July 29, 2011

Lessons from Lord's

India's passion for their No. 1 status has been conspicuous by absence in their preparations for big tours
64

And so India lose the first game of a series again. Writers scurry along to write articles they have often written in the past, pundits voice the same thoughts, many more programmes are done, fans continue to moan, and the sun continues to rise, erasing the previous day. And the weeks go on, as do the months. Soon there will be another game, people will still be buying tickets, television rights will still be sold, and loyal fans will find something else to cheer about.

But the BCCI could well say it has always been like this and India are still No. 1. That is indeed true, but I'm sure it knows, for it's as shrewd as anyone else, that India's ascent is not because it has always been like that but despite it.

If a student gets a distinction after studying under streetlights, you don't make him study under streetlights all the time, do you? This is a high-quality Indian cricket team, but the journey towards excellence never ceases. Intel makes great processors, but it is always trying to make better ones, and for India to remain the best they must be passionate about being No. 1. That passion was missing at Lord's.

India's itineraries have always been like a school time-table: 9.20-10.10: English, 10.10-11.00: Physics, 11.00-11.50: History. February 19-April 02: World Cup, April 08-May 28: IPL, June 04-July 10: tour of the West Indies, June 15-September 16: tour of England. And so on.

In the BCCI's defence, it has always said that if a player needs rest, the board will allow it, and accordingly a lot of players missed the tour of the West Indies. So surely they should have been fresh for England? But resting and being ready are two different things. Hitting a ball in the nets cannot simulate batting against high-quality swing bowling. If you just turn up, you play like you have... well, just turned up. And it is not only India. England came straight from Australia to the World Cup, and lost matches they should have won. Some of Australia's players came straight from the Champions League in South Africa to a Test series in India, and struggled. Each time players and administrators knew what was right, yet did what was wrong. It is like sitting across the table, and talking about peace; you know what to do but won't do it

It can be argued that had Zaheer Khan not been injured the result could have been different. And it could just as well be argued that injuries can happen any time. It is a fair argument except that it leads you to a sub-optimal solution, which is to continue being under-prepared, to believe that the current state of affairs will continue to deliver results. Athletes and other sportsmen tune themselves to be ready for the big occasion. They may still lose, but they will lose having prepared the best they could. England in England are an outstanding side. At the best of times it would require a great effort to beat them, but India did not allow themselves that opportunity. An argument cannot erase the truth.

India should be a better side in Nottingham, but will have to dust themselves and stand up again. England will emerge full of confidence, and while voices in the media have already anointed them No. 1 in the world, the word from within the team is appropriately cautious. "We don't feel we are No. 1 in the world because we are not. We are No. 3," Andy Flower said. "Talking rankings is pointless at the moment." It is precisely this thinking, as opposed to appropriating the future before it has presented itself, that sets this England team apart. There are many other reasons, most of them good, and, as Nasser Hussain suggested, they are playing less and feeling fresher.

India have the pedigree to bounce back in Nottingham, but must find a way to take 20 wickets. They will be tougher and better prepared, and from that point of view a four-Test series allows them a little longer to force their way back than a three-Test affair can. But they shouldn't have to play catch-up all the time. It's a lesson yet to be learned.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on July 31, 2011, 1:24 GMT

    Harsha, I'm not going to touch on your article because I agree with everything you said. I'm going to touch on things that you didn't. There's more to our loss than the topics you touched. Dhoni and Ishant post lunch day 4. What's that story? Aren't 40 minutes of rest at lunch enough for a young fast bowler in cool english conditions? Did Dhoni goof up in the choice of his bowler post lunch and then begged and cajoled Ishant to go to media to cook a story so that Dhoni can save his own skin? Or did Ishant indeed request for a break? Either way you look at it, that's horrible Captaincy that cost us the match. What kind of a Captain is he that he couldn't make his budding young fast bowler see the enormity of the occassion? I was heart broken. Add to that, look at the way Sachin played and let the bowlers dictate terms with that single off 40 balls. Dhoni's captaincy and Sachin's negativity cost us dearly. Clearly these two goofed up things that they have control over.

  • NSR1 on July 31, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    I totally agree that Dhoni has now become a part of India's tail which refuses to wag. Dhoni is not staying long enough in front of the stumps, not doing a good job behind it and not thinking/planning/ reacting to situations as he used to in the past as a captain. It seems his hunger has been more than satiated with leading the team to the 20-20 and the ODI world cups and being at the helm of an Indian team that is at the top of the Test rankings. If not, then it's high time he lifted his game by at-least a few notches if he is to remain captain and in the team. He should not forget the the Indian fans and the selectors have a short memory. Places of greats such as Sachin, Dravid and VVS in the test side have been called into question fairly quickly, and Dhoni needs to show some real cricket if he wants to hang in there.

