Dileep Premachandran
Associate editor, ESPNcricinfo

Life in the past lane

India's decline is reflected in the stats of the big four batsmen. The team desperately needs new batting talent, but already they may have left it too late

Dileep Premachandran

August 14, 2008

Comments: 106 | Text size: A | A

Some consolation: The batting averages for Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman in the last two years are better than their career averages © AFP

After the stars of India's batting firmament made more than 2000 runs in the final four Tests he captained, Steve Waugh spoke of how they had the potential to challenge Australia's continued domination of the game. It was a brave prediction, but despite noteworthy successes in England, Pakistan and West Indies, India could never find the Carl Lewis yards to take them past Australia.

Though their encounters against the world's best made for gripping viewing, reverses at home and away over the past four years highlighted just how much still needed to be done. Indifferent home form caused considerable damage to hopes of global supremacy: Pakistan, England and South Africa all left Indian shores with a share of the spoils.

No statistic encapsulates India's "blow hot, blow cold" nature better than the fact that they haven't won back-to-back Tests since December 2005. And though they continue to push Australia in head-to-head encounters, India have been left way behind in the race to No. 2 by a South African side that has now won seven of its last eight series, managing a draw in India in 2008.

The decline has been a collective one, and the numbers for the team's leading batsmen bear that out. Not one of the famous four in the middle order averages more than 50 in the past two years; and while the figures for VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly are better than their career average, there simply hasn't been the weight of runs to put pressure on the best teams.

After picking up five Man-of-the-Match awards and inspiring some of India's greatest wins over the first six years of the millennium, Rahul Dravid averages a depressing 33 over the last 24 months. Sachin Tendulkar's form has been erratic, with some splendid innings in Australia offset by miserable failures against South Africa and Sri Lanka.

The years when India should have been pushing the envelope were beset by intrigue and controversy. Greg Chappell, who had observed first-hand the crippling effects of sudden generational change, arrived as coach and set about shaking up the old order. The idea, of building for a future when the middle order's titans wouldn't be around, was certainly right, but the manner in which it was implemented left many cold.

By the time he left, the team was treading water, and the same old faces were needed to pull off a first series win in England since 1986. For all the pleasure that Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly have given fans over the past decade and more, the fact remains that India hasn't produced a world-class Test player since Virender Sehwag announced his arrival with a fusillade of boundaries in Bloemfontein.

In an ideal world you would want the likes of Badrinath and Sharma to ease into a side where they could soak up the experience of a Tendulkar or Dravid. That's unlikely to happen now, and with Kumble also nearing journey's end, India will face a crisis of Australia-1984 proportions if the seeds of change aren't sown soon

Yuvraj Singh has three centuries against Pakistan to show for a stop-start career. He was woeful in the two Tests he played against Australia in 2007-08. Mohammad Kaif distinguished himself at times against Australia and England, but couldn't summon up the consistency or the sheer weight of runs required to push one of the weather-beaten faces from the fray. These days he's not even a contender, while Yuvraj also looks to have slipped behind the likes of Rohit Sharma in the pecking order.

Things haven't been too different with the ball either. For much of the past two years, Anil Kumble has had to plough a lone spin furrow, and the exertions are starting to show on a shoulder that has sent down over 50,000 deliveries in international cricket. There have been exciting additions to the pace attack in the new millennium, but only Zaheer Khan has managed to stick around long enough to even get close to 200 Test wickets.

Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan have come and gone like baggage on a carousel. Intermittent brilliance has gone hand in hand with injury and poor form, and India are still no closer to finding the sort of settled attack that Waugh unleashed on sides for years.

The spin impasse is even more demoralising for a country that once prided itself on an endless reservoir of talent. Since Harbhajan Singh emerged out of Kumble's shadow with his heroics against Australia in 2001, no other slow bowler has managed even 30 Test wickets. Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla have both been tried, as has the luckless Murali Kartik, and it is Hyderabad's Pragyan Ojha who is the flavour of the new season.

Men like Ojha and Chawla are still young enough to have time on their side once Kumble does call it a day at some point. You can't say that with the same certainty about the batsmen, though. The most accomplished domestic performer over the past few seasons has been Tamil Nadu's Subramaniam Badrinath, but at 27 he's in danger of becoming India's Martin Love. If not for Tendulkar's injury, there wouldn't even have been a one-day call-up for the man who appears best equipped to bat in the top four.

Sharma has immense talent and has impressed some of the game's most knowledgeable observers, but his inability to stitch together the sort of monumental scores that Laxman managed in his non-Test days is a cause for concern. Last season, he aggregated less than 200 in the Ranji Trophy, and India can only hope that he's cut from the Michael Clarke cloth in terms of being able to adapt instantly to the highest level.

Bowlers like Pragyan Ojha still have time on their side to shoulder responsibility in the spin department © AFP

In an ideal world you would want the likes of Badrinath and Sharma to ease into a side where they could soak up the experience of a Tendulkar or Dravid. That's unlikely to happen now, and with Kumble also nearing journey's end, India will face a crisis of Australia-1984 proportions if the seeds of change aren't sown in the next few months.

If the results continue to be mediocre against Australia this October, tough calls will need to be made. It would be harsh on young men like Badrinath and Sharma if they are thrown in at the deep end, but then again Dravid could tell them that you become a legend by looking Allan Donald in the eye and not backing away.

With series against England and Pakistan to follow, India need to be looking at two new faces in the line-up by the time the plane takes off for New Zealand. Sharma is at the front of the queue now, but Badrinath's seasons of perseverance could also be rewarded. And as Gautam Gambhir's return to the fold has proved, all is not lost for Yuvraj and Kaif, provided they want it badly enough.

But for Sanjay Manjrekar's poor form and Navjot Singh Sidhu's hot-headed nature, Dravid and Ganguly and the summer of '96 would never have happened. Desperate times tend to throw up unexpected heroes, and even if they don't, it's time Indian cricket stopped looking back. It will be a brave selector who brings the curtain down on careers that have done so much to raise India's cricketing profile, but as the country's newest hero, Abhinav Bindra, could tell you, success is all about clear-eyed vision and impeccable timing.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

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Posted by Mina_Anand on (August 16, 2008, 16:01 GMT)

Why do cricket'experts'write off players,at the drop of an average? Surely great players know when their time is up? If they were'timed out'to the arm-chair critic's beck and call,we would be robbed of great performances.Hayden struggled in 2005,he was 34 then-should he have been replaced,never to come back and set the 2007 WorldCup ablaze,at the ripe old age of 36? Ponting,age 34,averaged a miserable 38.28 in the recent BorderGavaskar Test Series Down Under.Should he have been sacked? Ian Chappell had charged Sachin Tendulkar to'look into the mirror'after the 2007 World Cup. Will Chappell reflect on Sachin's immense contribution to India's wins, post 2007 as well? To the 2008 CB Series,in particular? So what if the Fab Four's is a collective failure,they will collect themselves and correct the record-before they call it a day.It's high time cricket journalists pause and think, before they shoot off their copy.

It's high time, cricket journalists pause, and think, before they sho

Posted by Kunal-Talgeri on (August 16, 2008, 13:07 GMT)

Let's regard it a privilege to watch our Men of Steel rust away into the sunset. Really!? What an honour 'tis...

Come to think of it, when South Africa returned to international cricket in 1991, they might have been justified to consider Graeme Pollock, Mike Procter and Barry Richards in the side. (After all, class is permanent, right!?) The selection of Clive Rice wasn't really off the mark. They learned before the 1992 World Cup... as Kepler Wessels led a young side. But we must continue zealously with our playing legends.

Posted by willsuf503 on (August 16, 2008, 12:58 GMT)

I think this article has several valuable points. First it will be necessary at some stage soon to drop one of the middle order batsmen. Laxman can feel relatively secure in his place being only 32, and also the most consistent performer of late. However India have a remarkable tendency to pick young players of "promise" over proven performers. I think that India should learn from Australia, who have often picked the proven domestic performers over young talents. This was shown through the selection of Hussey and Jaques, both of whom have adapted brilliantly to test level. India should learn from their selection policies regarding Gautam Gambhir, it was not until he was 27 that he finally became competent at international level. For this reason I think that Bandrinath deserves to be picked, probably in place of Ganguly. It seems ridiculous that a man averaging 56 in first class does not get a chance at test level.

Posted by Sumu_babu on (August 16, 2008, 3:37 GMT)

I don't agree with Sharath.Komarraju. How can he say that India failed due to Dhoni? He has been working his ass off for past few years and deserves a break... The "fab four", on the other hand, had have good break but failed!!!

Posted by StJohn on (August 15, 2008, 19:02 GMT)

Actually, I still think India missed having a "fabulous five" by never giving Vinod Kambli a decent run or supporting him properly. Great player. Temperemental, maybe. Difficult, maybe. But averaging about 54 over a ridiculously short career of just 17 or so Tests, Kambli will always be a legend that could have been. Ah, but for the caprice, politicking and favouritism of selectors, particularly those in the sub-continent...

Posted by StJohn on (August 15, 2008, 18:06 GMT)

India is still a very good team but an ageing one. Laxman is almost 34, Dravid almost 36, Tendulkar 35, Ganguly 36 and Kumble almost 38. I don't put too much emphasis on the recent SL series (after all, I think India also lost last time they toured SL too) and each of these great players is still at an age where they could quite feasibly play for another 2-3 years or so (even longer for Laxman). But the basic thrust of the article must be right: 3 or 4 of these players retiring at the same time would hardly be good for the Indian team's success & development, no matter how good or bad their form prior to retirement. The Australia 1984 example is an apt one, as may be the Australia 2008 one. And you have to try to pick your team on merit, not just on past form, sentiment or reputation alone: separate reality from emotion. In saying all this, I am of course talking about Test cricket, not the endless and instantly forgotten and forgettable one-day slogathons that are so beloved in India.

