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Commentator, television presenter and writer

Wanted: dossiers on Indian players

Like any company that manufactures products, India need have specific plans for each of its players. Anil Kumble could be the man to put them together

Harsha Bhogle

August 19, 2011

Comments: 75 | Text size: A | A

R Ashwin cools off in front of a vapouriser during India's training session, Chennai, March 16, 2011
It would help India if Tamil Nadu groomed R Ashwin into a bowling allrounder © Associated Press
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Series/Tournaments: India tour of England
Teams: India

I suspect Indian cricket is becoming the latest member of a club that believes in a theory which, unless already named otherwise, can be called the Precipice Theory. It is a club whose members steadfastly refuse to see the obvious unless they are driven to a situation where no other option presents itself. And so it is that the BCCI has now decided to ask Cricket Australia for another warm-up game before the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. Thus you can see, as the optimists may well tell you, that something good can still come out of a resounding defeat.

And yet, make no mistake, the BCCI is made up of intelligent people. That they should have so strongly refused to see what was best for India's Test team gives you an idea of priorities. The day the BCCI puts the quality of the national cricket team above everything else, India will give themselves the chance of remaining either at the top or very close to it.

Good things do happen, but they do so fairly sporadically. For example, there is a very good Indian Emerging Players team in Australia at the moment, but in spite of being world champions India have also allowed themselves to panic in team selection for the rest of this England tour.

I hope India don't have to reach the precipice in a few other very obvious matters. The Ranji Trophy is one of those. All logic would suggest that if the standard immediately below international cricket is high, the national team will automatically be strong. And yet we wilfully dilute the quality of our first-class cricket.

Here's a quick parallel. If India Cements (and I use the example only because Mr N Srinivasan runs a very good company) has to make the best cement, they will do what it takes to source the best raw material and use the finest production process. If they reduce the quality of their raw material, they cannot consistently make the best cement, even if the factories are very good.

Here is another business analogy (for producing a quality sports team is no different from manufacturing a fine product). Large multi-brand or multi-product corporations, say Hindustan Unilever or Procter & Gamble, or even, in a manner of speaking, Larsen & Toubro or Reliance, have a specific business plan for each brand. Even the smallest brand has a plan attached to it. A high-profile football team or a cricket team too is a collection of brands, each of which must have a caretaker and a plan. I am sure Alex Ferguson has a plan for each of his top 20-22 players. The plan for Rooney might be different from that or Ferdinand or Giggs, as indeed for a Young or a Smalling.

And so I would like to see specific dossiers put together for the top 25 Indian cricketers. These would almost be like medical files, with a history and a current diagnosis, and most important, a plan to get the best out of each of them. A dossier on Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma would require them to play as much cricket in different conditions as possible. Rahul Dravid's would be to get him into the best possible shape for the Tests against West Indies and Australia. An action plan for Irfan Pathan would find him a team in England and get him to bowl as much as possible. And given the paucity of multi-skilled cricketers, the message to the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association would be to bat R Ashwin at No. 6 as often as possible.

As India find themselves in the middle of a serious transition phase, it isn't only about Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman, but also about Zaheer Khan and maybe Harbhajan Singh. The replacements don't seem to be around. With great players there can never be adequate enough replacements, as the Australians are discovering, but that makes the need to have a well-defined plan for each cricketer even more crucial.

England started their recovery with the establishment of central contracts for key players, and that is a variation of the theme I am suggesting. Nasser Hussain says that was the single biggest factor in turning the England team around. Ideally the person putting together this plan should be the chairman of selectors, but if necessary, a committed, respected person could do it. If he has the time, Anil Kumble would be the best man for India.

In fact Kumble is fast discovering the power of being an administrator. As captain of India he asked for more warm-up games and was soundly rebuffed. As an administrator the same suggestion was immediately approved.