  • cricketSB on July 30, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    Dare I state the obvious? With all the injuries and the famed English conditions, England have a slight edge. And they are good enough to convert that slight edge into victories. Surely India will fight hard, and surely there will be the token Tendulkar century, and the columnists will have enough to write about. But they will lose the series because Prior is better than Dhoni. Also, England can consistently score 50-100 runs after losing seven wickets. India's tail, which now includes Dhoni, can't provide 50 runs per innings. Dravid and Laxman can't score 75% of the runs everyday, because that's not how it works. Forget about #1, if India has to remain in the top 4, their players have to "rest" out of the IPL. Yeah right! As if that would ever happen.

  • VIPUL4203 on July 30, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    HOW MANY FANS IN INDIA WILL WATCH INDIA MATCHES WHETHER TEST OR ONEDAY WITHOUT SACHIN TENDULKAR?

    CRICKET FAVOUR IN INDIA WILL GO VERY MUCH DOWN AFTER TENDULKAR RETIREMENT.

    GUARANTEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FROM;

    VIPUL K THORAT

    A-5, Tapovan duplex, nr.kaladarshan char rasta, Waghodia Road, BARODA.- 390019 GUJARAT, INDIA

    MOB; 9925059420

  • on July 30, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    I dont think Indians ever have a passion to be the No. 1 team in the world and that's why they keep on losing winning games or throw away their wickets. They are at the top because the other teams are playing badly and our team has maintained their standard for a long time.

    Its very plain to see that England are dying to be No. 1 Team, in Tests and ODIs, and try and wrestle back the advantage of controlling the ICC from BCCI .

  • DaveLaw on July 30, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    What happen to Zak who claimed that he knew his body well and only a constant workout will keep him fit. Look like his waist line suggest otherwise.

    What are the team doctors doing by not giving flu shot to the team as soon as they arrived in England?

  • vmohan123 on July 30, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    @Rahulbose.But, iit was one of those "seniors" who let India in with even a glimmer of a hope with that century. On the other hand, may I suggest that there should be some cap on the number of matches a player can play in an IPL. Let there be a mandatory rotation policy. This is taking a toll on international cricket.

  • on July 30, 2011, 7:04 GMT

    Have been harping on this for some time now. Just like some players are considered to be "format specialists" (e.g. VVS for tests and Y Pathan for T20), we need to prepare some "condition specialists" (e.g. specialists for Aus, WI, SA and Eng conditions). The English condition specialists can train in simulated conditions back home and also be encouraged to play English county cricket.

  • harsha786 on July 30, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    well...india have always been complacent when it really matters and it always let the opposition off the hooks only when the last knock out punch is required..which is certainly not the way champions play....atleast not the way I saw australian play growing up.Be it desperation of not being able to clean up the tail in first test in WI, or tamely giving up the chase in last test or letting stuart broad take the initaitive after ravaging the top order ....as a loyal fan i have always been disappointed in team for losing way just when the looked lke conquering it all. Since forever we have been an unbeatable side but only on papers and currently statistically the no 1 test side but that doesnt excites nobody .what does is watching Sreesanth leethal outswinger taking the edge ,zaheer yorker distorting stumps ,and praveen slow swingers baffling the batsmen....AND someone standing up when team needs it , taking team across the line!!

  • henchart on July 30, 2011, 1:21 GMT

    Would my favourite from Bandra do it today at Notts? Series has reached a defining moment.Hail Kumar,Sreesanth and Sharma .Down with the turbanator.I guess,Notts -India,Birmingham-India ,Oval -England. Series 2-2.India no.1 and England No.3 .Well written Mr.Bhogle ,for a change.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on July 31, 2011, 1:24 GMT

    Harsha, I'm not going to touch on your article because I agree with everything you said. I'm going to touch on things that you didn't. There's more to our loss than the topics you touched. Dhoni and Ishant post lunch day 4. What's that story? Aren't 40 minutes of rest at lunch enough for a young fast bowler in cool english conditions? Did Dhoni goof up in the choice of his bowler post lunch and then begged and cajoled Ishant to go to media to cook a story so that Dhoni can save his own skin? Or did Ishant indeed request for a break? Either way you look at it, that's horrible Captaincy that cost us the match. What kind of a Captain is he that he couldn't make his budding young fast bowler see the enormity of the occassion? I was heart broken. Add to that, look at the way Sachin played and let the bowlers dictate terms with that single off 40 balls. Dhoni's captaincy and Sachin's negativity cost us dearly. Clearly these two goofed up things that they have control over.

  • NSR1 on July 31, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    I totally agree that Dhoni has now become a part of India's tail which refuses to wag. Dhoni is not staying long enough in front of the stumps, not doing a good job behind it and not thinking/planning/ reacting to situations as he used to in the past as a captain. It seems his hunger has been more than satiated with leading the team to the 20-20 and the ODI world cups and being at the helm of an Indian team that is at the top of the Test rankings. If not, then it's high time he lifted his game by at-least a few notches if he is to remain captain and in the team. He should not forget the the Indian fans and the selectors have a short memory. Places of greats such as Sachin, Dravid and VVS in the test side have been called into question fairly quickly, and Dhoni needs to show some real cricket if he wants to hang in there.

