seniors? The Indian bowlers!! They should really be thanking the seniors for taking all the heat. Its not only the batsmen that have to win the matches, always!! Aussies have so many match winning bowlers. Look at any Aussie bowler. Everyone is doing their bit.But unfortunatley for India, only batsmen need to win all the time. Australia is a very strong team. They are the best in the business for a very long time now. To topple them off of the top spot overnight is something not thinkable. We have to be glad that we have played some good cricket in this series. We have to be positive and build on whatever we got out of the series.

  • KartickKrishnamoorthy on October 16, 2007, 5:05 GMT

    A country, which is just the size of Uttar Pradesh, can produce 6 to 7 fast bowlers, but Indian Cricket is yet to have seen a fast bowler. We need to explore for more player who are capable of doing more, there are Sachin's and Dhoni's who are yet to be discovered. India has the capacity to produce a whole new Indian Team every season; the only thing that lacks is "Initiative".

  • chhavi on October 18, 2007, 22:36 GMT

    Sachin is indispensable as per the current scenario. Gangully I suppose should be replaced with Gambir or Badrinath or may be even Rohit Sharma, ya he can be tested as an opener. People should not worry abt Dravid, he is class apart and he is gonna find his form very soon and nowadays he scores quick too. As many of you have suggested India should look out for more quality pacers as RP and sreesanth dont deserve to play for that long at highest level.

  • Shashank_Tripathi on October 18, 2007, 13:32 GMT

    This discussion of "seniors" vs the alleged young stars is rendered moot by the final ODI with Australia. We have just been beaten by a team that averages over 30 years, continuously outplayed by players such as Symonds and Hayden who are both above 35! This puerile discussion needs to end as it only shows the obsessive idiocy of an entire nation. Could Sambit Bal and other deluded cricket fans please write up the series average of media magnets and the 'future of cricket' stars such as Dhoni, Yuvraj, and Sreesanth? Ganguly may be rightly rested from ODIs (for his solipsism more than his skill) and so too Dravid for a while (to recover from his mental slump, not an aging of talent as people hasten to misconstrue) but Tendulkar has rightfully earned his place with actual display of class and consistency. Opening an innings is difficult. Utthapas, Gambhirs, and such, have failed woefully against lethal spin of good bowling attacks. Get with the program.

  • rinsy on October 18, 2007, 3:59 GMT

    India should have a plan with Big FOUR; VVS should be drafted into one day scheme of things. Less relevant games should have only 2 of the 4 playing and could consider 3 playing major games. Juniors and new faces can revolve around that. That could better way of grooming Too many young lads for the sake of leaving out BIG 3 or 4 can only spoil the show and make the life of young lads with the team also short. Schewag, Yuvraj and Kaif thrived around the big four. Suresh raina failed when only Dravid was around. Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Badrinath can be groomed with the help of Big 3 or 4. Important matter, a plan has to be worked out with the Big 3; keeping them in dark is going to affect their presence too.

  • fasyelectronic on October 17, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    replacing the big three is a big task, tendulkar as always is superb but look at the other two, firstly we take ganguly we notice though he is scoring runs but look at his strike rate, which gives an impression as if hes only playing for himself not the team, same is the case with dravid. tendulkar if u see his game plays for the team not for himself and thats the main difference for indian team to be a strong one players will have to start playing for the team not only for themselves only then can we have a team on par to the australians.in regards of bowling department i think irfan pathan is good he promises to be a future wasim akram but for that he has to work hard and find his rythm back. If i was an Indian selector i would like to make sure that playing 11 play for the team not themselves only in this factor lies the salvation of INDIAN CRICKET........

  • KartickKrishnamoorthy on October 17, 2007, 5:04 GMT

    The "Big Three" has been talked about all the time. Cricket is a game of 11 people it is not just about 3 people in a team who have played more than 300 odd matches. What have all the other people in the team done to save the day? Everyone in the team has played for themselves. If Australia has the potential to bowl u out for a target under 150 odd runs you can also do the same. Just what lacks is a game plan. It is not a one man game. If batsmen don't fire the bowlers need to fire on all cylinders. Just blaming the batsmen will not be a good job. According to Navjot Singh Sidhu "The wickets fall like cycles at Patiala Talkies, one falls and the rest fall after it". Team India needs to have depth in their batting and also have better bowling options. If someone like Brett Lee can bat for the Ausies cant Zaheer or Harbhajan do the same for India.

  • Mahipal on October 16, 2007, 22:48 GMT

    The problem with Indian think tank is they lay too much emphasis on the future. I'm not saying that future isn't important, but I want them to give utmost priority to the current game at hand. Think NOW! What do I do NOW to win THIS game? Once you get the NOW portion taken care of consistently then, you can afford to think about the next game, then the next series, the next captain and the next world cup. On the same lines, don't focus on how to phase out Tendulkar, Dravid or Ganguly. Instead focus how to get the best out of them and win THIS game NOW. By saying "phase out", "aged" etc would not put these players in the right frame of mind. You have make them believe that they are the present and present is what matters to us.

  • shiva.sk on October 16, 2007, 9:09 GMT

    Well Said Mr. Baskar Guha,

    Sambit Bal should be phased out!!

    Mr. Bal just keep quiet and enjoy the big 3 play for just another year or so ... because they know went to call it a day.

  • ashetty on October 16, 2007, 8:42 GMT

    Who is Sambit Bal? He is entitled to his opinion, but here are some facts. Firstly what is the criteria for selection in any team? I am sure every one will agree it is performance. After his return from injury Sachin has been top scorer for India in the 3 series played (vs SA,Eng,& Aus).He has in excess of 800 runs in 16 mathches at an avg of 51.His strike rate is around 80. Ganguly has not disgraced himself either. Rahul Dravid has been out of form but it happens to every player. Everyone is quick to point out that agarkar is a very expensive bowler etc etc, and he should get the Axe.What about Shresanth? He has been consistently giving more than 6 runs/overs in the last few matchs he has played.In fact his career econ rate is close to 6.Add to that his misfields and dropped catches in every match and we have a recipie for disaster. Should he stay in the team for his silly antics? Come on guys,its not abt the big 3 or the small 3.Its about performance.

  • Shrescs on October 16, 2007, 7:11 GMT

    Why are we always blaming the batsmen and the seniors, in particular? Dravid has failed and it really cost a batsman for India in this series for sure!!But Australia is playing with out a batsman, too.Brad Hodge!!He has not hit the form at all. You know who is getting away with all these blaming on the seniors? The Indian bowlers!! They should really be thanking the seniors for taking all the heat. Its not only the batsmen that have to win the matches, always!! Aussies have so many match winning bowlers. Look at any Aussie bowler. Everyone is doing their bit.But unfortunatley for India, only batsmen need to win all the time. Australia is a very strong team. They are the best in the business for a very long time now. To topple them off of the top spot overnight is something not thinkable. We have to be glad that we have played some good cricket in this series. We have to be positive and build on whatever we got out of the series.

  • KartickKrishnamoorthy on October 16, 2007, 5:05 GMT

    A country, which is just the size of Uttar Pradesh, can produce 6 to 7 fast bowlers, but Indian Cricket is yet to have seen a fast bowler. We need to explore for more player who are capable of doing more, there are Sachin's and Dhoni's who are yet to be discovered. India has the capacity to produce a whole new Indian Team every season; the only thing that lacks is "Initiative".

  • KartickKrishnamoorthy on October 16, 2007, 5:04 GMT

    I think that the big three are an important part of the team. The team does not have a coach at present, the can help to groom upcoming players and make a team for the world cup 2011. I believe either Dhoni or Uthappa should come at 2 & 3, so that they have a good hit in the initial stages, and disturb the rhythm of the bowlers and then v have Ganguly, Yuvraj and Dravid to give a solid middle order. Dravid and Yuvraj can be handy in the slog overs. And we have also produced someone like Pathan who can be handy with the bat. So every card put in the right place will help you win the match. As of now Indian team is like a person who has got immense energy and potential but does not know what to do and how to put it to use. They need to use their players in such a way that it will help them win matches. India should concentrate more on producing all-rounder so that they have more options in both bowling and batting.