Posted by ssm2407 on (August 15, 2008, 13:54 GMT)

We should stop looking at the fab four with such rose tinted fondness - the opening line of this hysterical article refers back to a series in 2003. Well Ive got news for those stuck in the past - the year is now 2008 & time waits for no man. No one should be surprised at the failing of the old guard in this series - there have been several warning signs eg. Losing a series in South Africa, after a memorable bowler-inspired win in Joburg, failing to draw the Sydney test & the capitulation of 76 all out v SA in March. The captaincy has destroyed Dravid's appetite & he is not the great player he once was. Ganguly & Laxman have had regular failures and yet are afforded extended chances that Yuvraj for one has not. It seems the selectors cannot make tough decisions - opting for the easy option of dumping Yuvraj & Sehwag in recent times, rather than hurt the feelings of the pampered foursome. It is the selectors as much as the 'muddle order' that need to look at at their positions

Posted by riverlime on (August 15, 2008, 7:26 GMT)

The greatest players should retire on a high note, and not when they are no longer useful and are about to be discarded. Tendulkar should have chosen the Australia series as his swansong, especially since he knows he has never been good against Murali. Now if his elbow acts up again, he will have another poor series to come and leave India with another Tendulkar-sized hole in the middle order. I hate to say this, but chasing the record has made him SELFISH, for the first time in his life.

Posted by Madhan_M on (August 15, 2008, 2:47 GMT)

When a century is made by the fab four the whole India hails!! But when they fail they are pushed to end of the world with all kinds of useless, unworthy and empty comments. Its understandable and acceptable if the comment comes from people who just watch cricket once in a while..but if those comments come from analysts who watch cricket and cricketers so closely,its really disappointing to hear. They are the same people who hang around for an interview behind this fab four if they hit a wonderful match saving "100".The reason was pretty evident "The Mendis Factor". We saw even Dhoni's great "Young team" failing miserably at the Asia cup final becos of "Mendis Factor". Without seeing how the rest of the world,especially " The Great Aussies" handle Mendis I dont think it is a good thing to write that these fab four has to be replaced..Who knows even "The great Don Bradman" would have failed miserably against "Mendis". To be frank this article is "Rubbish"

Posted by Sharath.Komarraju on (August 15, 2008, 2:09 GMT)

In all of this, did anyone else notice that Dhoni has escaped all criticism? One of the most important reasons why we lost the series is because our keepers could not catch, stump or bat, and yet, Dhoni, whose fatigue rather conveniently attacked him at exactly the same time as the tests and for exactly the same duration as the test series, gets off scot-free.

And of all the talk of our batting cupboard being bare, what of the wicket-keeping cupboard? Karthik had a golden chance to shut the door on Dhoni (or at least give the selectors a headache), and what does he do? Fail in the most miserable manner possible. Now we have the ridiculous situation of someone opting out of a test series "due to fatigue" and then waltzing back into the team, expecting to slot back in as if he were never away.

And amid all of this, what do we talk about? The future of the four. Forget the fielding lapses, forget the wicketkeeping blunders, forget the bowling inadequacies, and the injuries.

Posted by Prashant89 on (August 15, 2008, 1:53 GMT)

It's amazing, the fab-four have just had one poor series against Sri Lanka and you are already talking about their retirements!!!! Tendulkar and Laxman played really well against Australia last year, and before that Ganguly had scored a double century against Pakistan, the only one who has been on the decline recently is Dravid, but i am sure he will come back. Most of the times they got strats against Sri Lanka, they just couldnt convert those starts into bigger scores...laxman scores a couple of half centuries, Tendulkar looked good against mendis and Dravid seemed to be getting his touch at the end of the series....they just got out to some really good balls from mendis who they had never faced before. Lets see how the other teams perform against Murali and Mendis before you start talking about the retirement of the fab-four. Tendulkar, Laxman, Ganguly and Dravid still have a lot to give to Indian Cricket. Never count them out!!!!!!!!

Posted by vswami on (August 15, 2008, 1:41 GMT)

Up until Australia tour last winter, it made sense for the Fab Four to form the backbone of the team. It would indeed have been a fitting farewell tour, if they had managed to draw the infamous Sydney test. They would have ended their career with a victory over England in England and maybe a draw against Australia in Australia. Their legacy would have been intact. Now its not clear what their mission is apart from prolonging their careers as much as possible and milking their brand value to the last drop. The natural process of renewal of the team must begin right now .. and Dravid to me seems to be the one with least to offer. His reflexes are definitely slower and that makes it impossible for him to put away anything other than a juicy half volley. Ganguly, Tendulkar and Laxman still have the game to attack the bowling and bat on their own terms. The biggest headache is who will replace Kumble.

Posted by abhi000007 on (August 15, 2008, 1:30 GMT)

If Dravid knows he cant perform, he will go. He has done that time and again.

I really don't understand why this senior junior debate starts every time India loses a match ? Who dropped Kumbles catches ? Was our fielding pathetic because of seniors ? Hayden, Hussey, Murali everyone is still playing. The question that needs to be asked is are there players who are in better form than the present set of players ? If so, drop the present set, but don't do that because they are seniors.

It was precisely mentality like this article which led to the dark days of Indian cricket under Greg Chappell. According to him, none of the seniors were good enough to play cricket again. Then how did it happen that he left and Sachin and Sourav started to play so well ? Every test match is important, and you want to play your best players in that match, senior or junior. We are not preparing a team for the world cup here.

Posted by Brendanvio on (August 14, 2008, 23:22 GMT)

RE: Badrinath. His age should never come into the equation. Phil Jaques was 28 when named Justin Langer's full time replacement. Hussey was 30 when he launched his stellar test career and Brad HOdge was around the same age as well.

Kumble is really looking past his prime. He should be dropped for a young spinner or another quick, and Dhoni handed the reigns.

Posted by MrTRUTH on (August 14, 2008, 22:47 GMT)

In ODI, when Ganguly left we had some new talents come in. I think India has suffered a lot because of carrying the weight of these players. Dude, if a player doesn't perform two seasons kick him out. If you want a team like Australia, that is what you do. I dont care if the name is Tendulkar or Dravid. Just kick them out. Our problem is we want to keep players to have the world record. Seriously, on papers our team is great. But when it comes to a real team we don't do much. And stop looking at ODI performance and compare it with Test. Then stop looking at performance against weak team. Stop focusing on averages in Subcontinent. Sub-continent is batsman friendly. Look at English First class, do we more than an ave of 50, very rare. As English first class pitch are not as batmans friendly. If you want to play for records, you will loose more. Look at Inzaman, Bevan, real match winner, not record markers. You can play weak teams and make records. Kick 'em out, Tendulkar first

Posted by anik on (August 14, 2008, 22:21 GMT)

why should the fab 4 retire? They have all served their country for many years. Everyone has their bad days in life. On top of that, everyone should know that class is permanent and form is temporary. So lets just forget this series and call it a bad dream, because I am very sure that the fab five (including kumble)will fight back and win the forthcoming series. just before i go i would also like to add that the fab five have been in this similar situation many times in their career, but they always came back fighting. Therefore i urge all their critics to drop the guns that are currently being pointed at these great players.

Posted by vakkaraju on (August 14, 2008, 22:01 GMT)

While we argue about the "Fab Four" and Kumble,and their utility in the team, we should also take a very dispassionate look at the overall picture. Are they in a position to consistently score, get wickets and above all hold catches and stop runs. The answer is "Not Really". They have their flashes of brilliance-- True. But are they physically able to perform day in day out. They were clearly jaded and not ready during the recent series. Professional sport is also a 8 hrs./a day job. Gym, sprints, bowling, batting and fielding should be daily routine. Just to say X, Y Z are playing at 40, and I am just 34 is very presumptive since clearly None of the Fab Four+ 1 are as fit as Jayasuriya.

Posted by shbt158 on (August 14, 2008, 21:49 GMT)

Yes the fab five are undoubtedly collectively declining - but whoerver replaces them is going to find the going very difficult. They have given their all for Indian cricket, and still have a lot left to give I think. They've earned a respectful transition.

Laxman I think still has a good two years at least left in him, he will I think relish the extra responsibility of batting higher up the order.Ideally you'd think one more out of Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly would keep him company for 2 yrs, and all three for the series against Aus and England. On the evidence of the Aus series you'd have to think that Tendulkar can certainly cut it at test level for 2 yrs - but he needs to stay injury free. His body's clearly taken a beating over the last ~19 yrs, maybe time for him (liek jayasuriya) to focus on one form of the game.

This series I think India missed an in-form Kumble, our best placed bowler by far to take advantage of the review system. Keep the faith for one more series people!

Posted by ndogcricfan on (August 14, 2008, 21:07 GMT)

The Fab Four have pulled India out of some dire situations in the past, and they all have more cricket in one finger than half of the youngsters on the bench do in their entire bodies.

That being said, it's time they retired. It's not just recently that Dravid & Co have shown signs of flagging. The 2007 final in England for the Natwest Cup was embarrassing; Dravid was 1st ball out, Tendulkar was a ball latter, and Ganguly fell to a lousy delivery. After that, against Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, and now Sri Lanka, they haven't managed to do anything much, barring Laxman's Test heroics and Tendulkar in the CB finals. Does anyone else remember the second test vs SA, and our miserable batting 1st innings?