  • cricketSB on July 30, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    Dare I state the obvious? With all the injuries and the famed English conditions, England have a slight edge. And they are good enough to convert that slight edge into victories. Surely India will fight hard, and surely there will be the token Tendulkar century, and the columnists will have enough to write about. But they will lose the series because Prior is better than Dhoni. Also, England can consistently score 50-100 runs after losing seven wickets. India's tail, which now includes Dhoni, can't provide 50 runs per innings. Dravid and Laxman can't score 75% of the runs everyday, because that's not how it works. Forget about #1, if India has to remain in the top 4, their players have to "rest" out of the IPL. Yeah right! As if that would ever happen.

  • VIPUL4203 on July 30, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    HOW MANY FANS IN INDIA WILL WATCH INDIA MATCHES WHETHER TEST OR ONEDAY WITHOUT SACHIN TENDULKAR?

    CRICKET FAVOUR IN INDIA WILL GO VERY MUCH DOWN AFTER TENDULKAR RETIREMENT.

    GUARANTEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FROM;

    VIPUL K THORAT

    A-5, Tapovan duplex, nr.kaladarshan char rasta, Waghodia Road, BARODA.- 390019 GUJARAT, INDIA

    MOB; 9925059420

  • on July 30, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    I dont think Indians ever have a passion to be the No. 1 team in the world and that's why they keep on losing winning games or throw away their wickets. They are at the top because the other teams are playing badly and our team has maintained their standard for a long time.

    Its very plain to see that England are dying to be No. 1 Team, in Tests and ODIs, and try and wrestle back the advantage of controlling the ICC from BCCI .

  • DaveLaw on July 30, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    What happen to Zak who claimed that he knew his body well and only a constant workout will keep him fit. Look like his waist line suggest otherwise.

    What are the team doctors doing by not giving flu shot to the team as soon as they arrived in England?

  • vmohan123 on July 30, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    @Rahulbose.But, iit was one of those "seniors" who let India in with even a glimmer of a hope with that century. On the other hand, may I suggest that there should be some cap on the number of matches a player can play in an IPL. Let there be a mandatory rotation policy. This is taking a toll on international cricket.

  • on July 30, 2011, 7:04 GMT

    Have been harping on this for some time now. Just like some players are considered to be "format specialists" (e.g. VVS for tests and Y Pathan for T20), we need to prepare some "condition specialists" (e.g. specialists for Aus, WI, SA and Eng conditions). The English condition specialists can train in simulated conditions back home and also be encouraged to play English county cricket.

  • harsha786 on July 30, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    well...india have always been complacent when it really matters and it always let the opposition off the hooks only when the last knock out punch is required..which is certainly not the way champions play....atleast not the way I saw australian play growing up.Be it desperation of not being able to clean up the tail in first test in WI, or tamely giving up the chase in last test or letting stuart broad take the initaitive after ravaging the top order ....as a loyal fan i have always been disappointed in team for losing way just when the looked lke conquering it all. Since forever we have been an unbeatable side but only on papers and currently statistically the no 1 test side but that doesnt excites nobody .what does is watching Sreesanth leethal outswinger taking the edge ,zaheer yorker distorting stumps ,and praveen slow swingers baffling the batsmen....AND someone standing up when team needs it , taking team across the line!!

  • henchart on July 30, 2011, 1:21 GMT

    Would my favourite from Bandra do it today at Notts? Series has reached a defining moment.Hail Kumar,Sreesanth and Sharma .Down with the turbanator.I guess,Notts -India,Birmingham-India ,Oval -England. Series 2-2.India no.1 and England No.3 .Well written Mr.Bhogle ,for a change.

  • zxaar on July 30, 2011, 0:43 GMT

    ONE loss and everyone including some of the indians started treating india team as if they were Bangladesh. As if no number 1 team ever lost a test match. And if #1 teams of past did not lose single match how come they are not ranked #1 today??

  • on July 29, 2011, 22:12 GMT

    India is STILL no 1 test team,and are world champs,and they are so NOT without reasons,why every one is talking about absence of zak,why are we forgetting the status of Sachin,Dravid,Laxman and the kind of Raina,Yuvi and Dhoni?is there any better lineup?how many runs they have scored?And I see no reson why wont they score tommorow,So guys dont worry,take chill pill and sleep,Oh yah,let india win this one,every one would be putting there money on Indians

  • golax on July 29, 2011, 22:12 GMT

    @RahulBose: You clearly seem to be unaware of the 2007 ashes then.

  • on July 29, 2011, 20:50 GMT

    The essence of the article is perfect !! Well said Harsha. However, I felt that the match was played well by both teams. Being a fan of India, I should say that Team India have tried their best to hang on to "Passionate of being No. 1", but probably they had history of "losing first match in the series" somewhere in the back of their minds :) :) !! I hope that with the help of captain cool, Team India will soon realize that the toughest task is not to reach No.1 but to be there for long. Of course, fitness issues is a huge factor, good for grooming young talent but can hit the result of an important series/match like this one.