  • baskar_guha on October 16, 2007, 0:59 GMT

    I think Sambit Bal is creating an issue where there isn't one, for the usual reasons media folks do this sort of thing. I think you have to judge who deserves to be in any cricket team -- 20/20, ODI, Tests -- by their performances in the last 12 months at the international level and at the first class level. When there is an obvious decline of an incumbent that is sustained over a significant period of time, the player concerned, independent of age, needs to be replaced. Whether it is Sachin at 34 or Rohit Sharma at 20 is not the issue. It is whether the player has the potential to perform at a premium level in the next few months. Australia's Matthew Hayden isnt young, neither is Gilchrist and neither is Symonds, Hussey or Hogg but you dont see articles such as this. Not only are Indian cricket fans, by and large, unsophisticated, our cricket writers tend to cater to them by writing such articles. Wonder if Sambit Bal should be replaced by a younger fitter impetuous journalist!

  • Rajeev_Bishnoi on October 15, 2007, 23:05 GMT

    The issue is not batting skills of the big three. They all have scored heavily (mostly in conditions favoring them and sometimes when conditions didn't favor them). The issue is that after playing for 15 or so years, there is no motivation for them. They have never won any trophy for India. They are good but not winners. The closest analogy is "a lot of people prepare for IIT/IIM but only few get selected". Some of those who don't get selected are as talented as those who get selected. The only reason winners are winners because they handle the pressure of big occasion better. The big 3 (if you want to call them that based upon inflated averages) and because of their presence in the team, India have never been winners because of their lack of pressure handling capabilities in situations that matter like world cup and please don't call the last matc of every ODI series a final of some sort.

  • luvlyboi on October 15, 2007, 19:25 GMT

    It is truely a tough decision. But this decision should be based on what the team wants to be. Obviously the current team is by no means that lethargic in the field as one is being projected but they are slower than others. If you ponder over it, IT WAS A YOUNG SREESANTH WHO DROPPED SYMONDS IN NAGPUR. So all those who say leaving out the top premier players in Indian cricket can be justified just because of their age. Think again. Its the inclusion of all the three that has allowed India to gain victory in Chandigarh and have a sniff at it in Nagpur. India would never be the same without these three

  • guljar on October 14, 2007, 11:56 GMT

    In this series, India won one and were close today's one and in both matches it was Tendulker and Ganguly made the foundation. Dravid is in a bad patch, but I believe that is for not playing him in a fixed position. But unfortunately these great 3 will not be there for ever, so may be for one day definitely they need to have by rotation so that while they are there you can have some more get in the team.

  • Saumil-Desai on October 14, 2007, 1:19 GMT

    For India to win, they need to be what they were in South Africa, i.e Together It is but a notion that there are so-called seniors and juniors - appalling - if you're too old to play, make way for the rest. They've shown they want to. Without rhetoric, if Ganguly did not even try a dive to save himself, he's OUT as far as I am concerned. If Dravid walks across his stumps as early as he did giving Lee time to shape, he's OUT. If Powar is lumpy and can't be of use in the field, he's OUT. It's not about experience, but rather that they behave like they're out there for the first damn time! It's helped Pathan to be out, Sehwag will lead a Delhi side and those that desire will invariably and uncompromisingly return. Our memory fails us if we think we had not pitted Dinesh Karthik's selection against Dhoni in England or against Yuvraj for that matter! This game seemingly belongs to those like them that forsee a future of belligerently fighting off an age old tyrant-Australia.

  • cvik on October 14, 2007, 0:34 GMT

    Years back I used to say dropping Agarkar for Tests is a favor to Agarkar. Now same goes true for Big 3. They do not have in it them to sustain performance mathc after match. So we want them fresh everytime they take on field. And then we give opportunity to see youngsters. Who knows if Tiwary or Badrinath turns out to be better than what Ganguly or Dravid are right now. Youngsters dont have to be put against what the seniors achieved in past but against what they are doing right now. Guess what Big 3 or just anyone never take rest unless injured, and you know why? Because they know if someone comes in and performs well their position is at risk. They only have to score a 50 once every 3-4 matches. That is all required to maintain their position.

  • Amitvats on October 13, 2007, 15:29 GMT

    The issue of Big three has been flayed around for long but the question is that do all of them have defined roles, right since the england series we have seen that aggressive batsmen like Sachin and Sourav have been consolidating at the top of the order rather than taking the impetus early on which is their way of batting. I certainly believe that changing the batting order with Dhoni and Yuvraj coming in at number 3 and 4 respectively is the key..let dravid try and slog out in a couple of matches to get the rythem going ..since it helps sometimes when things are going tough. Robin Utthapa and Dravid can destroy during slog overs since both are extremely innovative with their strokeplay. India will have to start using either Bhajji or chawla from over number 13 in powerplays since that is an effective strategy with teams like Oz and South Africa. Please dont drag the issue of the big three retirement since they understand indian cricket than any reader, media person or BCCI POLITICIAN'

  • raga2008 on October 13, 2007, 13:34 GMT

    The big 3: a concept that boggles, simply because India is the land of geritatric honour: look at ut government or bureaucracy: seniority is might.

    These three guys have locked up three places and have not delivered. How does it matter what they did in the past? One played for personal records, another got a political leg up, and the third, gave up a 2-0 win for a 1-0 win! An the cuntry places its best team, not one based on a false sense of history or nostalgia - in whihch case Gavaskar should also

    These guys have lost the right: nay, they never had any. To keep theseas some form of heirlooms means that the rest of the talent is being treated as third class citizens.

    The big-3 cynically stayed out of the T20, and Dravid resigned with a timing tat stank - he should have done it after the world cup, not now.

    It is time to show them the door, as they have not done so gracefully: they no longer deserve grace.

  • cniladri on October 13, 2007, 8:45 GMT

    I don't see a single person point their finger to the one root cause behind everything that's going wrong in Indian cricket. It's not surprising though for a nation full of emotional buffoons (including the media)! To give an idea what I'm talking about just a couple of stats about the state of affairs in cricket in Australia the world champs in true sense vis-à-vis India:1) 16 out of top 18 officials in CA has played at least Sheffield Shield with two being captains of the national side(Alan Border & Mark Taylor) - only 1 of the top officials in BCCI has played first class cricket (Niranjan Shah with a bat avg of 11 & he was a batsman!)2) The head of CA James Sutherland has played Sheff Shield for years and after retirement he did an MBA and worked for a few years and then only he was considered for the top job - the head of BCCI Sharad Pawar, just another illegitimate son of the great Indian political system. So stop debating on side effects and do something about the main issue.

  • samadtooocool on October 13, 2007, 7:24 GMT

    send the same team of twenty20 to Australia this team will loose very very badly they will fail in each n every match they can play total 50 overs QUOTA..

  • samadtooocool on October 13, 2007, 7:14 GMT

    I don't agree with "anu2ra's" comment coz a captain who just givenup his captainship shud not b dropped it'll b very rude 2 him he's called the WALL of indian cricket he performed exceeding well in all the countries not like rohit sharma who is such a blunder of 1 match hero but DRAVID is the greatest hero & I bet u that most of the people agree wid me n why in those dayz that youngster called "VIRENDER SEHWAG" is given 45 or 50 match chances to prove him n that time has'nt scored 50 runs in those 50 matches & "DRAVID" is just failing in dis series ,he performed exceptionally well and y dese biggies have 10,000,11,000,15,000 runs in their bag b cause the're the best in indian cricket no 1 can replace them and these three(Sachin,Sourav,Dravid) have more cricket left for them seeing that HAYDEN(37),JAYASURYA(38)and many more players of AUSTRALIA we c average age of cricketer's is above 30+ n they r d WORLD CHAMPIONS maturity comes by age n not 1 match n that too 20 over match LOL!!

  • kingshuk on October 13, 2007, 6:54 GMT

    hello mr sambit bal.your article is very well written.but at the start you have commited a blunder .sachin has had 3 century stands rather than 2 century stands along with dada .and then the deserving players do not get a look in.please talk about them so that the board has a look at your article. parthiv patel scored 5 hundreds in the last five matches including many 50s .he is no where in the scene manoj tiwary at an average of 99 in the ranji season is no where including his 1oo in the irani trophy ranadeb bose highest wicket taker by a margin of 20 wickets is not in the picture . if these guys perform in a average way in the challenger they will have to look up fr other earning options. i request the cricinfo team to talk about these youngsters since your website is in the top 500 websites in the world and hopefully a selector will read this.