For the sake of their careers, which have been illustrious, the Fab Four (plus Kumble) should throw the towel in while they still are appreciated somewhat, instead of leaving when they have failed again and are getting trashed left, right, and center. We have young talent ready.

Posted by tanveers on (August 14, 2008, 21:07 GMT)

I think the fab four needs to be phased out slowly, not all of a sudden. Problem with Pakistan and Indian cricket team is that, once you become a star/icon you don't leave until your hair turns gray. Literally, one has to force the superstar to retire. This mentality has to change. The cricketers need to play for their countries not for their personal records.

Posted by YoBro on (August 14, 2008, 21:06 GMT)

All this is bologna. Its plain and simple for me. He needs to be rested. SRT's played a lot of cricket over the years and has achieved a lot of success. He needs to quit ODI's asap and pick his tours carefully. Ideally, he'd do very well on fast bouncy tracks - it's just the way he plays. If he does that he can play for another 3-4 years. If not, we're looking at 1-2 years max.

Posted by kapilfan on (August 14, 2008, 20:21 GMT)

The fab four have been remarkable over the last 10 years. This is one of the few that they have failed more or less collectively. It is more to do with some unplayable bowling rather than anything else. ( remember the NZ series in 2002/2003?). India has been far more consistent winning Test matches abroad over the last 6 years than ever in history. I agree a bit of rotation to help groom youngsters would be the way forward. But not just simply sacking them. Dravid and Ganguly got into the Indian side just by their class in 1996 and not by chance. Dilip Give me a break! Who are you going to blame for the entry of Tendulkar, Kumble, Sehwag and VVS? Dileep, Could you not have given some credit to the outstanding Srilankan bowling.

lets say dileep premachandran writes a bad article ( like this one). Does that mean he should quit writing straughtaway ? The only aspects that were good in the article were the concerns regarding lack of talented spin bowlers and frequent injuries to pacers.

Posted by div_bell_2003 on (August 14, 2008, 19:36 GMT)

There you go again ! Everybody's after Ganguly's head , familiar symptoms, only everyone is forgetting that he was brilliant in the last series India played against SA. One failure and you throw a guy out and more so even if he is Mr Sourav Ganguly. As the article correctly points out, there are no replacements to these guys in test cricket. About the most over hyped cricketer MS Dhoni, when did he ever score a good knock in test cricket ? and we can't stop showering awards on him including Rajiv Gandhi Khelratna , what a waste of an award !

Posted by Mythsmoke on (August 14, 2008, 19:36 GMT)

Its interesting how Indian cricket now choses to define itself vis-a-vis Australia...its a dangerous obesession...focusing on the next Australian series at the expense of everything that comes in between. To be # 1, you have to beat the other teams more consistently.

Posted by Kamrus on (August 14, 2008, 18:59 GMT)

The Fab five should be aptly renamed the Grand(pa) five (that includes Kumble as well). One of the reasons the Aussies stand at the top is that there selectors make the hard choices of choosing batsmen on form rather than reputation. The other being that Aussie players know when to quit towards the end of their careers unlike the Indian players. Should the team perform badly against Australia at home, some of their careers will come to an end. I can't see Laxman scoring another 281 or Kumble being a matchwinner like in the past. The other 3 would be hard pressed to get to 200 runs again in their careers. They all will have to perform very soon to expectations or some of them will get dropped within the next one year.

Posted by shamic on (August 14, 2008, 18:39 GMT)

I really agree with a change in the Indian Team,What the great four has done will never be forgotten,but why should you stick around knowning that its time to give way to young blood is something that i dont understand.

As for Luxman i will play him for atleast another year or two,Use Tendulkar for one day games and use Dravid and Ganguly in the cricket board as advices.

Take Sri Lanka as an example,Sanath Jayasuriya plays only in one day games,Marvan Attapatto,Hashan Tillekeratne,Roshan Mahanama,Asanka G,Aravinda De silva,Arjuna Ranatunga are a few to be named that could have played for a longer period in the sri lanka team,Thanks to thier exit we have new blood in the team like,Warnapura,Ajantha mendis,Chamara Kapugedera,Chamara Silva,Dilshan,Michael Vandort to name a few.

I only wish Indian cricket a bright future as we all come under one banner as asians and are proud to see our teams doing well at all times.


Posted by subhajit on (August 14, 2008, 18:27 GMT)

Impeccable observation. Back to back two generations of quality cricketers is nearly impossible to come by. It is also fact, the charm of test cricket will not be the same minus the fab four. I would say it's inevitable that India will lose places by quite a bit and the showbizz will not be the same once they are gone in any way. At least as long as the likes of Ponting and Hayden and Husseys are there. So let us enjoy the achievements of fav four for as long as they play until we really want them to go. Don't cut them out. That sounds irrational and a bit of dangerous at this point, but I am sure close to heart of most Indians. I think we can still afford to delay the desperate call for a while. At least in Test. I don't want to lose the charm of watching a fabulous test match and the dominating fab four. There is nothing like it.

Posted by davedave on (August 14, 2008, 18:18 GMT)

Dravid is not performing well for the last 2 years (apart from painful 90 against Aussies) If the fabulous four+kumble should retire then Dravid has to go first he is the only one who hasn't done anything since 2006 and Laxman must play at no 3 position. India can't afford if the seniors retire or sacked at the same time. We need a couple of young batsmen for the test matches Gambhir proved it by eliminating another young batsman jaffer. Yuvaraj with 8 years one day experience is still struggling at the test level. What happened to Kaif? Dhoni with 2 years experience is yet to play a match winnig knock who tactically avoided the recent series and I am really suprised by Rohit's inclusion who is still inconsistent in one day games then which youngsters will replace their seniors. Last year sehwag didn't play well he was taken out but his comeback was fantastic and Ganguly's comeback is even better (barring the recent series). Our board should do the same for both Dravid and Sachin.

Posted by shazzy on (August 14, 2008, 16:48 GMT)

Everybody is talking about the fab4,what about Anil Kumble?He is out of form and hasn't taken too many wickets in the idea cup against India.I think they should leave him out for 2 or 3 matches and give new faces like Pragyan Ojha and Piyush Chawla to play.They should male Harbhajan Singh the spear head of the spin division!

Posted by tbc1 on (August 14, 2008, 16:44 GMT)

A salutary note, hopefully, concerning Badrinath's age; for many western test countries, 27 would not be considered excessively late to begin an international career. Hussey, statistcally amongst the finest batsmen in the world, was not selected for Australia until he was over 30, demonstrating that a sustained first class career, and more advanced age, prior to international cricket, can be of benefit. In any case, even if Badrinath is too old to enjoy a career analagous to Tendulkar, Dravid or others, he would still provide an reliable source of runs throughout a period in which younger players were introduced, numbing thus the pain of the inevitable transition.

Posted by UmpSD on (August 14, 2008, 16:37 GMT)

I really don't think you should right them (collectively) off so soon... We don't have the required bench strength to afford that just yet... let me know as soon as you can find 4 people who can replace the the Fab 4 at the same time. If I remember correctly (which i do), we lost the Asia Cup 2008 finals despite none of the Fab 4 playing... moreover, Sachin (practically single-handed) won us the CB ODI series (beating the world No.1 team 2-0). Boy are you going to be sorry if Sachin, Dravid, Saurav, and Laxman all decide to retire together tomorrow (God forbid) - that will be the end of (competitive) indian cricket.

Posted by Gaadi on (August 14, 2008, 16:04 GMT)

It is not surprising that BCCI's talent cupboard is bare.

1) A succession planning exercise should have been in place for the Fab 4 at least 2 years ago. 2) Unnecessary focus on T20 event organisation. BCCI always have wrong priorities. 3) No focus on Ranji / Duleep cricket resulting slow erosion of Test Cricket talent. How T20 IPL / Champions League with 4/11 international stars in the team can be called 'domestic tournaments' beggars belief.

Posted by Carnage84 on (August 14, 2008, 15:51 GMT)

Well like someone mentioned in their posts, criticism always comes with failure. When our team succeeds there too much praise, love and affection and on the other hand when we lose a tournament its all about who has to retire and who has to be dropped. I don't think we are being intelligent cricket fans here. Sachin Tendulkar never said that he will be scoring hundreds all throughout his life. Even machines tend to wear and tear and its efficiency goes down, the same is with the human body! I would say support our players rather bring out stats and figures indicating its time for them to retire!- An Ardent Cricket Fan

Posted by DAN22 on (August 14, 2008, 15:49 GMT)

Lets talk about the Fab 4 retiring after we see the GREAT youngsters perform against Mendis and Murali in the even-more batsman-friendly ODI's.

How much is Ponting averaging in the last 1 year? What happened to Bradmanesque Kallis in England? Why dont all the Mid-30 guys (with exception of Hayden and Hussey) retire at the same time and join ICL and give BCCI a run for its money.

Face it guys...Sport is entertainment and I would still rather watch Tendlya than Badrinath. And even today if you had to choose between Dravid and Rohit/Yuvi to bat for your life...who would it be?

Posted by Rahul_crick_talk on (August 14, 2008, 15:42 GMT)

Adam Gilchrist is a pretty amazing guy. On the basis of a performance in a single test match in the Ind-Aus test series earlier this year he decided to hang up his boots. He knew there were performances left in him, perhaps even scintillating ones; he left because he knew that he would no longer be a regular factor in Australia's victories. This may be the case for Tendulkar or Ganguly, but it even so, it may not be. I just thought it would be an interesting point to raise.