  • Bhrams on July 29, 2011, 18:54 GMT

    @tjsimonsen, agree with you largely. There are weirdos on either side. I'm an Indian fan and am constantly frustrated by the jingoistic breast-beating by some of my fellow countrymen on these pages - and elsewhere. It's even more frustrating as an SRT fan to see him being pulled into every single discussion - relevant or not.

  • Rahulbose on July 29, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Another journo too afraid to admit the obvious. Indian legends are too old to compete. Australia in 2005 went in with a team full of legends and got beat by a young English team to trigger the end of an era. Same fate awaits this great India side.

  • Asadpk on July 29, 2011, 18:20 GMT

    Harsha and others can explicitly single out Zaheer for his lack of preparation and they are 100% correct but what about Tendulkar? Flu or not he looked as much rusty as anyone. But wait, how can they put a finger on the so-called god of cricket? it would be blasphemy right?

  • on July 29, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    very true harsha. vvery well said.!

  • on July 29, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    I don't like to blame anyone, end of the day i did enjoy the match. Its good that Zaheer is injured, now India will learn to bowl with out Zaheer, similar to their learning in early 2000's when they learned to bat without sachin. It is unfortunate that lead bowler of India is out of the match the very 1st day. India struggled but there are positives. Dravid century, Suresh Raina holding the nerver, Ishanth Sharma back to form. We don't have to critic the lost match. It is the 1st match lost under Dhoni's captaincy. He is a human being. he cant win all the matches. I am happy to see Sreeshanth, Praveen and Ishanth bowled exceptionally well today. Bottom line, we are still the champions, losing one match will not lose hope. Go India Go!!! :)

  • on July 29, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    This article, whilst it touches one of the serious problems that Indian cricket team faces everytime it plays a major test series overseas (from 2003 to 2011), I have to say Harsha, it is incomplete. Even a basic cricket fan will know that there are (were) never enough practice games before the first Lords test. That is exactly why Indian team looks so shaddy in the first test and come back big time after that thrashing. We had one practice match against Middlesex in which some Suppiah and Strauss batted twice and played for two days, leaving Indian batters to play only one innings in swinging conditions. I am not blaming anyone here, I want to know whose fault this is.

  • Shadab2190 on July 29, 2011, 14:36 GMT

    India always plays like this..They will lose the first match in any series which they play away home..They will find their grip slowly while their series progresses..and eventually manages to draw the series at the the most in the end...Rarely they come out wining a series ...The problem is that they are Laidback in nature,take things granted,and hence becomes underprepared..!!!

  • muski on July 29, 2011, 14:33 GMT

    Harsha-You are bang on target about the school time table and Indian Cricket Time Table. Do the bosses of BCCI think that they can give rest to whosoever wishes to take rest and still perform well. Without a certain Mr Virendra Sehwag, we are wobbling at the top. I beg to differ that our bench strength is great. This being the case, the BCCI needs to pick and choose horses for courses. Lets assume Dravid said he wants rest as after IPL and Windies tour he is tired. Can the BCCI afford that for the English tour.Most certainly not. Zaheer has certainly let down the country. As you said in commentary today that the problem with Sreesanth is Sreesanth himself, it is true of ones body as well- nobody knows their body better than the person himself. These guys being professional cricketers should know how much their body can take.

  • Herath-UK on July 29, 2011, 14:01 GMT

    England this time arranged a few warm up games prior to the Ashes and result is history.This is more of a problem for countries like Sri Lanka,WI,SA,Pakistan who would go for more ODIs instead of warm up matches for want of cash.Minimum two 3/4 day warm up matches prior to every BL Test series(barring of course Zim/BD) should be made a must. Ranil Herath -Kent

  • CricketChat on July 29, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    I would attribute to complacency. Ind team should realize a well known proverb that it is harder to stay at the top than reach there. Dhoni's contribution (both as a player and captain) in Tests is not as effective or inspiring as in shorter formats. Ind should look for a new player for WK role soon.

  • cardassian on July 29, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    @sweetspot ipl ratings are already dropping so I don't think it's doing much at all for globalising cricket. Also where is ipl popular that isn't a test playing nation or an associate nation? nowhere that's where. now at least test cricket is cricket in its purist form, something that every true cricket fan respects and cherishes. it definately shouldn't die out and should be promoted better.

  • Herath-UK on July 29, 2011, 11:49 GMT

    Harsha points to England coming to WC straight from Australia and about some Aussies but did you conveniently forget to mention Sri Lankan coming hot hot to England right from IPL?Come on Harsha,be sporty. Ranil Herath - Kent

  • on July 29, 2011, 11:36 GMT

    Very well said Harsha.Very Interesting to read your articles for the way you write them.I think Three reasons why India lost the game at Lords 1.All knows that sehwag is not there at Lords in the first day of the Match.Remember If Sehwag is there it diffently should have added more strength to the Team because he ll make the bowlers with his shot making. 2.Zaheer's injury in the First day of the Test has hurt India a Lot. 3.And Finally,The way sachin batted in the game.Especially in the Second Innings he did n't showed any intent to play shots.