  • RedRaider on October 12, 2007, 22:08 GMT

    I suppose this is a good column to argue about. The Big 3 obviously are not measured at the normal Yardstick which is not fair. But I don't agree with some of the comments where they say likes of rohit sharma should be given a chance coz' dravid is not performing from the last 4 matches. What if Rohit sharma fails the next 4 matches? I would agree with Mr. Samit Bal's comments that Indian cricket should have a vision to build for the future. There should be a balance in rotation and every player deserves some oppurtunities. If rohit sharma fails three matches in a row, will he be given an oppurtunity to prove his class again in the next match? but what are the likes of sachin and dravid to get another oppurtunity? How will you know if any youngster can replace the big 3 unless you expose them to International arena enough? Why was sehwag given so many chances before he was dropped.Only because he exploded in a very early stage. Did you forget when sachin got his first ODI 100?

  • nccricket on October 12, 2007, 21:14 GMT

    IMHO, cricketers are not like scotch... rather more like a cheap wine. They have a shelf life.

    I am not either of these 3 gentlemen nor am I claiming that there are folks meritorious enough, yet, to breathe down their spots, but if I WAS them, I would've called it quits a while back.

    Simply because, international sport is not one's private keep and rather in the public domain.. so if one talks about the "love of the game" or "fire to perform" still burning, then one can do so in a relatively mute environment, viz, domestic circuits etc.

    Further, if one wishes to harp on patriotism, then even more so the case to build and blood new talent that maybe able to carry on the mantle.

    My 2 cents... Cheers for your indulgence!

  • gindrayan on October 12, 2007, 21:10 GMT

    I do not see much logic over this Big 3 debate. Players like Tendulkar, Ganguly & Dravid are in their own class, and given their contribution to the Indian Cricket, nobody has the right to tell them when to leave. Undoubtedly India's debacle in the ODI World Cup of 2007 was a huge disappointment and many of us wanted Sachin to retire. But look at his performance post world cup. Statistics will tell you that despite Sachin's power being on the wane of late, he is still the best batsman of India in ODI and tests. Come on, you can't expect him to play like a 20 year old anymore. Saurav has been in good form since getting back in the team. Agreed, Dravid is struggling at the moment, but give him time guys. He has saved India from many disastrous defeats in the past and given more time, there is no reason he can't do it again. Above all, just their mere presence in the team brings a lot of confidence and experience. When time comes, they would be graceful enough to leave.

  • thenkabail on October 12, 2007, 18:58 GMT

    The big 3 needs to be played based on a rotation policy.

    The team for the last 2 ODI matches ought to have been (this is more or less the team you need):

    Shewag, Uttappa, Parthiv Patel, Yuvraj, Badrinath, Dhoni, Ifran Pathan, Sreeshanth, RP Singh, Harbajan Singh, Munaf Patel.

    Others in team: Zaheer Khan, Prajat Ohja, Rohit Sharma, Ishat Sharma, Dinesh Karthik

    Reserves: Sachin, Rahul, Tiwary, Appanna.

    Yes, I will easily drop Ganguly.

    For the tests the team ought to be:

    Shewag, Uttappa, Dravid, Yuvraj, Sachin, Badrinath, Dhoni, Ifran Pathan, Sreeshanth, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel.

    Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Gambhir, Ishant Sharma, Dinesh Karthik

    Reserves: Suresh Raina, Ramesh Power, Manoj Tiwary, Piyush Chawla, and Appanna.

    If we play the above team, you will more or less begin to see the results. There ought to be rotation policy in ODIs and 20\20s.

  • yuvakudu on October 12, 2007, 18:40 GMT

    WINNING IS IMPORTANT. PERFORMANCE IS IMPORTANT. IF THEY PERFORM THEY SHOULD BE IN. AGE IS NOT IMPORTANT.

  • pksmen on October 12, 2007, 17:54 GMT

    With the technical facilities available to analyase and identify the weaknesses of batsman the opposition is bound to exploit such weakness after 30 to 40 matches if the batsman himself does not identify it and correct them. Virender Sehwag could never overcome his problem to handle lifting ball outside the off stump and he performed well only till it was found out.The 3 senior players have been working on their weakness and they could come back from poor patches. Rotation is good for them but all situations may not be apt to do that. Most international cricketers of standing have played upto 37 years of age including the retired guys in India who dwell upon the retirement issue of the three great Indian players who still have no equals in the present team. Ganguly and Dravid are little slow in the field and that was the case even in their younger days but they showed good reflexes and could be used at the right places where too much running is not involved.

  • howizzat on October 12, 2007, 17:15 GMT

    The trio is definitely not going to play 2011 WC. In order to build up the team for 2011 replacements are need to be sought. Even if the trio is in good form, they should be rested for one match after they played 2 matches and it would be better if only 2 of the trio played every match. And the newcomers should be given at least 3 or 4 matches consecutive matches. Even other regulars should be given occasionally a skip for one or two matches so as to remain fresh and to ascertain how it will be without them. The build up should also include increased number of India A series against stronger teams. Every aspirant should be selected in CHALLENGER SERIES which can expanded round robin format of 4 teams without finals. DULEEP TROPHY should be converted into premier ODI tournament, preceeding the CHALLENGER TROPHY. DULEEP TROPHY should consist of top 4 RANAJI teams and 2 teams comprising rest of India, playing round robin format without finals.

  • longlivelittlemaster on October 12, 2007, 15:04 GMT

    i don't understand the need of all these journalists and(so called) cricket gurus to keep talking of the retirement of the big three.they have have in this series proved that the T20 win should be taken with a pinch of salt. we are not able to win in our own backyard with the big three present how did we expect to win without them? all of the T20 wc winning team have failed miserably(barring yuvi in one match).the young blood still needs to know the difference between a fluke win and well groom victories..aggresion not withstanding;-) " god please forgive them as they know not what they're saying"

  • moonreckers on October 12, 2007, 14:51 GMT

    How old is Mathew Hayden, Sanath Jaysurya, Gilchrist, Symonds, Ricky Pointing... name continues.... We Indian cricket fans are letting these media guys create these issues... stop listening to them, they will not bother... I'm confident 1/3 will play in the world cup, prolly 2... age is not the factor, performance is... rotation policy is good.. give players 3 chances.. if they dont play.. rest of the series get somebody else... selectors came out with rotation policy.. but for what? i dont see any rotation... crazy politics... dravid should be rested now for the rest of the 2 odis... zaheer shud be rested.. rohit sharma, vrv/ishant shud be given chance

  • sehgal on October 12, 2007, 13:49 GMT

    The issue of the big three has always been under intense scurtainy, it just increasing becuase the players are getting older. I believe India's bowling attack is in disaray, after the test series with England, which i went to see, Zaheer Khan's input has been questionable, i feel he wastes the new ball, as well as conceding runs in odi's. Moreover, Irfan Pathan has proved himself since coming back into the India teama and should surley open the bowling again, where he was prolific, along with a another geunine swing bowler. Also, India's spinning options of the future i believe lie with harbhjan singh and chawla, especially chawala needs to be played consistantley so he can develop.

  • cosair89 on October 12, 2007, 10:48 GMT

    The big 3 should not be made to feel that their places are set in concrete. If they do not perform, they should be dropped or rotated. The selectors did it to Shewag,so they should be consistent in thie selection. Of the three, Dravid is a weak link. He is a good test player but not a one day player. Australia is the best team in the world and it will take an off day by them for a team to beat them. They play to win and each player has the killer instinct. They study their opponents and have a plan for each batsman. India needs a good coach who is able to guide each player and get the best of him. India is certainly loosing its direction and perhaps we need an overhaul in the Board to give some life to Indian cricket

  • Put_ur_best on October 12, 2007, 10:46 GMT

    They are playing at their best, but which is not enough for the current situation. As their strike rate was not so strong, it becomes risky to youngsters to increase the run rate which will also increase the pressure over the youngsters. So batting order should be changed as their experience is needed to the team. They have to come in middle order, and they should maintain run rate at 6 by taking run for every ball. I think this will be the best thing.

    The main reason for games lost is DOT BALLS. These experienced guys are not concentrating on DOT BALLS, which will increase pressure. When you take singles, run rate will increase automatically, without these single even you hit boundaries once in a over you can't see much result in the end result.

  • mani84mani on October 12, 2007, 7:40 GMT

    I think, rather than thinking about removing the big 3, what really needs to be done is, in fact change n rotate the younger players, and try to find who of them is consistent and give them chance to prove(not just one match or one series)and provide enough opportunities for all of them. This way in the later years these young players can take hold of the reigns from the senior players. Moreover instead of axing them from the squad, the big 3 should be given rest in between matches(by policy of rotation).