Posted by vjkins on (August 14, 2008, 15:38 GMT)

The Fab Four have been an integral part of the Indian batting line-up but it is now time to look ahead and plan for the team's future. India should consciously opt for not more than two of the Fab Four in any test match and utilize other two batting slots to groom youngsters. Those two (from the Fab Four) can be selected based on form, playing conditions, opposition bowling line up, etc.

Posted by vinchester on (August 14, 2008, 15:03 GMT)

Why we are facing this problem today is because we have not built up an adequate bench strength. For far toolong, we have played the fab 4 & kumble, continuously. we should have rested each of them by turns & given the vacant slots to newcomers, instead of just taking them on tours & making them have vacations there. by this method these fringe players would have got the adequate experience to step into the side & also not got disillusioned. There is also the danger of the latter being completely lost to BCCI by joining ICL . It is still not too late for the selectors to rethink their strategy. otherwise we will not come out of the quicksand we are in now.

Posted by Jose on (August 14, 2008, 15:03 GMT)

Well written article. Many hardcore fans of Fab-4 are not able to digest the fact that their idols have to be bid farewell. "Mendis the Menace" created fear in all Ageing and young players alike (with exception to Sehwag). There is a possibility that atleast 1 or 2 of Fab-4 will perform in the next test series with Australia (No Mendis factor). The same journalists and hardcore fans will say that the Fab-4 should be retained for some more time. (As long as Kumble is there, Fab-4 positions are safe). Worst thing is they are not even rotating middle order with youngsters. They should have done in the final test with SL by bringing Rohit in place of Ganguly or Dravid. Ultimately Indian cricket's future is at risk.

Posted by Sekhar_S on (August 14, 2008, 14:52 GMT)

Critics,who advocate retirement for the senior Indian players,are out in the open.Where do people like Dileep disappear when India wins a tournament? If you say that the quality of the team has declined because of four of its players,it means that you believe cricket is played by 4 men.For your information,there are seven more.Analyse their performance too before coming to ridiculous conclusions like immediate retirement.

Posted by King_Viv on (August 14, 2008, 14:40 GMT)

The Fab 4 have given us more than a decade of happiness, however, like everything else, all good things come to an end. Australia ruthlessly dropped Mark Waugh and SA have dropped Gibbs when both could have continued to average around the 40 mark. Similarly, it is time to drop Dravid as he hasn't contributed for 12 months now. We can't keep looking back at his match winning contributions as it is now about the future. I think Ganguly and VVS have important contributions to make against Australia but if they don't perform, India must experiment with e.g. Rohit, Badrinath, Tiwary etc. against England. Tendulkar had an amazing 2007 and 2 fanstastic centuries against the Aussies in January so I believe he is still one the top batsmen in the country despite the fact he is not the player he was 5 years ago.

Posted by vision_beyond_view on (August 14, 2008, 14:29 GMT)

Its amazing ....... again the same author and again criticizing the same team. May be Sri Lankan are trying to replicate our technique of demoralizing the opposition by writing garbage about them. Everyone tries to copy everywhere the Australian tactics as we are the only one who are not only consistent but far above to others standard. Also amazingly this author guy is associate editor of cricinfo, they didn't found anyone better. I do not know about the Fab 4 or anything like that but definitely Indians have got gem by the name of sachin tendulkar and laxman. These disabled island people do not understand that there saviors in cricket are also old guys( sanath and murali). Sri Lankans are lucky to have Sanath Jayasuriya as he is only one good player by australian standards rest all are like pack of disabled jokers. May be these players(dravid, sachin, laxman) didn't get off this time but atleast they tried naturally and not because of some deformity. May god help you.

Posted by AsherCA on (August 14, 2008, 14:22 GMT)

None of the 4 was able to take charge of Ajantha Mendis & Murali in 6 attempts during the current series. Not discounting any of their great deeds in the past - they are all at a stage when they should consider retirement. As a final parting present to Indian cricket, they now have the opportunity to identify the next generation of Indian batsmen & get them ready for world cricket. They could take turns at staying out of the 11 to make way for 1 / 2 youngsters who could gain from their experience OR be greedy & stay on, batting India to defeats as they did in Sri Lanka recently.

Posted by Dreamweaver on (August 14, 2008, 14:10 GMT)

I agree with Dilips contention.It is time for the magnificent 4 to leave before ridicule sets in..when it is still why and not why not? If I were in the selectors place, I would put Dravid and Ganguly at Peace and tell them to choose one test in India to say good bye...and do it well before. Sachin too, as soon as he gets past Lara's record should ease off from Tests and play only ODIs. Also before 2009 ends ... maybe till 2011, maybe not.Laxman? Maybe a year more too.

Who do I see being tried out? Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, and with a lump in my throat, just for his incredible talent, Yuvi.

Tiwary and Raina bring up the rear of this new world order.

The fab 4 have done their time. It is time for a dignified farewell before sport shows its cruel face...

Posted by VenkatShankar on (August 14, 2008, 13:30 GMT)

I really wonder the need to critisize VVS Laxman when the other 3 of fab 4 failed. Out of six innings, he averaged more than 35.

Everytime, other 3 does mistake, VVS is also included.

Posted by nesevijay on (August 14, 2008, 13:02 GMT)

An excellent article about the desperate state of Indian cricket. It is too late to select a fresh squad to face international test cricket challenges. But always "better late than never". There are many talented young players longing for a spot in the Indian squad. It is very strange why the same old team is retained for all test matches. If experience is stated as a factor for victory, it is not true since it is not reflected in the results. When are we goind to take some brave steps to cut the dependancy on experience. The selectors and skipper should not under-estimate the waiting young talent without enough opportunities given to them. The selectors should observe how other teams like Australia are constantly proving with both youth and experience. The legends should pave way for the "to-be-legends". This will benefit the team as a whole in the long run. Short-term Victory should never be considered as a criteria for team selection. "Think on the long run and take good decisions".

Posted by davedave on (August 14, 2008, 13:00 GMT)

Of course, we need youngsters no doubt. Realistically players like Yuvaraj a match winner in one day games since 2000 is still struggling to get his place at test level. What happened to Kaif? He is performing well at the domestic level but no place one day games. Then our one day captain Dhoni who has been in the test squad for the last years (although he avoided the recent test series) is yet to play crucial role in test matches. Fair amount of chances have been given to Karthik and Jaffer who performs only in the subcontinent particularly at home.

The fabulous four have one off series but it doesn't mean that they should retire now Ganguly since his comeback played extremely well in five series out of six, Sachin failed in one series. Dravid the wall has been below par for the last 2 years although he scored a 90 in Australia it was just struggling runs. India can't afford the fabulous four to retire at the same time. I think Laxman should replace Dravid for the one down. I

Posted by Raki99 on (August 14, 2008, 12:26 GMT)

It is time to phase out the fab four, i think the first in line should be sourav then dravid then sachin and then Laxman. The author rightly said that the new crop dosen't have the talent to replace this four but harsh steps needs to be taken, Before its really too late. The same thing needs to be done for kumble the time has come for him to retire may be a series or two left. The Biggest problem with the subcontinent cricketets is that they are so much money minded they don't know when to retire like the australians or the english man. They needed to be kicked out and this is the bigest problem. Hope we get some new blood in the team rather soon. we might lose some in the beggning but it would be good for team india in a long run.

Posted by Caviar on (August 14, 2008, 11:54 GMT)

Fab 4 -- They are still more capable than the new so called stars ! Dhoni- he is a good one day & T20 player. Still to see him perform in tests outside the country/subcontinent. We have made him far bigger than he actually is. Same goes for yuvraj and other new lot. Only Sehwag on his day can take on any bowler and under any condition. But he needs tremendous luck to go with it. The new players of today ( Dhoni & Yuvraj included ) could have never handled bowlers such as, Wasim/Waqar/Mcgrath/Donald/Walsh/Amdrose etc etc. And Sachin has scored most of his centuries against them when they were in their prime. Let Dhonis & yuvrajs perform consistently over the years ( both at home and abroad ) then we can count them as good players.

Sachin is still by far the BEST batsman india presently has and he can play for another 2 years more atleast. ganguly is the only weak link. Dravid/Laxman have a lot to contribute in tests. Sachin in both tests & One dayers.

Posted by SehwagShow on (August 14, 2008, 11:44 GMT)

Nata - you wanted an explanation..and the explanation is that you have not read the sentence properly. "the fact remains that India hasn't produced a world-class Test player since Virender Sehwag announced his arrival with a fusillade of boundaries in Bloemfontein." means no world class players SINCE Sehwags arrival..Sehwag made his Test debut in 2001, your two suggestions Tendulkar and Dravid were clearly not produced by India since Sehwag arrived, they made their respective debuts in 1989 and 1996!!

Posted by joshreid on (August 14, 2008, 11:37 GMT)

Great article. Its my observation that Laxman must bat number 3. Twice in that dismal series was he left stranded and looked by far the most comfortable batting. He batted at 3 in Australia and succeeded there too.

Its quite a quandry the beloved Indian's are facing..... That top four are all magnificent players, I would hate to be the bloke who had to tell Dravid, one of what 3 players to have 10000 test & ODI runs (?) that he is dropped to make way for youth, but perhaps that is needed.