  • on July 29, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    Blame the board. Blame the schedule. Blame other formats. Blame the authorities that handle the players. Really??

    How about the players themselves. Is our team in the same physical condition as the English, the Proteas... heck even the Lankans? Did we show any fire during that loss? Was there any sting in the tail? Do we have the strength of mind of Indias 1983 team or the WIndies team of the 70's to claw back from tough situations?

    There are so many questions yet to be answered. This series will answer all of them. That's the beauty of Test cricket. You can't hide a chink in the armour.

    Hope we bounce right back today.

  • on July 29, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    Great article Harsha!! fair analysis of the game. completely unbiased.

  • sweetspot on July 29, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    "Resting and ready are two different things" indeed. So what do we want our players to be? Fresh, or simply fit and available? There is very little separating the top four sides in the world at the moment, and that is the truth. India did not invent the ranking system, and I don't think we are playing for the ranking. We just like to win as many as we can, AND play the IPL, AND play ODIs, AND play T20. For a team that wants to do so much, our boys are doing pretty well, Harsha. Cut them some slack. They have given us enough reason to celebrate, and I'm not sure we should artificially tie so much importance to Test cricket just because that is a popular notion. As far as I can see, the IPL is doing more for globalizing cricket than all the other Test nations' efforts put together. So, what if we are okay with letting Test cricket die out? There is a picture of cricket emerging that is much bigger than this series against England.

  • rameshkan on July 29, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    over the years, since the nineties, this has been the case. like so appropriately written by Harsha, ' u know what to do, but won't do it'. England, when they wanted to retain the ashes, down under last winter gave themselves three matches of practice.The result was there for everybody to see.they won 3-1 and retained the ashes.India should have done the same thing as they did in South Africa last winter, when the major players went early to acclimatise under Kirsten's advise.

  • concerned_cricketer on July 29, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    Well said, Harsha Bhogle! I couldn't have put these very same thoughts that have been occupying my mind in the last several days into better words in a million years. I just hope that India's bowlers and their experienced and new batsmen take pride from the fact that they represent a nation of 1200 million talented and unique people with some special talents among some weaknesses. And that they do the country proud by doing the best that they are capable of. Which means bowling sensibly, chasing down balls speeding to the boundary when it can be done, not chasing ones that can't be intercepted, protecting themselves from injuries that can be avoided (by warming up enough etc), putting in that extra effort when things are meandering to up the pace of scoring or picking up a partnership breaking wicket, trying to outhitnk the batsman more often than just using brute force (of which they don't have much) and so on. Sreesanth, Ishant, Arise, Awake and Stop Not until the Goal is Reached!

  • GrassBanks on July 29, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    I don't think this Indian side is trying to be like the "great" Australian and West Indian sides. Firstly they are simply not as good and they are not claiming to be either. For some reason people expect that the current No.1 side should dominate everyone in all conditions. I am certain that's not going to happen in a while no matter who is No.1. England will struggle in the sub-continent when they become the No.1 side. South Africa won't win everywhere either. This Indian team will lose some and win some like the others.And they will lose badly sometimes as well. As an Indian supporter I am fine with that. The No.1 ranking is over-rated. I don't care what ranking the team is at as long as they are playing to potential and giving it their best shot under the circumstances they find themselves in.

  • tjsimonsen on July 29, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    @Siddhant Dubey: So the English fans are arrogant are they? Corret me if I am wrong. But as far as I remember it wasn't them who were bashing Australians and Eglish during the Ashes for being only interested in that series and not caring about India. It wasn't English fans who were trying to hijack discussions all the time during the recent Englang-SL series, only to tell everybody who cared (not many i think) how the two teams sucked and how India would mob the floor with both of them. Nor was it the English fans (not much at any rate) who were bleating about how great and invincible their team was leading up to this series. Now, there are many resonable Indian fans on these pages. But they have IMO been far out weighted by the outright arrogant ones recently. Especially the ones who have been busy hijacking discussions during series not concerning India - there you have real arrogance.

  • on July 29, 2011, 8:52 GMT

    If india asked to bowl they have to open with ishant and sreesanth.They have to contain the top five english batsmen as early as possible as they did at lords in the 2nd innings.I feel this duo have the perfect pace and swing to get the most out of the grassy pitch at Trent bridge. If india win the toss they have to take batting whatever the conditions are and open with mukund and dravid or raina.They have to score at least 400 to win the match and sqaure the series.I hope sachin will definitely hit a big ton to answer the tabloid critics.Go india all the best.