  • indiancricket on October 12, 2007, 3:13 GMT

    ''''''''''''''Actually, I think the 3 should retire. 1. They are all above 34; so for the next WC they will be 38....not many has played that late. Its better to give youngsters change to prove mettle and get valuable experience. 2. With the 20-20 WC we got few confident youngsters; time is ripe to take the risk I think the big 3 can play in Test for another 1-1.5 years and call retirement in ODI by end of the Aussie series. Posted by Tali on October 11 2007, 07:43 AM GMT'''''''''' I agree to him. The presence of these B3 is not giving us a taste of victory then why can't we have young team who will learn by playing against australia. We need a change. Unlike t20 WC team, I don't see the killing stinct in this team........

  • indiancricket on October 12, 2007, 3:09 GMT

    """"""""""Without getting obsessed about the personalities, I would like to know if Mr.Sambit Bal has checked of good replacements for all the three (and Laxman? and Kumble in tests?). This mad rush for 'young blood' is plainly stupid as if the seniors are preventing the 'young blood' from entering the team. Faster/younger hands/feet does not mean a quicker/thinking/intelligent head which is the need of the hour rather than younger birth certificates. Posted by RaghuramanR on October 11 2007, 07:58 AM GMT

    """"""""

    YES they are stopping youngster. Its a money game and a lots of lot money involved. Sachin is dreaming of buying seaview banglow which will cost him Rs 10 crores on nariman point. Yes , if they stop playing for india this money flow will stop coming to their account.

  • AntZ on October 11, 2007, 23:20 GMT

    Stop this Big3 nonsense. The player who produce the goods are the players who stay. Every player in a team needs to be measured with the same yard stick. unfortunately Indian critics and fans are very harsh and unrealistic. The Big3 are always measured with a biased yardstick, a yardstick way above the normal yardstick.

    STOP EXPECTING TOO TOO MUCH OUT OF THE BIG3. THEY ARE NOT GODS

  • NAVS on October 11, 2007, 21:34 GMT

    Why look at the big three only, i do not think it's fair. Look at the whole team, thus all Indian bowlers. When was the last time they performed. If merit is given on performance and that the way it should be, leaving all emotions aside. For last 16 years there's only one player who deserves to be there, and we all know who.

  • KeithHall on October 11, 2007, 21:30 GMT

    If India's selectors follow the pattern that West Indies' took, they will find themselves lower in the losing column of International Cricket. There is absolutely no need to get rid of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly at this time. Tendulkar is still among the very best and most exciting batsmen in the world today, give him time to recover from Greg Chappel's exit which was the most positive thing to happen in Indian Cricket for years, he was Sachin's and Sourav's nemesis. Point, let's consider Ganguly's performance since his return because of Chappels absence. You do not get rid of talent such as the "Indian big three" in the manner that my selectors did with the likes of, (are you ready for this?) SIR GARFIELD SOBERS, BRIAN LARA, Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge. Let these gentlemen tell you when they're ready to go, they're dignified enough to do just that.

  • sunrisesinwest on October 11, 2007, 20:38 GMT

    I am really disappointed that really respected writers/commentators continue to harp on the issue of seniors and how to phase them out. All this puts unnecessary pressure on everyone. India's cricket audience is a still a maturing one. With the boom of the media for the last 5-7 yrs..everyone has become a self proclaimed critic. We then lose sight of what is most important to the team. Seriously performance must be the criteria for selection. Tell me how many of the so called youngsters can really replace the big three? Only in the subcontinent we blood people when they are 17-18 yrss old. After a years success the other teams figure them out. And soon they relegated to back benches of Indian cricket. In Australia a person breaking into the team is 25-27 yrs old( What Yuvraj is now). They play competitive cricket for 5-6 seasons and they are mature and ready for international cricket. If India can start doing that we wont have this problem. The guys who come in will be good.

  • anu2ra on October 11, 2007, 19:50 GMT

    Its not about AGE...its about the way they are contributing the team. When the YOUNG team won theT20..what is the need to change that team. Rohit Sharma is out of playing 11 becoz he failed one match, but Dravid failed all four matches...? Everyone on the team should be treated the same way...out of form..out of the team...doesn't matter wether you are a senior or junior....

  • thephilosopher on October 11, 2007, 18:35 GMT

    Mr Bal's article is neither here nor there akin to the Indian team. He fails to understand that no man is bigger than the Indian team itself. So, what if Tendulkar and Ganguly have performed in the recent ODIs - the bottom line is that India lost the England ODI series despite their performances. One can throw this argument out of the window if India were winning. Since India have been losing consistently and can't even compete on level terms with the Aussies, now is the time to let go of the so called "big three", since they won't be around for the next ODI WC. India must invest in their youth and they only need to look at Bangladesh for their youth policy. Given the talent of Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tewary, Raina et al, it is only a matter of time before they make their mark on the world stage. So, the clamour for youth isn't sentimental but only logical considering India's repeated failings!! If India stick with their indispensable trio, all is doom and gloom!!!

  • chetsGame on October 11, 2007, 17:53 GMT

    Big 3!! its been a hot issue on the field, out of the field, headlines and what not. But, one has to agree that they play a huge role in Indian Cricket. They have skills and no one can raise a finger on it. The only point is How Long?

    For how long India has to rely on these three greats? and we will have to also take into considertaion that we DO NOT have a replacement for them yet. Dhoni is going good, Yuvraj is in gr8 nick, Zaheer is doing his bit, new boys are picking up well. The future looks promising yet we are in doubt about whether we can outplay the Big 3?

    We saw what the recent series with Australia is moving. We saw what happen when the Best Opening pair came to crease and we also noticed what happens when they do not fire. So the question is Can they be really replced?

    The answer is yet to come and we should take it in right spirits. Dusk follows the Dawn and we can not stop it. Its the Rule!!!

  • tendravid on October 11, 2007, 17:28 GMT

    Sachin is the best opener in a million years but he can be rested occasionally. We have to drop dravid for shewag because he can bat faster and also bowl. Gang has done enough to stay at the top of the order. Age cannot be a criterion for selection. Sachin is fit and doing g8. he is the worlds best batsman and a run machine who cannot be compared with anyone else playing currently.

  • AARGEE on October 11, 2007, 17:13 GMT

    I AGREE with Sambit Bal but with a correction.....

    We need to phase out DRAVID, TENDULKAR AND GANGULY in a HURRY!!!

    As a matter of fact we need to drop Zaheer, Murli Karthik, and Laxma for GOOD, i.e., ALL OLDIES.

    My reasoning. We lose with all these people in the team WHY NOT try young players. They might do T20 for us again and again and again.....

    AARGEE

  • inspire on October 11, 2007, 16:57 GMT

    Its a real pity that a person of Sambit's knowledge and experience would write an article like this, at a time the big 3 are out of form. Imagine if Tendulkar had scored a century last night, and India won the match, or if Ganguly and Tendulkar put on a 100 run partnership..would you have said the same thing? calling it quits for the three pillars of indian cricket is not appropriate at this time. I certainly agree that they need to retire, but they deserve graceful exits of the kind that Chappel brothers, Waugh brothers had to say the least..India needs to remember these three heros if it were to succeed in the long run!!

  • 11GLADIATORS on October 11, 2007, 16:48 GMT

    I agree to the fact that BIG GUNS are slowing down and we need to look into the future and blah blah blah...? Lets be honest here nobody can predict the future. Pull the plug on the BIG GUNS and see more drastic results look what happened to W.indies or zimbabwe after lara, heath streak or flower brothers. I know zim was never a great team but they were not as bad as right know. And we should also know every team cannot be AUS we all cry bcoz they r the best but instead of refining ourselves we r just crying. Indian team is chosen on zone/relations etc otherwise how in the world ROMESH POWAR gets a place in the Indian team, Anil Kumble will be still better than him even when he will be 80 or something.Firstly people should be realistic about cricket and have open mind to win or loose and not start throwing bottles on the opposite side. We are known for our HOSPITALITY and not hostility. But I really feel DRAVID should be dropped from ODI bcoz he looks so lost and misfit for ODI VERSION

  • Leggie on October 11, 2007, 16:48 GMT

    Excellent article Sambit. It comes at the right time. To see the kind of media coverage about possible retirement of Sachin/Saurav/Rahul is also absolutely ridiculous. Two of the three have scored 1000 runs this calendar year. And 34 is not "too old" to be playing cricket. The likes of Waugh, Warne, McGrath, Lara et al played till 36, and they retired in their own terms. And here in India, we've been talking about the big 3 retirement for almost an year now!!