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

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Posted by   on (August 22, 2011, 19:22 GMT)

Harsha B or anyone interested in Dravid. maybe Saurav G. or his agent. Why can't the companies like India Cement and Tata Steel sponsor this man of steel for life. I say life because he has spent his life defending India. Standing tall or as the thickest Wall for his country. Can't some one in India see how great he is ? other than paying all attention to Sachin who is of course great. Dravid has given his all for India when others have failed including the great Sachin. So come on CEO's of India stand up for the man that is made of good metal' the man whose VALUES ARE STRONGER THAN STEEL. Stand up India Stand up for RAHUL DRAVID.

Posted by   on (August 22, 2011, 8:18 GMT)

Roobear2009, Can't agree more with you on this. Its our bowling that requires attention and repair. If our bowling would have changed places with the English, I doubt they would have done better than what we did.And I am surprised why its batting and batting alone that has to take the burden all the time. Just saying its historic and doing nothing is not the answer.

From the current crop, I am sorry to say Ishant though talented iis not a thinking one. Pravin Kumar is a thinking bowler but does not have the pace. And oflate Shreesanth neither thinks nor bowls with pace. Munaf is strictly a medium pacer. If we forget Zaheer, we have no body who is consistently threatening and this factor alone has decided this series and would decide future series.

Looking at immediate future, its difficult to make good line & length bowlers ball at pace. Rather than idea should be to find fast bowlers and train them to ball line & length at pace. So need to check - Aaron and Unadka

Posted by Rumy1 on (August 21, 2011, 20:05 GMT)

For that matter, amongst Virat, Rahane, Pujara, Raina, Rohit, Mukund, Manoj Tiwari and Badrinath, only PUJARA and BADRINATH look Test ready and complete players. They have require chnique, temperament and skill to face the best at international level. In copmpany of greats-Dravid/ Sachin/ Laxman I am sure they will blossom.Rohit has the maximum talent but needs to improve work ethic and discipline to reach there. Temperamentally and technically, Virat doesn't look suited for Tests. Virat and Raina are good fit for ODIS / T20s and they should be left at that. Rahane and Mukund have some potential but will probably have to slog it out for another couple of years to come up to the required level. BCCI can have some coach take Rohit, Rahane and Mukund into his wings and take care of their deficiencies. If some sense prevails I see Jaffer definitely walking into Test team in near future.Livewire Kaif surely deserves another chance at both Tests and ODI levels.Pujara also looks a certainty

Posted by Rumy1 on (August 21, 2011, 19:39 GMT)

I think we are placing a lot of money on future than the present and in the bargain we have messed up our present.To restore order in the present, we must bring back likes of Jaffer, Kaif and Badrinath in Test team by dropping likes of Raina, Mukund, Yuvraj, Rohit and Virat. These experienced guys are tested, still prolific andhave a few years left in them. On bowling side, Harbhajan and Ojha must be brought back. I don't agree with Harsha that R Ashwin is a Test level bowler. Bowling four overs in T20 and bowling 40-50 overs in Tests are two different things. Ashwin at present would qualify as a good county or Ranji level bowler. He has a long way to go. Munaf, Ishant and Sreesanth may be persisted with in Tests. Munaf must increase speed by a yard or two. Ishant is a special talent. Handle him with care. Sreesanth must develop consistency and improve his length. Irfan Pathan may be monitored for his fitness. Yuvraj, Raina, Kohli, Rohit and Praveen Kumar are good for ODI and T20s only

Posted by bestfit on (August 21, 2011, 9:27 GMT)

In my opinion the following Lineups looks appropriate. But have to train the youngsters and give them chances: Tests: 1) Virender Sehwag 2) Gautam gambhir(reserve: Abhinav Mukund) 3) Rahul Dravid( rep: C Pujara) 4) Sachin (rep: Ajinkya Rahane) 5) VVS Laxman (rep: Rohit Sharma/ Badrinath) 6) Suresh Raina( rep: Manoj Tiwary/ Virat Kohli) 7) MS Dhoni 8)Harbhajan 9)Zaheer 10)Ishant 11) Amit Mishra/ Abhimanyu Mithun