  • Doogius on July 29, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    @ Smudgeon - and actually win test series away from the sub continent. Amazing how Harsha constantly forgets that even Zim are a power at home. Placeholder, my word, but for who? You'd have to think England are the best team in the world. Good quicks, spin, bats and wk. And they play regularly away...

  • on July 29, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    Spot on Harsha!...hopefully by playing the 1st test...our team has got used to the English conditions!...in mathematical terms...India minus Zaheer and England plus KP...tilts the balance in favour of England...so if India has to do well in the second test...get KP out early in both the innings!...and let the English tail not wag much!...Indian fans have patience, passion and are prepared for their team to lose the first and fight back in the remaining tests!....

  • thealmighty on July 29, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    I cant agree more with Harsha. Hes always spot on. rather than saying that we always come back after lossing the 1st test why loose it in first place you might as well start 1-0 down and start playing the second test straightaway. Their is absolutely no doubt that this Indian team is teh best we had and after stellar performances i failure cannot lead to downright criticism. I think the 1st test lost was a combination of badluck, indiscipline and poor performance. 3 players getting injured doesnt happen often and has. Zaheer has to take majority of the blame as he put the whole team in jeopardy. Now we have to live with what we have and lets hope this team bounces back the same way it has in last 2 years. Need a hero someone like Sreesanth to put up his hand and deliver the goods.

  • rkannancrown on July 29, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    Good analysis. Lords defeat had two features apart from Zaheer's injury. The famed batting line up failed even though the rookies (Mukund & Raina) did reasonably well. Dravid, Laxman & Sachin need to fire for India to come back.The second part is the inability to finish off the tail. Ishant bowled India back into the game on 4th day morning but Bhajji made no impact.

  • Nutcutlet on July 29, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    Of course, international teams are stretched and cannot be at concert-pitch all the time. Bhogle is correct in his assessment in that regard but as a fair-minded Indian commentator, I find it strange that there's no mention of the impact of the IPL. Now, if there is one form of cricket that is designed to be a disservice to test cricket and the mentality that test cricketers need to adopt to be successful, then a marathon 20-20 tournament is the best I can think of! It is simply asking too much of the players concerned. So, choices have to be made. National cricket boards have to decide in which basket to put their eggs - or, perhaps, which baskets their players can use. It may be that when India lose the current series, a BCCI inquiry will take place and a review of national players' schedules will ensue. It's all a question of priorites and England knows that test cricket - real cricket - matters more than the almighty dollar. India must make up her mind where to put her eggs!

  • vimalkm on July 29, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    "If a student gets a distinction after studying under streetlights, you don't make him study under streetlights all the time, do you? "

    That line tells it all! The mentality of the BCCI and players! great article harsh.And look Indian even with all this shenanigans we loyal fans still cheer for you!

  • HazyClarity on July 29, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Priceless - "India's itineraries have always been like a school time-table: 9.20-10.10: English, 10.10-11.00: Physics, 11.00-11.50: History. February 19-April 02: World Cup, April 08-May 28: IPL, June 04-July 10: tour of the West Indies, June 15-September 16: tour of England."

    Zaheer apart, India could not post a 300+ total in either innings which is a shame considering the line up it boasts of.

    But, life goes on. Opportunities are plenty. Men will be separated from the boys.

    What a slugfest! Am sold...

  • on July 29, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    I agree to you Harsha, but I really can't see India coming back to level the series at Nottingham esp with Zaheer Khan not in the bowling line up. Their batting too doesn't look that convincing with the absence of Sehwag. Still, lets hope for the best and hope they gonna square the series before Edgbaston.

  • pitch_it_up on July 29, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    Well, once again Harsha comes up with perfect analysis of the game. After reading his article, like any of his others, it kinda gives hope. Not that he backs his favorite team no matter what, but his analysis of why a team lost (or won), tends to provide rationale and there by lessens the pain of a loss (or tempers the excitement of a win). In other words he puts things in right perspective and provides suggestions as to how a professional team can play to its potential....the pursuit of excellence. Love Harsha!!

    -Prashanth

  • on July 29, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Very good article harsha :)

  • on July 29, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Once again very good article by Harsha Sir, must read article for BCCI people. Here I am sure India will bounce back in second test.

  • smudgeon on July 29, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    So much has been made of India's ability to "bounce back", and "we often lose the first test of a series, but then we play better", it feels a bit like it's just expected to happen - what if the remainder of the series is washed out? No point in being bouncebackable if you lose your opportunity to do so. Eventually, something will give. India always seem to make do somehow (it's admirable that they often bowl out sides without having a high quality attack, sans Zaheer), but they just seem to be coasting a little on their #1 status and their bouncebackability - as if it doesn't matter if they lose or draw here or there, they'll make it up somewhere else. The thing that marked the great Windies and Australian sides is they never settled for anything less than a win. I really do like the Indian side (although I gather I'll get some stick from the pseudo-Indian fans), but unless they harden up and play every game like it's their last, they're only a #1 placeholder..