  • RockyGomes on October 11, 2007, 16:13 GMT

    It's not big 3 or small 8, the fact is every team in the world loses to Australia. Australia is way above than the rest of the world, just like Brazil in football. When they lose, it becomes a headline. Australians do not care about how old is who, they only care about who can win them the next match. That's the key to their success. They always have a winning attitude. They always go there to win the match at hand. They don't select a team that they think, will win them a world cup four years later. Winning builds an attitude that helps build the players for the future. I have seen players jumping in joy for hitting a 50 or a 100, when the team score was 129/9. This is silly. Indians should go to the stadium not see a Tendulkar's 100, they should go for India's victory. Winning may not be everything, but it is the best thing.

  • cricniscient on October 11, 2007, 16:10 GMT

    I want to know who is responsible for popularizing this notion of weeding out the elder players in a side, merely on the basis of age. Matt Hayden is dominating cricket at the moment, though most pundits proclaimed he was too old to be "the Hayden of old". Jayasuriya had to unretire because the "youth" of Sri Lanka cricket weren't very good, which is not necessarily related to being inexperienced. How many runs did the young Gautam Gambhir get this series?

    Youth for the sake of youth doesn't make any real sense, unless you're holding back a herd of Mike Husseys, and India isn't.

  • Kumar_cricket on October 11, 2007, 16:10 GMT

    I partially agree with Sambit's comments, but still age is the criteria. I don't think so. Such kind of things will collapse the dressing room. I think we need keep them as long as they can perform and Dont judge them with the current series against Australia. But at the same time we need to give opportunities to younger players so that players will have the confidence and experience to take up their spots once the big three left the arena. I think our India team is very lucky to have big 3 for next 3 yrs at least. But again it depends on the younger players. The Indian team needs to react fast but with caution.

  • kirangurujane on October 11, 2007, 15:58 GMT

    Let me ask a question "Do we replace our father if he stops earning and gets old?". I guess the answer will be "no" because we respect him for what he has done in his green days. For a moment lets assume we replace these 3 with the likes of badrinath, raina and other new names. Let's forget what these big 3 have done in the past. Even if you take their current performances, do you think there is anyone in the ranks to match these performance which we all think is below par. Why is a 45 from Raina / Kaif is great but 45 from Sachin or Dravid is bad? Do you think bowlers would feel any pressure before bowling the first ball if they know they are bowling to Raina or Badrinath. These 3 are still playing because they are not challenged by the new talent. If they are challenged then I feel they themselves will make way for such talent. Lets leave it to them to decide their exits and till then lets respect them for what they have done and admire them for what they are doing.

  • loyalIndianfan on October 11, 2007, 15:52 GMT

    Does Australia talk about ML Haydens age or Ponting or Gilchrist their Big three-No, they just let them perform! Lets just let our Big three play and let their willows do the talking instead of always questioning whether it is time for them to leave!

  • SriCricket on October 11, 2007, 15:18 GMT

    There is a lot of debate about droping the big three. But if see the last south Africa, England and the One day series in India if these three perform India wins the matches (England three hundred partnerships between sachin and ganguly. Alomst century partner ship in chandigarh). which shows that the problem is not with the big three. Present youngsters are good enough for 20Twenty only. But when it is to staying at wicket for longer overs they are unable to deliver and the big three are being blamed for that. BCCI should find youngsters who are atleast at par before replacing them. We have already seen the result under chapple. He tried to bring in new blood into the team. In doing so he put more pressure on seniour palyers and india lost more matches. Till date we could not find suitable replacement for the three.

  • smashing_sidd on October 11, 2007, 15:02 GMT

    I disagree to the point of phasing the Big3 out. Lets leave Sachin alone,as even though his batting powers might have declined,he remains the best batsman in the side hands down.Seven 50s in the past 12 games is an ample proof of that.As for Ganguly and Dravid,they are too good players to be left out of the side.The whole discussion surrounding the Big3 seems to be stemming from the fact that a young Indian side performed exceptionally in the T20 WC,but the 50 over game is a different ball game altogther and I doubt whether the likes of Gambhirs,Uthappas and Rainas would be able to match the consistency and the class of the Big3,home and abroad.Lets remember that the four games that India have won in the past 12 are the ones in which they were given a good start by Sachin and Sourav.These players are indispensable and let us not force our will on them, and let them decide when to hang their boots. Looking towards the future is good, but lets not skip the immediate present. Cheers

  • Desimunda on October 11, 2007, 15:01 GMT

    Ironically, since Dravid left captaincy to focus on his batting, he hasn't played well with the bat !!! I think the problem is not the big three but other players such as Uthappa who is technically not that good to face the new ball. I also can't understand why Sehwag isin't given a chance specially on an Indian wicket where there is less lateral movement. It's better also if India brings brings in some new talent such as Manoj Tiwari and Subramanium Badrinath !!

  • sajithkuttan on October 11, 2007, 15:01 GMT

    please dont think about replacement for Sachin!!! you have to wait for years to get another player like him. dhoni/yuvraj/gambhir/uthappa are nothing under pressure.This guy's are good after 25 overs in ODI and good for twenty20 too.I strongly belive that big3 must saty in the team atleast for 1 year

  • arun_abraham on October 11, 2007, 14:52 GMT

    i have to say that its a bit harsh on thinking about dropping three greats.in the present game 34-35 is not old.not so fit players like inzamam and brian lara played till 37,jayasurya still going strong at 38.the basic thing is that if the player is fit and in form ,then why the thought of retirement .in the case of sachin,i do agree that he is on a decline but still he became the leading scorer in england.saurav played his part as well.yes,dravid looks out of sorts.the tag of mr.reliable is not there anymore.moving on to the youngsters,yuvraj is all quality,dhoni is not dependable,uthapa has shots and guts but no consistency ,rohit sharma is not there yet.in short india is nothing without the great 3 ,at least for the moment

  • Phil_Micklewright on October 11, 2007, 14:38 GMT

    Tendulkar was Indias highest run scorer in England during both Series ODIs and the Test matches. Ganguly since returning to play for India is averaging 55 in the ODI format and Dravid is also a Powerful force just struggling for form. You also need to remember the likes of Brian Lara retired at the age of 38 which at least gives the selectors a chance to find replacements although replacements for Legends like those guys will be hard to find. Maybe fazing them out of ODI format within the next year or so will be a good Idea but India should not drop them from the Test squad just yet. Certainly not Tendulkar however he is still to good a player to be dropped/fazed and there is no one that I think can even come near to his class

  • Rametlon on October 11, 2007, 14:21 GMT

    Very interesting artcile. One thing I could not understand is the fielding part.

    Do we have any data that will tell us the runs conceded by the Trio due to their bad fielding?

    Mr Bal, please ask your stats department to come up with the mis-fielding runs given away figures for the last 4 games with Ausses and the 7 with England. It will certainly throw light on this aspect of the Trio if that is true.

    Thanks

  • KushG on October 11, 2007, 14:15 GMT

    Whilst most people do see the big 3 as getting older, and thus there retirement on the horizon, what they may be forgetting is that these 3 batsmen, regardless of there past history, are still the tops batsmen of the world... over the last 5yr when sachin has played he has still averaged higher then most of the 'replacement younger blood'.

    so why are we trying to force such a player off the pitch, not only is he adding runs on the board, but his mere presence: both encourages his team, AND focuses the attention of the bowling team on Sachin (how to get him out?) rather then the 'new-be' at the other end...

    Even today, one of the first questions i get asked while India is batting is: "Is Sachin still there?" Why is that?

    I would challenge any player, at any level to consistently perform with the pressure 'the 3' face, not only from the bowlers but from there own team and most of all, us..

    Its time for the rest to step up and take responsibility, not just once but every game.

  • Jeemo on October 11, 2007, 13:57 GMT

    A fish cant live without water...how do you expect the indian cricket team to go on without the Big-3? I personally dont believe the indian team should even think about resting any of the big-3. Whose good enough to replace sachin? if anyone was, wouldnt they already be in the side by now? and what about rahul dravid? a person whose known as 'the wall'...india cant produce another player like him...as far as ganguly is concerned, he's been in the best form of his life since he has made his comeback...so by dropping any of these guys, you dont only need to have guts, but players who can fill in their shoes...so far, i dont see that happening...anyone with me?