ODIs: 1) Gambhir 2)Sehwag 3)Yuvraj Singh 4) Suresh Raina 5) Virat Kohli 6) MS Dhoni(res: Parthiv Patel) 7)R Shwin 8) Iqbal Abdulla 8)Munaf Patel 9)RP Singh 10)Pankaj Singh/ Nehra 11)AT Rayudu/ Manish Pandey

T20I: 1)Irfan Pathan 2) Pragyan Ojha 3) R Ashwin 4) Rohit Sharma 5) Raina 6) Virat Kohli 7)Varun Aaron/Umesh Yadav/Vinay Kumar 8)Uthappa/Yusuf Pathan 9)Sehwag 10)Gambhir(res:Manoj Tiwary) 11) J Unadkat

Reserves need to be identified for Sehwag and Gambhir in ODI and T20 formats though Parthiv, M Vijay and D Karthik can cover to some extent. Appreciate your readin

Posted by bestfit on (August 21, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

Suggestion on Indian Bowling: 1) Harbhajan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Zaheer and Abhimanyu Mithun should be used only for Test cricket 2) R Ashwin, Iqbal Abdulla, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, Ashish Nehra, Vinay Kumar and Pankaj Singh can be used for ODI 3)Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and J Unadkat can be used in T20I.

Posted by bestfit on (August 21, 2011, 8:23 GMT)

Suggestions for Indian Batting: We should feel greatful to the indian greats Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly. But I think its right time to include some of the accomplished youngsters into the team and give them fair chances before these greats sign off. I think Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Chateswar Pujara and Rohit Sharma can become future fab4 given good number of opportunities. At the same time we should continue with likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni for couple of years. We can have Badrinath and Manoj Tiwary as backup options

Posted by Noboundary on (August 21, 2011, 2:28 GMT)

The bitter truth is that our system (by that I mean the BCCI, their skewed priorities and the individuals' attitude) turn the best talent into mediocre ones. Look at Munaf, Ishant, Irfan, .. they started with great potential .. now they are reduced to very pedestrian standards. I remember Malcolm Marshall toured Inda under Kallicharan and was just a talented medium pacer... in the next tour he blossomed into a fearsome tear away fast bowler. Munaf and Ishant had similar potential...now they are bowling at Kumble's speed. All our focus is on when SRT will make his 100th 100... not on how much it is costing the team. When somebody criticizes a player's performance people will invoke their past glory in defense. Honestly when the players are showered with money on the basis of past performance esp on Indian soil why should they bother to excel elsewhere? Other than Dravid and a few others who have not yet tasted "success" others are not motivated to perform.

Posted by suyog1973 on (August 21, 2011, 1:58 GMT)

For the next 5 - 10 years BCCI needs to focus on 2 areas - bowling (fast and spin) and fielding. India has and will always produce batsmen with excellent technique, temparament and hunger for runs.

Posted by CandidIndian on (August 21, 2011, 0:23 GMT)

After all this embarrassment for us (Indian fans) the salt on the wounds is advertisement of champions league and more to it is Gavaskar and Shastri endorsing it by saying it will be a great tournament etc .Harsha has made good points but is BCCI serious enough about test cricket ?This is a time of high crisis after team is badly exposed, its certainly not the time to play lucid cricket to get the fake appreciation.

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Harsha Bhogle Harsha Bhogle is one of the world's leading cricket commentators. Starting off as a chemical engineer and going on to work in advertising before moving into television, he is also a writer, quiz host, television presenter and talk-show host, and a corporate motivational speaker. He was voted Cricinfo readers' "favourite cricket commentator" in a poll in 2008, and one of his proudest possessions is a photograph of a group of spectators in Pakistan holding a banner that said "Harsha Bhogle Fan Club". He has commentated on nearly 100 Tests and more than 400 ODIs.

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