  • QingdaoXI on July 29, 2011, 6:48 GMT

    india is the best team in the world from last 3 years and if we talk about decade after australia india only comes second.

  • on July 29, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    Players like S Tendulkar, Z Khan, V Sehwag, G Gambhir, H Singh, Y Singh give more priority to IPL to India's international fixtures. This is the big reason for India's loss in the first match against England. Also, this was the reason for India's poor shows in the World T20 in 2009, World T20 in 2010 and ZIM tri series in 2010.

  • on July 29, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Harsha did not say anything about Tendulkar. Yes Zaheer was not prepared, neither was Sachin...He is the best batsman no doubt, but everytime he also has to start from zero. As a whole team India was not prepared due ta lackadaisical attitude of BCCI and also due to IPL.

  • on July 29, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    Absolutely agree. Harsha, you write some of the best columns on this site. Personally I feel that India need to be a more dominant no. 1 side. The Australia of old would have played their best and sustained their best performance every match.

  • india_rulzz on July 29, 2011, 6:18 GMT

    Great Article Harsha. Yes this Indian team does need to learn a lesson or two. But knowing this Indian team I can almost guarantee you that India will bounce back big time. Sreesanth will come in and wreak havoc. MARK MY WORDS.

  • on July 29, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Excellent article Harsha, I'm a big fan of you. Team India is not learning the lessons from their past. Indian's not so passionate about their no.1 spot and unless you feel it you cannot dominate the game. When Aussies are in no.1 spot we all seen how well they dominated the opponents it could be at home/away never matters for them. Since India attained the no.1 spot, i never seen them dominated a series except the minnows.

  • InAWhileLoop on July 29, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    Well, "It can be argued that had Zaheer Khan not been injured the result could have been different" is not a valid argument for a No. 1 team being bowled out for less than 300 twice in a test match. Apart from Gautam Gambhir's injury which happened on the ground all other excuses are lame. We had all batsmen fully fit in the 1st innings and arguably easier conditions to bat on than on the 1st morning. Bowling is not the only area of concern. I still don't understand why shuffling batting order was made to be a big deal. Except for top 3 batsmen all others should be able to bat anywhere and be able to defend 1 full day to save the test match.

  • WC2011Champs on July 29, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Lethargy is in our gene. Since you brought up student and time-table examples, we never really studied all semester long. The time to study was last day before exam or two if you are sincere kind. Our cricket team is also like that. Until they are challenged they like to take it easy.

    Sachin did make an effort to be in England early to acclimatize and practice but others just rested and did not get ready even physically. Seven weeks is plenty of rest if someone skipped WI tour. And why did India not win one more test in WI to consolidate their number one position and widen the gap with England?

    We Indian fans are still boasting how we come back and win games as series progresses. Honestly I am little jittery about our prospects this time around. This English team has all the virtues of Australian team we know - studies of opposition, preparation, batting and bowling strength, and execution.

    If India come out of this unscathed they truly deserve the No. 1 title.

  • on July 29, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    Harsha you're a genius. No one understands lives of cricketers better than you!

    Let's hope India beats the tripe out of whinging Poms, so that their arrogant fans shut the fuck up.

  • CanTHeeRava on July 29, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Harsha, this Indian team was never number one. The team that reached the finals of the world cup in 2003 was number one... the team that beat Australia in Perth after the Sydney fiasco was number one...and many other Indian teams were number one...After Dhoni has taken over, India might have won many series...won a worldcup or two...but, what you win is not what you have to show. I wrote this down in my diary before the Lord's test began.

  • amit_mangal30 on July 29, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    tired of saying brilliant Harsha, but this sid it all - 'If a student gets a distinction after studying under streetlights, you don't make him study under streetlights all the time, do you?'. Ans I suppose being ardent Indian Cricket fans, our sorrows and concerns are common and sad. We know BCCI is not listening, it's cashing as much as it can, till it can, without realizing that if they take a little more concern of what a dhoni or a sachin has to go through to keep this fairytale of BCCI's going, they can enjoy it much longer. It's like the chicken that gave the golden egg, trying to get all at once will leave you with none. Indian team wasn't even given a chance to celebrate the WC victory. What can be more sad. It was butchery of the feeling Sachin and we had waited for for 28 years.

  • Meety on July 29, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    I think the biggest lesson some Indian FANS can take from this is that when the going gets tough - stop looking for excuses! Zaheer wasn't the only bowler who had a hamstring strain during the Test, the other, (Tremlett), bowled brilliantly through the pain barrier.

  • k.mithilesh on July 29, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Not your best article Harsha. The argument is alright but the style is not. And please ask Sunil Gavaskar when he is going to write another book on cricket. He was the only Indian cricketer to do that and I miss Sunny the writer.

  • on July 29, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Totally agree with it...but the question is will they learn from it! Guess the answer is not that positive at least for now.