These things have a way of working themselves out, Australia faced the loss of McGrath and Warne in quick succession and bounced back. True champions step in to fill voids, and noone can deny the ability of the top 20 Indian cricketers.

Posted by Sachindian01 on (August 14, 2008, 11:16 GMT)

Imagine Gavaskar playing till now, Srikant opening the batting and Kapil opening the bowling attack. We cant do that. Same is the case with the FAB-4 a day will come they will have to leave. Even Tendulkar has grown under the legends like Gavaskar and Kapil. The FAB4 have to take initiative to guide new faces so that they mature and give them chance to show their ability. Its time now for the next generation to enter and start a new era keeping FAB 4 era alive in their performance.

Posted by Flash_Gordon on (August 14, 2008, 10:58 GMT)

What is with you Dileep Premchandran? Why do you, when in one series, due to whatever reasons, may it be injury or bad form, the most deadly and most envied big four of the cricket world does not click, huge criticism comes over them. I agree age is going up so is everyone's. What about Mathew Hayden? Mike Hussey/ Ponting is over 30, Jayasurya and Murali is too and others who have played for longer period after 35. The technique and the knowledge of the game is more important. What Dhoni just told to media is exactly what it counts, the suggestions he gives and his name in the line up boosts the confidence to others. If Ishant Sharma's injury was not there, who knows the chase of 122 in the final test would have been tricky. Then it would be a different story?

I am of the opinion, that you cannot discount any one of them. It is only that the big four are feared by all, that all bowlers have specifically practiced watching hundreds of videos to try and get them out. Still there are

Posted by Nata on (August 14, 2008, 10:46 GMT)

I think too much is being made out of one failure. I do not on what yardsticks author makes a comment like this.

"For all the pleasure that Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly have given fans over the past decade and more, the fact remains that India hasn't produced a world-class Test player since Virender Sehwag announced his arrival with a fusillade of boundaries in Bloemfontein."

Comments fit Laxman and Ganguly, but how on earth you mean Tendulkar and Dravid aren't world class test players? please explain.

Posted by cricket_wins on (August 14, 2008, 10:45 GMT)

Great points, there. And some wonderful comments on this thread from other cricket lovers.

The biggest problem with Indian cricket will be "Endless boardroom discussions", "We contemplated dropping some senior cricketers", "We did consider some new talent, but they were unlucky to have lost out" yet all of this followed by absolutely no action at all. Purely a sad state of administrative affairs in Indian cricket. I am glad that at least the Press is doing something about it by expressing these points regularly.

Lets hope something comes through - I definitely call for a phasing out of seniors, and we badly need it. Even if they were performing, it is warranted. We cannot cry from the roof-top that The fab-4 have a great record when they would be 40+.

Posted by dhiraj113 on (August 14, 2008, 10:30 GMT)

After the debacle in the Asia Cup final, everybody were talking about how our inexperienced one day batsman ( who in the opinion of the selectors were less capable of playing spain) couldn't tackle the spin of mendis, murali and were expecting the fab four to solve their mystery. But as things panned its more than evident that these "FAB FOUR" ( or should I say that's a misnomer) failed more miserable than their one-day counterparts. Only Sehwag, Gambhir players scored runs of any use in the series. Laxman's runs were few and scattered and were more useful to save him for the next series rather than any other purpose. Dravid, who by any stretched is not naturally gifted, tried his best but it looks thats by no means enough. He should be given another chance as he is the only other batsman after sachin who can claim to be able to play quality swing n pace. Due to constraint of space I will complete this in the next comment.

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (August 14, 2008, 10:29 GMT)

Guys, it's a simple thing. What is the use of the fab4 if they are not imparting their knowledge and experience to the next gen? and how does that happen if the young guys are not playing along with them? Which means there should have been a plan that a few younger players play along the side of these great guys for a few seasons - which means one of the fab4 had to be sit out to give the youngsters a chance to mingle with greats and find their feet.

Without any doubt 'there is no plan in sight' that is close to this by any means. It is the selectors fault that they haven't planned for a smooth transition and our bench strength is not as good as Australia's to withstand the sudden retirement of Langer, Martyn, McGrath and Warne. Had that happened to India - even Bangladesh would be looking forward to their test series against India.

Posted by smk2652468 on (August 14, 2008, 10:22 GMT)

Good article. I am a pakistan cricket fan, but like reading articles by good columnists. Perhaps you should teach osman s. how to stick to a topic in his articles.

Posted by mshekar on (August 14, 2008, 10:17 GMT)

Good Article Dileep, The key is to talk to them and give them the respect they deserve and tell them about phasing them out. They will surely understand, instead of humiliating them like this. Couple of points as to why this needs to be done 1. Whatever adulation Indian cricket is getting is beacuse of the contribution of these gaints. Its not a coincidence that we have currently the best away record in Indian Cricket History between 2000-2008 when these 5 players have been in peak form. We have successfully shed the 'Poor Traveller' Tag. 2. Next year we visit New Zealand. Can anybody please tell me on a Cold summer day in Dunedin or Napier put into bat on a fresh seeming wicket which of our youngster can survive. Do they have the technique to play swing bowling or the patience to grind the opposition out. they all can score 20-30 runs at a 100 strike rate which is of no use in test Cricket. Its good talking about replacing them, but where are the candidates in this 20-20 era

Posted by Vishalj.me on (August 14, 2008, 10:11 GMT)

With the kind of form he has shown for last two years, Dravid should be the first to retire. Kumble's performance in the recent series was nothing better than Sachin's or Sourav's. He took only 8 wickets in 3 matches, 5 were of tail-enders. His bowling performance in England was not up to the mark.

Posted by crap_talk on (August 14, 2008, 10:01 GMT)

i think the article makes a good point about the middle order stalwarts but in the recent Sri Lanka series mendis just fot the better of them thats all. i mean how often do you see a bowler like him. i thought during the first test first inning the way he bowled dravid just struck fear into the hearts of the allready circumspect indian batsmen except sehwag, he is just from another planet, he just thinks so differently from the rest of them. i would be very curious to see how the other teams handle him and i dont have great expectations. With experience and murli on his side he is only gonna get better.

Posted by Ganapati9 on (August 14, 2008, 9:46 GMT)

I agree with BangaloreKid.However the time to start is now.I believe the count down should be as follows 1)Kumble 2)Sachin 3)Ganguly 4)Dravid 5)Laxman.Dravid and Laxman showed some fight in Sri Lanka.Others did not.The BCCI is consistently ignoring Venu Gopal Rao and Manoj Tiwari.They should be given more chances rather than Kaif and the over rated Yuvraj.BCCI should stop treating the ICL players as untouchables and end their apartheid.We have some very good players with ICL.After all they are Indians .Are they not?

Posted by manikolbe on (August 14, 2008, 9:37 GMT)

It is not that the fab 4 do not perform. They may come and play another awsome series. it is all about thinking for future. At some stage sachin, dravid and ganguly has to retire. That may be after 18 months. But then India will be left in a situation same like australia last year with a bunch of inexperianced players. You need to groom test players! and it takes atleast a year or two before they get confortable at test level. So I think we should drop one senier player at a time and take a new lad in. Say drop Dravid for next series and bring in badrinath. Then next year drop Ganguly and bring in rohit sharma. Sachin may still play for another 2 or 3 years and he can help the new lads to settle down.

Posted by gomzee6 on (August 14, 2008, 9:36 GMT)

Valid point, India has been winning abroad and been challenging Australia in head-head encounters but there is absolutely no consistency. You challenge Australia in their backyard, come back and lose to a Pakistan/SA/Sri Lanka. Even while we beat England abroad it was a highly unsettled English bowling attack with no Flintoff/Harmison/Hoggard. One cant always blame Chappell for the insecurity of fab 4 its ages since he left and India were performing better without any coach!!! It's time the fab four especially Dravid & Tendulkar do some justice to the mountain of runs they scored and show the world class is permanent...at present they are so muddled...u wonder if they are playing in the nets. A batsman like Badrinath even is he's 27 shud be given 1st preference..for the sheer weight of experience as a batsman/captain/and the numerous 'A' tours abroad. take Hussey's example...the guy makes his debut at the age of 30 and u wonder in awe what he cud've achieved if he was blooded earlier.

Posted by Mordred on (August 14, 2008, 9:23 GMT)

It's an interesting time for world cricket, when the "glamour boys" pave way for an unproven second string side of what is currently the financial powerhouse of ICC. In the absence of the "Not-so-Fab-Now Four" a team like Sri Lanka with Sangakkara, Mahela, Mendis & Murali seems far more mouth-watering a prospect. Wonder how hard these changes that people are clamouring for, will hit the BCCI's ( & India's) standing in world cricket, not to mention television ratings. I'd say, the BCCI had it coming, for all the bull-headedness & public machismo they displayed. Not to mention deranged out-of-perspective cricket fans in India who take to the streets to burn effigies at the drop of a hat. Time for a reality check.

Posted by sray23 on (August 14, 2008, 9:22 GMT)

A few things: 1. A large part of why the 'Fab four' did not do as well as expected is the lack of warm-up games before the tour. With very few Indian players these days playing all forms of the game continuously the Board really should have given them a fair chance to succeed by providing at least 3 tour games. But then, will the Board ever learn? 2. Every time India do well in a certain series people tout them as the next biggest thing in world cricket, forgetting that in its 60 year cricket history India have never been a champion Test side home and away. Contrastingly, Australia have produced a consistently world beating side on average once every 25 years. Reaching the top hardly starts and ends with de-throning the 'fab four' and installing a 'new improved fab four', it will take a radical change in mindset on all levels of the system. The 'Indian' way as we know it is clearly not designed to produce consistent results.