  • cheenubots on October 11, 2007, 13:43 GMT

    Sambit is correct in his analysis.Bot there is a problem. The BCCI selection policy leaves a lot to be desired and does not help in finding talent. We also do not have fast and bouncy wickets for First Class Batsmen to understand the techniques needed to play fast bowling. Indian players are capable of facing speeds or around 135Km and not more. We even select bowlers like Agarkar who bowls at 125km. The rotation policy in conjunction with proper selection can make us world champions. We, the spectators have been prayin and hoping for that day to arrive.

  • aditya87 on October 11, 2007, 13:42 GMT

    This is absolute nonsense. Hayden is over 35 years old, Ponting and Gilchrist are also pretty old. They don't give the impression that age is impeding them. I don't think it's age as far as the Indian Big Three are concerned either. I think what's killing careers in Indian cricket right now is nonstop cricket. Do you realize how many matches we've played this year? Before the World Cup, we had two back-to-back one-day series; after the Cup we had the tour to Bangladesh with two Tests and three one-dayers; and then to Ireland and England with three Tests and ten one-dayers, followed by the Twenty20 world cup, and now this (after which it's more one-day cricket followed by the tour to Australia). It's difficult to maintain a consistent level of performance when you're playing so many games in a year. On the other hand, Australia are fresh after the World Cup right now. I think the money-hungry power-maniacs at the BCCI should realize that less cricket will definitely improve performance.

  • Soham on October 11, 2007, 13:17 GMT

    I feel that Indian cricket is heading for a barren patch in the coming years, especially in the Test arena. For all the talk about bringing in youth, how many of the younger players in the current squad would be able to bat out a day in difficult conditions against a hostile attack? My point is, its not enough to have the talent. You need the technique, the patience, and above all the temperament to wriggle out of tight spots. You can only inculcate that in younger players if they have someone like a Dravid or a Tendulkar to learn from, not coaching stuff like the stance or run-up, but about the correct attitude at the wicket, something no coach can teach you. Agreed, you cannot have too many oldies in the squad, but you need at least one or two to share their experiences. For that you have to be ruthless, not care about sentiment or public opinion, but about performance. But you can't dump them altogether chasing the mirage of a young side, because they are still the best you've got.

  • AsherCA on October 11, 2007, 12:56 GMT

    I can see a lot of love & adulation for the big 3 over here, also someone questioning if replacements are available. Just for reference of those who want to know if replacements are available - given the nature of wickets in Indian domestic cricket, you will never know unless you really try. If you look for a team combination of 5 batsmen & insist on keeping the big 3, you have only 2 slots for batsmen - where is the opportunity to test the newcomers ? I would suggest that India follows Vengsarkar's suggestion of rotation, not more than 2 of the big 3 being part of the Indian one-day team, no one of them to play more than 2 consecutive matches. Their performance not to be measured in the runs they score off their own bats, but the runs they help India get out of the youngsters for India.

    This would also meet Sachin's own basic requirement -as per him, his body requires longer to recover from the strain of a one-day match today than it did a few years back.

  • ragomsk on October 11, 2007, 12:39 GMT

    During the 2nd. ODI of the current series i made a comment that it was time for the big 3 to be replaced. The efforts of the youngsters in the 2020 World Cup shows that there is a pool of talent. It merely requires nurturing and support form the selectors. I also saw this same phenomenon whel Paul Gascoigne was playing in the FA Cup finals in the game he first tore the ligaments of his knee, while he was n the field the whole of the Spurs team kept passing hoim the ball as if they could not do anything on their own, after he left Spurs played to each other and won the finals. When there is a super star in the team the rest tend to play to him and this not only puts pressure on the start but also inhibits the rest from playing their own game. While a great debt is owed to the Fab 3 it is time to bid adieu and look to the future.

  • surya_adi on October 11, 2007, 12:01 GMT

    let's find 3 batsmen in india who can play harmison, ntini, lee and mohd asif better than tendulkar, laxman, dravid and ganguly and we will bring them in for the aged warriors. till such time let's put this debate to rest.

  • rksuper on October 11, 2007, 11:39 GMT

    Ok, the big3 aren't performing. what about the rest of the squad? so lets replace the whole team with a bunch of school kids who have the talent and improve as time goes on. Now is the time to groom the existing players (dhoni/yuvraj/gambhir/uthappa/rp/ piyush etc)when the big 3 are around... Increase moer "A" tour matches and let those who want to come in, prove themselves in all trying conditions abroad and at home and come in. The australian policy is worth mentioning.. prove yourselves consistently at the domestic & "A" tour levels and get in... Badrinath is probably one who deserves a look in..

  • mushy876 on October 11, 2007, 11:38 GMT

    Sambit.. Nice article mate.Agree when you say that we cant have "change for change's sake"!We tend to forget the great run these 3 had in England.So much so that were secretly hoping that Sachin would do a re-think abt the T20 WC! All this clamour for young guns like Badri ,Raina, etc., seems based on the assumption that these guys would necessarily run up big scores against quality opposition.For god's sake,people like Raina and Kaif had been dropped,not rested or injured, and had been asked to shore up their techniques! I agree its necessary to have new blood and that the Big3 have to be replaced someday, but atleast to me its not an impending issue. Cheers.

  • CricketBalaji on October 11, 2007, 11:27 GMT

    Most of the points are fine but the one regarding the replacement for Sachin lacks cricket reading. If a player is worthy enough to replace Sachin he would already be in the side.

  • Manuu on October 11, 2007, 11:21 GMT

    Send the T20 team to Australia. After they lose 4-0 everybody will be asking for the big 3. The problem here are not players but the people who have very short memory and a basic lack of understanding of the game itself. The real solution I beleive is to rest one of the three for two ODI games at a time and see how the replacements pan out. The rest will enable the three to perform better as well as give opportunity to the younger lot who will also benefit from their presence. In a matter of 1-3 years depending on form they may choose to drop themselves from the ODI's. If not then well a gentle pat on the back may be needed then. Till then show appreciation and show respect and try to understand the game a little more before making silly comments that hurt Indian cricket. Sambit is right on the money here.

  • Ratnadeep on October 11, 2007, 11:12 GMT

    I don't know what to say. Just dropping them because they are 34 doesn't make sense. And they are not that bad a fielder as they are made out to be. If dropping them for their fielding, drop Zaheer, R.P, Munaf, Powar and you have half the side gone. If dropping them for their age drop Rudi Koertzen, Bucknor et al. The bottom line is drop the Fab 3 if you have replacements to fill, if not, a big no. Is Gambhir, Karthik, Uthappa, Raina half as good? No. Then why even think of that. This is a useless debate and I hope Mr. Sambit Bal has more important things to do than this mere time passing.

  • Arjun85 on October 11, 2007, 11:02 GMT

    What is sad is that age has become a criteria for selection. Just because these guys are 34, they are suddenly not good enough for the team. In England, Tendulkar was our leading run scorer and I believe the majority of matches that we have won have been with Tendulkar-Ganguly at the top. Find a batsman who can score 6 50s in 10 matches like Sachin did in England, and then talk about replacing him. While I agree with Sambit Bal that their retirement will leave a big void in Indian cricket, why should we sacrifice present success in the hope that we can find someone who will grow into their shoes? Our domestic system should be capable of grooming players well. Lara was as important to the West Indies as the Big Three are to us, primarily because the Windies lack other quality players. Did he skip alternate matches to blood youngsters? I say let them play till they think we can - enjoy them while their era lasts.

  • Criketanand on October 11, 2007, 10:51 GMT

    So what happened to the junior players today. did yuvraj or dhoni,or uthapa come to the rescue. Out of batsmen only tendulkar managed some runs, It would have been similar story in last match had ganguly and tendulkar not managed to survive initial 20 overs, they played slow but at least gave the team a foundation to build on

  • Nakul007 on October 11, 2007, 10:46 GMT

    timing is essential for the phasing out of the Big 3. the BCCI must carefully manage this and make sure the balance between out team being too old and the knowledge these 3 bring to the cricket field.

    i think that dravid's time has come in the ODI arena. he is the least suited to ODI's of the Big 3 and he does not bowl. his form as of late has been patchy at best and now that he no longer captain only reputation is keeping him in the team.

    in the test arena they are all safe for the moment but i think that sooner or later one of them will have to go. it is essential that this issue is handled delicately and professionaly. these 3 are amongst the best India has ever had and i am sure would be indespensible as future coaches/consultants. any disagreement with the board and that could all be thrown out the window.