  • rahulcricindia on July 29, 2011, 4:56 GMT

    harsha you are simply a beauty...you have gracefully summed up the present condition of TEAM INDIA by neither criticizing them nor forcefully praising them ....this is the situation in which INDIA find themselves more often than not...and often gets out of it..but that simply does not mean that every time they have to get themselves in this situation...it is simply the example the example of overstretching yourself...yes get team have to do test themselves under pressure..but there is another trait of great team is to dominate from the outset..which i am afraid TEAM INDIA is missing....good luck A

  • Anant_Mishra on July 29, 2011, 4:11 GMT

    Spot on Harsha! The England tour is a marquee series and the Indian players have known that all along. Yet we don't have a full strength team. If the schedule is harsh on players, then players have to take it on themselves to manage their own bodies and keep themselves fit for a major series. One needs to look at some Australian players (e.g., Mitchell Johnson, Michael Clarke) and England players (Stuart Broad and a few others) to understand how they manage their cricketing commitments (by not participating in IPL) and keep themselves ready for test cricket. The players have all the right to earn as much money as they want by participating in T20, but not at the expense of missing out on major test matches.

  • on July 29, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    I like your style of writing. Subtle, soothing yet critical and to the point.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on July 29, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    I like your style of writing. Subtle, soothing yet critical and to the point.

  • Anant_Mishra on July 29, 2011, 4:11 GMT

    Spot on Harsha! The England tour is a marquee series and the Indian players have known that all along. Yet we don't have a full strength team. If the schedule is harsh on players, then players have to take it on themselves to manage their own bodies and keep themselves fit for a major series. One needs to look at some Australian players (e.g., Mitchell Johnson, Michael Clarke) and England players (Stuart Broad and a few others) to understand how they manage their cricketing commitments (by not participating in IPL) and keep themselves ready for test cricket. The players have all the right to earn as much money as they want by participating in T20, but not at the expense of missing out on major test matches.

  • rahulcricindia on July 29, 2011, 4:56 GMT

    harsha you are simply a beauty...you have gracefully summed up the present condition of TEAM INDIA by neither criticizing them nor forcefully praising them ....this is the situation in which INDIA find themselves more often than not...and often gets out of it..but that simply does not mean that every time they have to get themselves in this situation...it is simply the example the example of overstretching yourself...yes get team have to do test themselves under pressure..but there is another trait of great team is to dominate from the outset..which i am afraid TEAM INDIA is missing....good luck A

  • on July 29, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Totally agree with it...but the question is will they learn from it! Guess the answer is not that positive at least for now.

  • k.mithilesh on July 29, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Not your best article Harsha. The argument is alright but the style is not. And please ask Sunil Gavaskar when he is going to write another book on cricket. He was the only Indian cricketer to do that and I miss Sunny the writer.

  • Meety on July 29, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    I think the biggest lesson some Indian FANS can take from this is that when the going gets tough - stop looking for excuses! Zaheer wasn't the only bowler who had a hamstring strain during the Test, the other, (Tremlett), bowled brilliantly through the pain barrier.

  • amit_mangal30 on July 29, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    tired of saying brilliant Harsha, but this sid it all - 'If a student gets a distinction after studying under streetlights, you don't make him study under streetlights all the time, do you?'. Ans I suppose being ardent Indian Cricket fans, our sorrows and concerns are common and sad. We know BCCI is not listening, it's cashing as much as it can, till it can, without realizing that if they take a little more concern of what a dhoni or a sachin has to go through to keep this fairytale of BCCI's going, they can enjoy it much longer. It's like the chicken that gave the golden egg, trying to get all at once will leave you with none. Indian team wasn't even given a chance to celebrate the WC victory. What can be more sad. It was butchery of the feeling Sachin and we had waited for for 28 years.

  • CanTHeeRava on July 29, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Harsha, this Indian team was never number one. The team that reached the finals of the world cup in 2003 was number one... the team that beat Australia in Perth after the Sydney fiasco was number one...and many other Indian teams were number one...After Dhoni has taken over, India might have won many series...won a worldcup or two...but, what you win is not what you have to show. I wrote this down in my diary before the Lord's test began.

  • on July 29, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    Harsha you're a genius. No one understands lives of cricketers better than you!

    Let's hope India beats the tripe out of whinging Poms, so that their arrogant fans shut the fuck up.

  • WC2011Champs on July 29, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Lethargy is in our gene. Since you brought up student and time-table examples, we never really studied all semester long. The time to study was last day before exam or two if you are sincere kind. Our cricket team is also like that. Until they are challenged they like to take it easy.

    Sachin did make an effort to be in England early to acclimatize and practice but others just rested and did not get ready even physically. Seven weeks is plenty of rest if someone skipped WI tour. And why did India not win one more test in WI to consolidate their number one position and widen the gap with England?

    We Indian fans are still boasting how we come back and win games as series progresses. Honestly I am little jittery about our prospects this time around. This English team has all the virtues of Australian team we know - studies of opposition, preparation, batting and bowling strength, and execution.

    If India come out of this unscathed they truly deserve the No. 1 title.