Posted by anshu.sunny on (August 14, 2008, 9:08 GMT)

y paint such a gloomy picture..there is .a process in place ..Saurav will retire on his own after the series against Pakistan..his coming back is simply a desire to play well against all the opponents ..the series against Pakistan will complete a cycle that started in thew last Pakistan series ..he would have made his point that he was not that bad as people were trying to portray him as..he will retire..bring in Yuvaraj in his place..then Laxman will go by late 2009..bring in Rohit in his place..(he would have sufficient international exposure by then .a.la Gautam Gambhir)..then Rahul will go in 2010..we must give him a year or two..Badrinath can slowly take his place ..Badri must be given a gud run in onedayers..25 onedayers atleast ..so that he soaks up what is required at the highest level..and leave Sachin..he will go by 2011 WC and pray that u get someone even half as gud as him..people will talk of biting the bullet..but i see this thing as the correct way forward

Posted by venkattraman on (August 14, 2008, 8:55 GMT)

I am amazed that Rohit Sharma has been mentioned in the possible contenders for the Test squad. I guess Dileep forgot what Muzumdar had to say about him playing T20 cricket in Ranji trophy games. Tendulkar, the genius, made loads of runs in the recent series against the Aussies and here he finds himself being criticised again. Saurav made valuable runs against South Africa and its the same with him. One series does not bring a career to an end. But this is not new at all for people who know our media quite well.

Posted by anshu.sunny on (August 14, 2008, 8:53 GMT)

i do not find anything gud in the analysis at all..if one bad series means they are fading then one gud series should be taken as their being gud enough..though he mentions their performances in the the series in australia and india against south africa but he does not uses the same yardstick everywhere.. there failure in Srilanka against a very unorthodox bowling pair..kind of no body has played ever before.should warrant their phasing out ...but their performances against a very gud pair of sides should not been taken into consideration..can't people fail..among the Fab four only dravid hasn't been consistent ..sachin and Laxman were very gud in australia..we all saw how ganguly played against S. Africa..but as soon as they fail in one series..daggers are out..reckless comments are flying about..arrgh..u can't be superb 3 months back and fading now..after seeing so much cricket ,if Dileep comes up with this ..then I am sorry to say..not upto the mark..

Posted by harimenon on (August 14, 2008, 8:34 GMT)

I just cannot understand all these talk of retiring the fab four. Dileep Premachandran perhaps is talking from heart, but he forgot that some of the Australian players are older than our four and in fact I would dare to say SACHIN still has couple of years good cricket left in him.

In my opinion, Dileep should reserve his comments until the Australians come and go and then perhaps, he might have to eat his words because the so called failures would have been performing well.

I think the youngsters in India have not proved that they are ready to take over from our Fab 4 and in my opinion they should be there but play them occasionally because of the injuries they have suffered. I will dare to challenge Dileep in this regard and if I am proven wrong after the Australians have come and gone, then I will say it was time for them to go. I am quite disgusted with the views expressed by these so called pundits including the ungrateful fans of Indian cricket. Though I am not an Indian,

Posted by Krishna2007 on (August 14, 2008, 8:25 GMT)

Ganguly is probably the one who should leave first. However, in India against Australia, he may just perform without Shane Warne and McGrath around. That would result in his being picked for the next series and then again. These guys have been class acts and deserve to be given just one more season to perform and then go voluntarily. Meanwhile, in each test one of the four should be asked to sit it out and a Rohit Sharma or Raina should be played.

Dhoni is a parochial person and does not deserve to be captain till he grows out of this persona, which may be never. Sehwag should be asked to take over from Kumble in the next season and continue till Dhoni or someone else matures enough to take over the mantle. We should be focused on the future without insisting on results straightaway from the youngsters who replace the big four

Posted by Krishna_Sydney on (August 14, 2008, 8:24 GMT)

Dileep, You are spot on when you say India may have left it too late. However one can't really fault the selectors - I guess it is always a delicate thing for the selectors to axe superstars - ideally you'd like icons to walk away into the sunset - they deserve a glorious exit. It seems if they dont step down now, the selectors are going to have to be brutal. Rohit Sharma and Badri seem ready, Raina is good material and seems to have improved following his timeout. If Mendis can be blooded no reason why Chawla cant be a regular. We ve blooded untried players on the eve of major series - Gavaskar (WI) , Tendulkar ( Pakistan ), Vengsarkar (WI), Maninder (Pakistan) - the players now are not new to the international circuit

Posted by arunrajaram on (August 14, 2008, 8:04 GMT)

Excellent article. I'm a big fan of the fab 4, but at the same time I care about the future of indian cricket more than the individuals. Statistics for the past 24 months may look bad, but the truth is fab 4 didn't play to their best in this period. The selectors (who have made some brave decisions in the one day team) should seriously look at the future of test cricket too. The fab 4 & kumble has done wonderfully well over the last decade or two and have brought so much glory & joy to indian cricket. They deserve a better farewell. I remember Gary Kirsten, when he took over as coach was addressing a press conference. He shared his thought of phasing out seniors in the next 18 months and slowly bringing in youngsters. Badrinath & Rohit sharma should be regulars in the test squad, as they are technically more correct than others. We have the back-up but rest is in the hands of administrators. With the elections round the corner we can only have hope that good things will happen.

Posted by Royy on (August 14, 2008, 8:02 GMT)

The much-vaunted new generation of Indian cricketers are far from their Australian or South African counter-parts in terms of fielding-techniques. Indeed they run around aimlessly and at the wrong times and places with an agility more definite than the old order. But moving away from fielding, there is hardly one Indian upcoming batsman who seem to possess the skill to adapt to conditions favouring both high quality pace and spin. In this connection it will be worthwhile to recall the debuts of Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly in test cricket. Age cannot simply be a criterion for selection and there is enough evidence to prove that the dead-as-a-dodo tracks of India have managed to produce a handful of self-important young prodigies who are mediocre talents at best. S. Badrinath, in contrast, indeed looks like a notch above the rest, if the flat IPL pitches are anything to go by. But at least he looks like a level-headed young man who got the basic things going right for himself.

Posted by yakshaya on (August 14, 2008, 8:02 GMT)

Yes it is true that fab four is not performing well. Although there is ageing factor, the main reason is that other teams have bettered them. Specially in the Sri Lanka series, the Sri Lankans bowled well, fielded well and applied the pressure well. What people don't want to accept is the weakness of the Indian team. It is not the age or lack of youngsters in the side. Even Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv Patel and to some extent Gambhir and Sehwag failed to cope with the pressure and good bowling. Before retiring these players more attention has to be given to overall atitude, initial preparation, fielding and on field behaviour etc. Well done Sehwag and Gambhir, not only for attacking the opposition but for the overall attitude towards the game and thanks SL for always improving the standard of cricket.

Posted by Royy on (August 14, 2008, 7:53 GMT)

It is poignant to watch the fading away of the Fantastic 4 of Indian cricket and painful to envisage their exit. However, should an Indian fan be willing to peer into what lies in store beyond the rather undersized boundaries of T20, his mind is bound to be clouded with fear and doubts. It is one thing to inject young blood into the team for the sake of it, but it remains a totally different ball-game, as India have realised to their detriment through the initiations of the likes of R.S. Sodhi, Munaf Patel, Connor Williams, Dinesh Karthik and numerous others in the past years, to nail that youngster equipped with right technique and mentality to seamlessly integrate with the demanding international arena. It is all well to be a jumping jack on the field like Kaif and Karthik, but that doesn't fetch you many runs or wickets, if at all, some extra runs are conceded.

Posted by shashirama on (August 14, 2008, 7:40 GMT)

i think its a good analysis Dileep.However, the cupboard runs bare and there aren't many who can replace the four in the Test side. However, Sharma and Badrinath appear ready to be blooded, and a home series is the best bet, though the prospect of facing Australia might lure selectors to push the agenda backwards. Also, I am told that with the new board coming in soon, changes will, in all probability be brought beginning this year. I would phase out Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble, Dravid and Sachin - in that order. It'll be good to have Dhoni ease into Jumbo's jet-sized captaincy shoes.

Posted by Indian_DownUnder on (August 14, 2008, 7:32 GMT)

Good article. I think the time has come for a transition. Not sure if you can just drop them all but I think starting from the next series one of them should go every two to three series. For example Ganguly could go or Dravid could go with Laxman promoted to number 3 (he has excelled there) and a chance given to Rohit, Yuvraj, Kaif or Badrinath. I think the making of a test match batsmen is a process much like how Sehwag and Gambir now seem to have become. Some experienced batsmen are always required in the middle order. Dravid is really struggling in his mind. We have a great start by Gambir and Sehwag ( 5 runs per over) and then Dravid comes and its back to 2 runs per over. I think we missed a trick by not playing Sehwag for the full series in Australia.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (August 14, 2008, 7:25 GMT)

When Gavaskar made his memorable debut in West Indies in '71, he was 21 and not too well-known. Yet he went on to be the biggest star Indian cricket had known till Tendulkar came along. Saurav had failed on his maiden tour because of form and attitudinal problems. No one expected him to return. When he was selected for the tour of England in '95, many whispers were heard that he had made it because of his father's influence. Dravid was performing so badly in the county matches on that tour that no one gave him a chance of wearing India colours.But then as you say, Manjrekar's form and Sidhu's anger scripted a page in history. The Fab Four came together in concert. History maybe waiting to happen even if there is a short unsettled period for Indian cricket. If we start the process, we can bring in the stars of tomorrow in one year. Or else we can lament that there are no Sachins around for a hundred years.