  • Simplythebest on October 11, 2007, 10:40 GMT

    Sambit, it doesn't look like you have anything better to do than write an article just for the sake of it. There is no place for 'building' a team for the furure at international matches, this is done at lower levels and maybe 'A'tours. The best available team should be picked, whether it includes a 50 yesr old or a 16 year old. Every international game must be contested with your very best. If 'grooming' players at this level is required then there is something wrong with the cricket base and policies of your country. Lay of these stars untill better players come through. I was once told by an old amateur golfer who was consistantly slected for national events ahead of budding younsters to "get the youngsters to perform better than me and only then she can take my place, and I want to see who can challenge me".

  • Happy_Ireland on October 11, 2007, 10:39 GMT

    I absolutely agree to Sambit. The time has come to look beyond the Big three.There is no place for sympothy in sports.i do agree they were good players at their time and they enjoyed the appreciation and credit for that.If you look at the way things are going, it seems that their records are only history now.It will be difficult to wash out the three together immediately. But as said in this article, one or two can be chance at a time maximum. And this should be rotated. At the same time, I don't agree giving tendulkar/Ganguly the opening position. They should be put lower the order in batting and India should groom yougesters at important positions.Recent batting of tendulkar shows that he no more deserves the stamp of No.1 player. Tremendous luck got him some odd 80 runs in Chandigarph match. And Dravid was a shadow of his class. The time has come to decide whether we should still show sympothy to Big 3 or we should take efficient steps to make Team India a Winning Team!

  • Rajwade on October 11, 2007, 10:33 GMT

    I agree to Sambit Bal's views and unfortunately, also to the last line of the article. There is a need to bring in youth into one day cricket as they are the future. The point is not whether the big 3 are good enough now or not or whether the replacement is good enough to fill their shoes. The point is, that these youngsters have to be made aware that they have to take the responsibility of the future and win matches for India. 2 out of these 3 shud play in all matches & also they should bat in the middle order (Nos.5&6). It is important for the youth to be allowed to bat up the order & set up wins for the team to get the confidence. They hv to learn to bat 50 ovr to win matches. Cameos don't win matches, but hard grind does, more often than not. Both Sach & Sau, opening the innings, get tired by the 30th over & thus despite the batting ability, the body does not have the strength anymore & it shud be accepted. They can finish matches from Nos 5&6 while moulding the youth around them.

  • SouthernGizmo on October 11, 2007, 10:32 GMT

    I agree with Sambit. Guys who don't agree with him doesn't seem to have read his entire article. It is a known fact that these (senior) guys won't be around at next world cup. It is also imperative that we groom as many youngsters as possible before 2011 under the guidance of the seniors. So how do we solve this paradox? We need to rotate the seniors by selecting one or two at a time and giving more chances to youngsters who are eager to prove themselves. This way the team is not entirely inexperienced and have more chances to peak when it matters the most- World Cup. Remember!! we can afford to lose matches now. But in world cup one match lost may be detrimental to team's chances. It's easy for us not to see beyond senior players but there are lots of gems out there who are just wanting to be discovered. Hope we find another Tendulker or Dravid or Ganguly and I pray to God that we find three of them!! I feel it in my bones that fortunes are changing for TEAM INDIA!

  • Angel_of_sin on October 11, 2007, 9:59 GMT

    Form, fitness, passion, .. did I miss age? Yes, that's not the criteria to play cricket. People are thinking 20-20 is the real cricket just because India won the world cup. The big three are irreplacable, for the next couple of years atleast. Lets look at the promising youngsters who are to take their place. Sehwag, woefully out of form and never could reach anywhere near to Ganguly or Tendulkar form after a good stint at international level. Uttappa, does not have the technique, and probably will take a long time to replace Ganguly. Gambhir again does not have the technique and will take time to be consistent. The talent is obvious. But no one can be a Sachin Tendulkar. We can hope of another Ganguly and Dravid and we can see the talent to replace these guys. But when did Dravid and Ganguly actually were consistently part of the Indian team? When they were 23-24 years of age? Then the Gambhirs and Uttappas have a couple of years to go. Till then lets rotate the players.

  • 4theloveofthegame on October 11, 2007, 9:57 GMT

    India rely heavily on their top three players, alot of shuffling keeps taking place in the top order. There will be alot of sentiment if a comment like that is made.Realistically does India have talented blood to make the breakthrough in their batting line up? Opportunity would provide that, holding onto inconsistency,poor performance and hope , wont do it. Drop a player like Mathew Hayden at age 35 in 2006 , and see what happens in 2007 ? phenomenal! Age has nothing to do with it, Jayasuria is another good example. A batsmen lifespan seems longer, it is up to the individual to come back stronger and harder.

  • aphenomenon on October 11, 2007, 9:13 GMT

    Having read Sambit's column this morning as well as the other responses, I am not sure what prompts me to reply...but here goes. As the general consensus goes "who are we to comment on the Big 3" when we are not half as gifted as any one of them, I believe you would agree that we all have the right to an opinion. Before looking at the Big 3 let us look at each one of them individually, it has been proved that each one of them holds the talent as well as the blood and mind for a further couple of years (health allowing) of cricket (in both forms of the game). Applying an analogy if we had Rs100 we would not spend it all at once, so resting the Big 3 in phases and trying to make the Rs100 grow with getting younger players to learn from them will be the investment that is to be made. Dhoni, Yuvraj and Irfan are pillars for the future who need to be plastered with the likes of Raina & Uthappa. I wonder where Kaif is, he is one player I think has missed out in the whole equation.

  • sulu on October 11, 2007, 8:52 GMT

    I agree with Sambit's comments. All the three are good players, when you see there records its outstanding but when we have these kind of players why we can't win matches. When we are playing to good teams our winning percentage is 50%. If we have great players then we should be number one team in the world but we are not. So now it is the time that these three should be removed from the team. When you see sachin's record in last 2 to 3years he is getting runs so every one tells he is batting well but his runs are not winning matches for india. for example, in the last one day series against england, sachin was our best batsman and he looked like the sachin which we use to see in past but the result india lost the series. We doesn't want the players who can score runs but we want players who can win matches and this three can win matches on their days not consistently so its better that we have youngsters in our side then these three.

  • concerned_cricketer on October 11, 2007, 8:39 GMT

    I don't agree with Sambit Bal regarding the timing of thinking about replacing the big three. Is he also thinking about replacing Dhoni with India's next keeper when Dhoni's powers decline? If not, why not? Perhaps it's because it is senseless to think now about a time when Dhoni's powers decline? In exactly the same way, it's not sensible to think now about a time when India produces batsmen who perform as well as these 3. At least wait till there are 2 consecutive series when 2 of the big 3are not in the top 3 performers. Let the boys turn men producing 35 runs average in the last 5 matches played.

  • jasonduellist4life on October 11, 2007, 8:26 GMT

    i think that journalists have never played cricket themselves or thy JUST dont understand cricket because if you TRY to phase out the big 3 you will just get THE SMALL LOSING indian team which isnt what i wanna see. Everybody keeps talking about how drop them for younger people but can those younger people actually do better and that against AUSTRALIA...I think not!!!LEts face it these 3 in sachin, dravid, and ganguly make one of the strongest batting line ups in the world ever and they have been performing and then this Sambit says that Tendulkar is obviously declining which his form in england and here proves other wise-I have seen other people look like fools against high quality pace so isnt tendulkar human-gess these 3 should play till the next world cup once they all perform which they have been doing and not because they have this bad series you drop them because it is because of them that India won in England

  • RaghuramanR on October 11, 2007, 7:58 GMT

    Without getting obsessed about the personalities, I would like to know if Mr.Sambit Bal has checked of good replacements for all the three (and Laxman? and Kumble in tests?). This mad rush for 'young blood' is plainly stupid as if the seniors are preventing the 'young blood' from entering the team. Faster/younger hands/feet does not mean a quicker/thinking/intelligent head which is the need of the hour rather than younger birth certificates.

  • vsriram67 on October 11, 2007, 7:53 GMT

    The saying goes that "All good things have to come to an end". It applies to the big 3 as well. Rahul Dravid clearly looks out of sorts and perhaps needs a break to clear his thoughts. The turn of events over the last month seem to have done more harm than good to him. It is time to blood guys like S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina etc. In addition, Sehwag deserved a look in after his perforance in T20. The areas that are badly affected are the running between the wickets and fielding two critical components of the game. Like Kapil Dev, Vengsarkar, Srikkanth quit cricket over a decade ago these guys will also have to face the crude reality of quitting the game sooner or later. Better do it on their own terms rather than being told to go.