Posted by DineshIyer on (August 14, 2008, 7:08 GMT)

The problem of phasing out the fab 4 is in which order to phase them out! There is no justification for keeping 2 of them when dropping the other 2. Each has positives and negatives. Ganguly cant play pace but he is good at spin. Laxman plays well only against the Aussies, Dravid is the best #3 we have ever had and is suffering from a confidence problem but he is the most selfless player as he has agreed to shift his batting position for the team. Finally Sachin, India's golden boy and my favourite batsman! I think the home series against the Aussies will be the last hurrah for the fab 4 and Kumble. If there was an order, I would say drop Laxman and Ganguly (weakest among the 4 in tests), followed by Dravid and Sachin! It really pains me to say this but its time to move forward! U cant be stuck in the past! I hope the fab four decide to jump before they are pushed!

Posted by boris6491 on (August 14, 2008, 7:07 GMT)

Its time as you have said Mr Premachandran that the youth gets the opportunity. The likes of Dravid and Ganguly are being pushed to the limit and after the recent India-SL test series, dont look in their own element let alone able to prosper for the side. India needs to take a step forward by giving their immensely talented youth the opportunity to shine. Sharma deserves a test berth and Raina should also be considered. As for the bowling perspective, Ishant Sharma is an excellent prospect but there has been nobody else able to step up particularly in the spin department. India either needs to unearth new spinners capable of performing on the big stage or developing their current spinners to that level as they are currently not there. Harbhajan may be around for a while but they need someone with the impact of Kumble. Although that maybe tough to cover for a while, it needs to be done in the long run. India have a lot of work to do to convert their potential into performance.

Posted by howizzat on (August 14, 2008, 6:57 GMT)

Our test team definitely needs a new look. After quitting captaincy Dravid looks lost in his own world. Tendulkar's elbow is not allowing him to play freely. Limited talents of Sourav cannot combat new theats and challenges. And Laxman just follows the trio. Of late he has never taken the team on his shoulders. Australian series may be the last chance for the fab-4 as we need the experience to count on. And after that the changes become mandatory. Then what are the options? Instead of searching for the new talents vacancies can be partly filled by internal accruals. Let us be bold and unorthodox. Let us bring Irfan at No.3 and Dhoni at No.4 purely as batsmen. Let us give them sufficient time in their new roles. I feel they are the best batting talents available and they can be next Tendulkar and Dravid for the future. Alternately Shikhar Dhawan can bat at No.3 and pushing Irfan to No.5. Badrinath or Laxman at No. 6 should complete the batting line up. Goswamy can be the new WK at No.7.

Posted by guptavipulv on (August 14, 2008, 6:56 GMT)

I will not go as far as that. All is not lost yet. It has to be admitted that our batsmen were at the receiving end of some very rough decisions and our luckless bowlers were not ably supported by the close - in fielders particularly the wicket keeper. Zaheer despite his experience has not consistently displayed the potency required at the highest level to rip through batting line - ups but with the advent of Ishant we are looking at the possibility that they will get the new ball to talk which will make life uncomfortable for any top order batsmen. This will help Anil and Bhajji have a go at the unsettled middle order which in itself is a mouthwatering prospect for any Indian Cricket lover. Barring this series Saurav was in the best form of his life after his comeback. With his daring strokeplay he can unsettle any opposing captain and his bowlers. Who knows that the forthcoming series with an Aus side bereft of McGrath, Warne, Gilly will see the reemergence of the Fab Four and Anil.

Posted by Supratik on (August 14, 2008, 6:41 GMT)

Excellent article Dileep. The 'Fab Four', whose fans most rational fans are, are definitely in decline. However, considering the class of Sachin & the doggedness of Dravid, it is Ganguly and Laxman who must first be told that their days are up. The selectors must thank them for their yeoman services over the last dozen years, specially the former who changed the persona of Team India as captain. Then get in Sharma and Tiwari in the place of these two. Unfortunately Badrinath will be the Martin Love or Stuart Law. Only XI can play after all. Sachin and Dravid can possibly go on for another couple of years. By the time we should see some more new faces like Kohli and Raina who may be ready by then. Lets hope we don't see Australia 84 or Windies 91 happening. The best time to bite the bullett is now, since the new selection committee is set to assume office before the Australia series. But will they?

Posted by Cricdish on (August 14, 2008, 6:34 GMT)

The first person who needs to be thrown out is Ganguly.

At least the others are showing the willingness to guts it out and play ugly looking innings. Ganguly, in Australia, had 4 scores of 40 or above in the first two games (Melbourne & Sydney). Despite him getting out to a dubious catch at Sydney, the fact remains that you expected a batsman like him to go on and get 100s. Instead he was getting out to Brad Hogg, of all people! After the first 2 tests, his performance degraded significantly.

He's in the side only because of his 100s against Pakistan and the match-winning 80-odd against South Africa. Other than that, he's batted without any sort of commitment to the team cause. See the tentative manner in which he was batting in Sri Lanka, not going fully forward to Murali/Mendis & poking his bat outside off to Vaas.

It's high time Ganguly was thrown out and Badrinath brought in. Then we phase out, in order, Laxman (after giving him opportunities at #5), Tendulkar & Dravid.

Posted by Mahesh.R on (August 14, 2008, 6:34 GMT)

As a first step Ganguly should be ousted from the team as he is the weakest link. As for Tendulkar, it is a temporary loss of form. Even against the Lankans, he did not show any serious symptom of weakness. It is was bad luck plus pressure plus recklessness that resulted in such a poor series for the little master. Mind you, he was India's best batsman in early 2008 in Australia. As for Laxman, he can go on for at least 2 more years. Dravid is slowly coming back to form as is seen from the 3rd test against Srilanka. I would suggest Ganguly be dropped and Badrinath or Rohit Sharma be inducted in his place. I feel Badrinath should be given first preference considering his age.

Posted by srinivaskoripella on (August 14, 2008, 6:32 GMT)

I think its unfair atleast in the case of Laxman to just look at the numbers. He has been struck with the tail all the more often and even in the SL series he looked the best equipped among the FAB 4. I think Dravid is clearly in decline, Ganguly was never going to be more than a decent test player so i would be inclined to drop these two, get Laxman batting at 3 and Sharma/Kaif/Yuvraj/Badri battling it for no's 5 and 6 after Tendulkar at 4.

Posted by Crazy_4cricket on (August 14, 2008, 5:58 GMT)

Nice Dileep......these Fab4 are being allowed to continue irrespective of their continual failure showing the reason that there is nobody to replace these players with more than 30,000 test runs. but if this were the process of selection, we would not have seen the likes Ponting, Hussey or Kevin Peterson representing their respective countries. It may happen India will face some hiccups when players like Sachin,Sourav and Dravid retire, but it will only to secure the future of Indian cricket for next decade or so.......even Kumble has lost his agility......again the same question is being asked who has the ability to replace him.......but we have seen McGrath replacing McDermott and Srinath Replacing Kapil Dev.....then why we won't find a replacement for Kumble....Kumble has achieved his excellence only through the international exposure....if we could provide him that why we are reluctant to provide exposure to some younger bowler so that we can have a future Kumble...

Posted by thewombat on (August 14, 2008, 5:30 GMT)

Dileep, you have a point, and the selectors should change their attitudes. However, it's ridiculously unfair to put all the blame on them. Half the responsibility must be on the youngsters, to perform so well they bang the door down and can't be ignored by the selectors. None in India are presently doing that. Look at Aus, yes we had the courage to retire Healy (despite much opposition) but it happened b/c Gilly was pulverising state attacks with batting averages such that he couldn't be ignored. Do you think for a second the selectors would have had the guts to put him in otherwise? of course not. Replacing proven performers will only happen when the new crop perform domestically like they can fill the void. Boards want change for the sake of improvement, not change for the sake of change. It's up to India's youngsters to perform better and prove they deserve these spots.

Posted by pganu on (August 14, 2008, 5:21 GMT)

There seems to be a tremendous bias in the media while talking of Tendulkar. If others like Dravid, VVS, Ganguly, Sehwag fail then criticism is plenty and sharp. When Tendulkar fails, it is always couched in soft language and only given a brief mention. That is the bane of Indian cricket where the individual becomes bigger than the team. Every player should be in the team purely on merit. The selectors should have the courage to drop a player and say that he has been dropped. By not inducting youngsters in time, their career prospects are given a big blow. Badrinath is a case in point. And here is the cake - if any youngster fails, he is immediately crucified by all concerned. If seniors like Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, VVS are given 'life'; more than the proverbial cat then why not encourage youngsters without holding the Damocles' sword over their heads ?

Posted by Arjun85 on (August 14, 2008, 5:11 GMT)

I remember similar articles after each series in which Tendulkar doesn't do well. And yet, he manages to come back with performances that are unmatched by any in the team, and certainly among the best in the world. Clearly, people have forgotten that he played just one test against SA, and three now. Are four bad tests enough to demand his retirement? What about the four good tests in Australia? Emotion after a defeat is all very well, but please try and temper it with logic.