  • Tali on October 11, 2007, 7:43 GMT

    Actually, I think the 3 should retire. 1. They are all above 34; so for the next WC they will be 38....not many has played that late. Its better to give youngsters change to prove mettle and get valuable experience. 2. With the 20-20 WC we got few confident youngsters; time is ripe to take the risk

    I think the big 3 can play in Test for another 1-1.5 years and call retirement in ODI by end of the Aussie series.

  • abhi_the_best on October 11, 2007, 6:35 GMT

    well for indian cricket fan-who wants to see india winning every time- I must say that its time to drop dravid. but for me dravid is a gem India has produced. he along with the other two senior player is fit to play in WC-2011. there no reason we should doubt this as for example JAYASURIA is still playing at the age of 37 and goin pretty good. what we need to look is that we must give oppurtunity to young players against the weaker oppositions and less important matches, so that the senior players also get some rest. but i am surprised to hear dilip vengsarkar comments- sir, i have one question for u-who is the player in your view to replace any of the three senior and play half to the potential they play. i can bet that even if another yuvraj is sitting in dressing room, he can't replace them either.

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on October 11, 2007, 4:41 GMT

    I must say that I don't agree with many of Sambit's comments. Sachin's 'obvious decline' is certainly not evident in his recent statistics (as noted in the column on the eve of his 400th ODI), and this comment seems to be a cheap attempt at blackening the reputation of one of the world's greatest batsmen. I see no reason why all three cannot play on until the 2011 World Cup, as they are only 34 or 35, provided that their form continues to be of the same high standard. It seems that age is once again viewed as a barrier to selection, which is very disappointing as age has one thing that youth lacks- experience, and phasing out the three before their time is going to create huge problems in the dressing room in terms of the quality of batting and the advice they have to offer to the captain, which Dhoni has indeed noted as indispensible. And apart from Ganguly, their fielding is certainly not that bad, as shown by the number of catches taken by Dravid and Sachin. The Big 3 must remain.

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  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on October 11, 2007, 4:41 GMT

    I must say that I don't agree with many of Sambit's comments. Sachin's 'obvious decline' is certainly not evident in his recent statistics (as noted in the column on the eve of his 400th ODI), and this comment seems to be a cheap attempt at blackening the reputation of one of the world's greatest batsmen. I see no reason why all three cannot play on until the 2011 World Cup, as they are only 34 or 35, provided that their form continues to be of the same high standard. It seems that age is once again viewed as a barrier to selection, which is very disappointing as age has one thing that youth lacks- experience, and phasing out the three before their time is going to create huge problems in the dressing room in terms of the quality of batting and the advice they have to offer to the captain, which Dhoni has indeed noted as indispensible. And apart from Ganguly, their fielding is certainly not that bad, as shown by the number of catches taken by Dravid and Sachin. The Big 3 must remain.

  • abhi_the_best on October 11, 2007, 6:35 GMT

    well for indian cricket fan-who wants to see india winning every time- I must say that its time to drop dravid. but for me dravid is a gem India has produced. he along with the other two senior player is fit to play in WC-2011. there no reason we should doubt this as for example JAYASURIA is still playing at the age of 37 and goin pretty good. what we need to look is that we must give oppurtunity to young players against the weaker oppositions and less important matches, so that the senior players also get some rest. but i am surprised to hear dilip vengsarkar comments- sir, i have one question for u-who is the player in your view to replace any of the three senior and play half to the potential they play. i can bet that even if another yuvraj is sitting in dressing room, he can't replace them either.

  • Tali on October 11, 2007, 7:43 GMT

    Actually, I think the 3 should retire. 1. They are all above 34; so for the next WC they will be 38....not many has played that late. Its better to give youngsters change to prove mettle and get valuable experience. 2. With the 20-20 WC we got few confident youngsters; time is ripe to take the risk

    I think the big 3 can play in Test for another 1-1.5 years and call retirement in ODI by end of the Aussie series.

  • vsriram67 on October 11, 2007, 7:53 GMT

    The saying goes that "All good things have to come to an end". It applies to the big 3 as well. Rahul Dravid clearly looks out of sorts and perhaps needs a break to clear his thoughts. The turn of events over the last month seem to have done more harm than good to him. It is time to blood guys like S Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina etc. In addition, Sehwag deserved a look in after his perforance in T20. The areas that are badly affected are the running between the wickets and fielding two critical components of the game. Like Kapil Dev, Vengsarkar, Srikkanth quit cricket over a decade ago these guys will also have to face the crude reality of quitting the game sooner or later. Better do it on their own terms rather than being told to go.

  • RaghuramanR on October 11, 2007, 7:58 GMT

    Without getting obsessed about the personalities, I would like to know if Mr.Sambit Bal has checked of good replacements for all the three (and Laxman? and Kumble in tests?). This mad rush for 'young blood' is plainly stupid as if the seniors are preventing the 'young blood' from entering the team. Faster/younger hands/feet does not mean a quicker/thinking/intelligent head which is the need of the hour rather than younger birth certificates.

  • jasonduellist4life on October 11, 2007, 8:26 GMT

    i think that journalists have never played cricket themselves or thy JUST dont understand cricket because if you TRY to phase out the big 3 you will just get THE SMALL LOSING indian team which isnt what i wanna see. Everybody keeps talking about how drop them for younger people but can those younger people actually do better and that against AUSTRALIA...I think not!!!LEts face it these 3 in sachin, dravid, and ganguly make one of the strongest batting line ups in the world ever and they have been performing and then this Sambit says that Tendulkar is obviously declining which his form in england and here proves other wise-I have seen other people look like fools against high quality pace so isnt tendulkar human-gess these 3 should play till the next world cup once they all perform which they have been doing and not because they have this bad series you drop them because it is because of them that India won in England

  • concerned_cricketer on October 11, 2007, 8:39 GMT

    I don't agree with Sambit Bal regarding the timing of thinking about replacing the big three. Is he also thinking about replacing Dhoni with India's next keeper when Dhoni's powers decline? If not, why not? Perhaps it's because it is senseless to think now about a time when Dhoni's powers decline? In exactly the same way, it's not sensible to think now about a time when India produces batsmen who perform as well as these 3. At least wait till there are 2 consecutive series when 2 of the big 3are not in the top 3 performers. Let the boys turn men producing 35 runs average in the last 5 matches played.

  • sulu on October 11, 2007, 8:52 GMT

    I agree with Sambit's comments. All the three are good players, when you see there records its outstanding but when we have these kind of players why we can't win matches. When we are playing to good teams our winning percentage is 50%. If we have great players then we should be number one team in the world but we are not. So now it is the time that these three should be removed from the team. When you see sachin's record in last 2 to 3years he is getting runs so every one tells he is batting well but his runs are not winning matches for india. for example, in the last one day series against england, sachin was our best batsman and he looked like the sachin which we use to see in past but the result india lost the series. We doesn't want the players who can score runs but we want players who can win matches and this three can win matches on their days not consistently so its better that we have youngsters in our side then these three.

  • aphenomenon on October 11, 2007, 9:13 GMT

    Having read Sambit's column this morning as well as the other responses, I am not sure what prompts me to reply...but here goes. As the general consensus goes "who are we to comment on the Big 3" when we are not half as gifted as any one of them, I believe you would agree that we all have the right to an opinion. Before looking at the Big 3 let us look at each one of them individually, it has been proved that each one of them holds the talent as well as the blood and mind for a further couple of years (health allowing) of cricket (in both forms of the game). Applying an analogy if we had Rs100 we would not spend it all at once, so resting the Big 3 in phases and trying to make the Rs100 grow with getting younger players to learn from them will be the investment that is to be made. Dhoni, Yuvraj and Irfan are pillars for the future who need to be plastered with the likes of Raina & Uthappa. I wonder where Kaif is, he is one player I think has missed out in the whole equation.

  • 4theloveofthegame on October 11, 2007, 9:57 GMT

    India rely heavily on their top three players, alot of shuffling keeps taking place in the top order. There will be alot of sentiment if a comment like that is made.Realistically does India have talented blood to make the breakthrough in their batting line up? Opportunity would provide that, holding onto inconsistency,poor performance and hope , wont do it. Drop a player like Mathew Hayden at age 35 in 2006 , and see what happens in 2007 ? phenomenal! Age has nothing to do with it, Jayasuria is another good example. A batsmen lifespan seems longer, it is up to the individual to come back stronger and harder.