Posted by srikanths on (August 14, 2008, 5:02 GMT)

There is no point in getting out in one stroke. We should have phased them out .We should start with Ganguly, in the next one year progress to Dravid and Tendulkar and them may be a year after that, get Laxman out. Atleast put them on notice imemdiately. We can not bring ina certain helpessness amonsgt the youngetrs. They will start wondering whether good performance will ever get them India berth.We can not live in the past. Of course, I take people like Premachandran with a pich of salt. Their tribe make living on critism. They are genetically tuned to oppose anything. They go overboard on everything, either in prasie or in criticism. When Greg Chappell slipped Ganguly out , they were all hollering away. It was a time when Ganguly deserved the boot. His subsequent fighting [erformance can not justofy the failures which prompted the boot

Posted by jaininkashi on (August 14, 2008, 4:58 GMT)

Per me, its a well compiled article but i would like to point out that Kaif is one of the most consistent performers with the bat in the domestic circuit on the basis of which he was included for the series against SA in the absence of SAchin. But surprisingly he was droppped for this series to accomodate Sharma who has done nothing to get a test call, that too after dismal show in Asia cup & Kiply cup. he was certainly not included on form. If domestic performance is a criterion, then Kaif & Badri should be front runners. as for the question, who should be dropped, then Ganguly should be first & then Dravid. Laxman needs a promotion like hell. so many times he is alone with the tail & almost every time in majestic touch. captain should know that he is good batting with the tail. he takes singles on first ball of overs to give strike to the tail. he should be allowed to flow freely, hence should be asked to bat at no. 3. & for yuvraj please give him two series & not two matches.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (August 14, 2008, 4:56 GMT)

I agree that the time is right to bring in some youngsters into the Test team. It is very easy to lament that no one can replace the Fab Four.When Sehwag started his career no one expected him to make such a major impact with his strokeplay,and penchant for big scores. In fact he was pushed up to open as a stop gap arrangement in Sri Lanka, not in recognition of his talent. It is just that he is fearless, nerveless and has the hand-eye-mind co-ordination that great batsmen usually have. Then again, how many of us would have imagined him scoring 300 in a Test innings. He has done it twice and stands on the same plank as Bradman and Lara. In fact he had very few big innings in domestic cricket when he came to the international level. Rohit Sharma, was just carrying drinks over the tours to Ireland,and England last year.Scribes opined that he was not yet ready. Yet when he got the chance he excelled even if he has not scored big as yet.Gary Sobers' first hundered was 365 n o !

Posted by KapilVijan on (August 14, 2008, 4:43 GMT)

Pretty nice article, but I just wish team selectors are somewhat bothered the way we're. How often we have been relying on the likes of Sehwag to set the tone for the match. It reminds of mid-90s team when Sachin had a similar situation. If he would fire, then team had a chance and otherwise pack of cards. Look at Australia, and learn some lessons from them. Though its very difficult to find a middle order like this, but even retaining them is not helping team either. They may have records, runs, centuries etc. but of no use. Now the pity is ever batsmen can't even handle quality spin, forget anything else. We can't defend series at home. So its time to change, before too late.

Posted by SriKan on (August 14, 2008, 4:41 GMT)

It is good someone from the journalistic field is writing about this noticeable decline in the Indian test team. There are definite signs that the batting stars have been on the decline with only some exceptional innings in the last couple of years between them. As great as Sachin is, he also has quite a few chronic injuries to contend with of late. I've wondered atleast for 2 years when looking at the Indian test lineup about the absence of atleast a couple of names like Rohit Sharma or Raina or Badrinath in the regular test mix for the batting slots. This is the only way they can ease into the regular slots held by former stars. The need is urgent to just play them when the next series comes up. The bowlers are more injury prone. There is a need to focus on developing a good rotation system (to sustain someone like Ishant Sharma) and to tap into a wider talent pool.

Posted by krkode on (August 14, 2008, 4:32 GMT)

I feel like Indian cricket would be much better-served if we took our chances with the older lot. I see a lot more sense in picking someone like Badrinath, with a proven first-class record, than someone like Virat Kohli who is just about beginning. If recent history has shown anything, all that tends to become of such situations is the new guy comes into the team for a series, underperforms either because he's intimidated by his older opponents or simply not experienced enough. We then drop him and stick to our old guns like Tendulkar, Ganguly, etc. year after year saying there is no one better. Look at Australia. If we got someone like Darren Lehmann or Mike Hussey, they might not turn into record-busters like Tendulkar or Lara but if they gave Indian cricket a good 5 years and about 50 test matches, we'd be better off than what we do now-giving our under-19s 5 test matches and our veterans 150. We can't expect to try out every 20-year old kid hoping he turns into the next Tendulkar.

Posted by theopener on (August 14, 2008, 4:27 GMT)

India needs to start experimenting with mixing young talent with experience side, this is the only way India can still compete with best of test sides while infusing confidence of younger players. Badrinath has been in conversation for years but his inclusion has never materialize. He will get his chance and hopefully he will be a Mike Hussey clone and will flourish internationally. R. Sharma & Raina both have a promising future ahead of them and should be infused into the test side. The four senior batsman should serve these young players as mentors and hone them for India's future.

Posted by Brendanvio on (August 14, 2008, 4:18 GMT)

Beat you to this Dileep with my inbox post :P

Although the fact that Australia are their next opponents may proote some conservatism, I think its too late for some of them (Namely Dravid and Kumble). I want India to play its best possible team and I believe those two and probably Ganguly (Who doesn't have a good record against Australia anyway) are dead weight.

Posted by ganeshloveindia on (August 14, 2008, 4:00 GMT)

Its a good article by dileep. i am a great fan of sachin,dravid ,lakshman, ganguly and kumble and at the same time i love cricket also. My request these superstars must give way to the newly talented guys of indian cricket. Give opportunity to Rohit,Badrinath,piyush and suresh raina ,they are talented cricketers. How many players are waiting for to come to the indian team ,the seniors must think about these people also. Just check the srilankan series,its a shame the way they batted. The indian batsmen are good in spin but here they show its only in talking. If they cannot perform well please leave for the juniors then they get a respect retired from the high peak time. See srinath, kapildev they are retired in their peak time. They are still the great players of all time.We all remember their contribution to indian cricket. We are looking for new sachin, dravid in youngsters. I am sure they can bring our country at high level.

Posted by sachink.khanna on (August 14, 2008, 3:56 GMT)

Undoubtedly this is a very well compiled article, the continuity is remarkable. Talking about the context, yes the old middle order needs to be shown the door, but again the issue is how soon this can be done in place. Do we have young men around the corner who can fill these shoes with ease, I think the answer is no, their over-willingness to perform might also lead to non-performances and with these days averages and performance meter monitored by media, we might see a lot of chopping of heads in next 2 years.

The selection system should gradually make replicas of these old horses in discussion with these guys whose places needs to be filled in time before India loses its shine in the Test arena.

Posted by SachinIsTheGreatest on (August 14, 2008, 3:54 GMT)

This is an excellent article. However I think the problem has been the failures of players like Kaif and Yuvraj at the test level which has forced us to go back to Ganguly and the others. Add to that when the "seniors" did come back, barring the SL series, they have done exceedingly well and have been in the team on sheer performances.

However I feel one name that was missed in this list was Gambhir. I think he has been one player who has made the transition from ODIsm to Tests. Was this because of good form or is he really a good test player only time will tell?

Posted by aditya.pidaparthy on (August 14, 2008, 3:51 GMT)

I am very assured about the fact, that this article will be retracted after the completion of the next series and I mean it from all perspective of all the four. Its a fairly common occurence. The author should not be worried.

Foot in mouth is very common disease amongst journalists. The remedy/vaccine is being worked upon.

Posted by On-Drive on (August 14, 2008, 3:48 GMT)

Oldest of the Batsmen, Ganguly should go first. He was not able to raise his level in Australia or SL. Dravid should probably follow him quickly.

Posted by ambrishsundaram on (August 14, 2008, 3:48 GMT)

Traditionally, India has never shown the gumption to drop superstars who were past their shelflife. The only superstar, who probably retired gracefully (as in "when everybody says why, not why not") was Sunil Gavaskar. The rest, including the likes of Kapil Dev, hung around way past their prime. What we see in Indian cricket today is deja vu. I believe that the selectors will gradually show the door to Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Kumble. Sachin though, is a different story and despite his repeated inconsistent performances he will remain a holy cow, thus prolonging the agony and pain for Indian cricket and himself.

More and Co. started down the path of grooming the youth, but the shenanigans of the board and Greg Chappell put paid to the elegant execution of such plans. Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Posted by s-cube on (August 14, 2008, 3:20 GMT)

A very well written article! I am a fan of Tendulkar, Dravid, VVS and Ganguly but hard decisions await the administrators of Indian cricket and there are no easy answers. The next year will decide the direction Indian cricket will take.

Posted by TwitterJitter on (August 14, 2008, 3:13 GMT)

Well put, Dileep. However, I am sure none of the selectors will be listening. They are deaf to the realities of the team's ailments. However, they are not stupid and have their own parochial interests to protect. They need to protect and preserve players representing their zones; else they might be booted out of that positions by officials from their zone. It is a shame but it is time that players like Dravid and Kumble who have been running on fumes for some quite some time are still allowed to hang on to their positions. Even Sachin and Ganguly's performances need to be monitored in the Australia series. If they perform the same way they did in SL series, they need to be dropped and asked to prove their form in the domestic tournaments. Dravid has so many cow webs in his head that it will take him another 5 years to get his confidence back. He has become a stroke less wonder. Pecking order for being shown the door.1. Dravid 2. Kumble 3. Ganguly 4. Sachin 5. Laxman (all in next 2 yrs)

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Dileep PremachandranClose
Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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