August 26, 2011

India need to sweat the small stuff

To start with, make fitness non-negotiable
  shares 90

India needs an enquiry into the defeat, not an inquisition, and it is not a difficult enquiry to conduct. Many journalists and former cricketers have done it already, and while some are admittedly more thoughtful than others, certain truths have emerged.

However, the basis of a successful enquiry is intent and subsequent action; and Indian cricket has traditionally been good at neither. Action assumes accountability, and that is a dreadful word for many.

I have often said that you become what you choose to become. Should there be a BCCI enquiry, it must begin with a fundamental question: what do we seek to be? If the idea is to be a profitable entity, the BCCI already is. If, however, the idea is to be the best cricket team in the world, then you must have the people and the structure that can take you there. Otherwise India will flirt with No. 1 but never own that position.

Traditionally Indian cricket has placed skill on a pedestal and attitude by the wayside. That seems to me to be the subcontinental way of doing things - even Bangladesh exhibit it. And so our part of the world tends to throw up people who can do some brilliant things but don't care too much about doing the smaller, more routine things. We are a batting country, then maybe a bowling country, and hardly, if ever, a fielding or fitness-driven one. You see, the newspapers and television channels don't report on fielding and fitness, and in any case those two aren't switches that can be flicked on for results. Attitude then becomes an individual pursuit not an institutional trait. A Dravid or a Tendulkar or a Kumble are products of individual values, and so they are willing to do the small things that allow them to become great.

In England, the team who did the small things better won. When you spend time on the small things, you are actually practising excellence. At key moments in the series India were a bowler or a batsman short, not because a truck had knocked them over but because they weren't fit. And it didn't matter to those selecting them that the players weren't fit. Both at Lord's and in Nottingham, India had the opportunity to win but didn't have a bowler when it mattered. Zaheer Khan shouldn't have been on the tour; his shape was a testament to that. Neither should Virender Sehwag or RP Singh have been on it.

The new England make some things non-negotiable, as the old Australia and the old West Indies did. Fitness is one of those. As an Indian player told me, fitness isn't about being able to get onto the park but about coming back after tea to bowl a solid six-over spell. To do that you must be strong and in rhythm, and to be strong and in rhythm you have to have trained and played.

In days gone by, English cricket sent players burdened by county workload to play Test matches. Predictably they didn't last, they weren't strong enough. But when Stuart Broad was bowling poorly against Sri Lanka he was sent off to play a four-day game for Nottinghamshire and told he had to bowl a lot and bowl a certain way. Instead of bowling short, as he was doing, he had to pitch it up and swing it. Knowledge alone wasn't enough, he had to bowl enough balls, which he did for his county. By the time he came to Lord's he was ready with a change in style. England could do that because they manage his workload. When Chris Tremlett had a niggle, he was left out, because England didn't want to be down to three bowlers. Somebody was taking tough decisions.

Indeed, England's renaissance is built around identifying a problem and doing what it takes to rectify it. They had fitness issues; now they have a state-of-the-art academy at Loughborough that monitors cricketers and requires them to submit themselves to tests at regular intervals. They have a fast-bowling coach with the power to summon bowlers from the pavilion if they aren't warming up before the start of play. And they chose not to pick their best spin-bowling allrounder, Samit Patel, because he disregarded instructions and wasn't fit enough. These messages travel.

India can do it too but not in the cozy democracy that exists today. If India's cricket establishment asks itself hard questions, and accepts the answers, India's climb back to the top could be quicker and their stay there more permanent.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 29, 2011, 21:17 GMT

    Harsha, India needs to plan immediate actions regarding fitness based on your article and several interesting comments provided on it. Take the case of injured players - Zaheer, Ishant, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag who are likely candidates to be in the Squad for Australia.I would insist on Zaheer losing at least 25 lbs. and do lot of conditioning exercises to be in the squad. There is no point in including someone in the squad if he is not fit.Gambhir's concussion has not been taken seriously. Harbhajan even if he is fit, does he deserve a chance on merit? Ishant should have undergone surgery now rather after the Australian tour. Yuvraj needs to get his weight down at least 25 lbs. Sehwag needs to get Dr.'s clearance on his shoulder + get his weight down by daily running for at least few miles.India suffered a humiliating defeat in England due to unfit guys in the team. Shouldn't BCCI & the selectors learn from this experience & implement immediate corrective actions ?

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | August 28, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    using the plan india used. england winning the world twenty/20 WC, we should have put all our eggs in 1 basket and put an ipl equivalent competiition run on smaller lines with less money ,but they did not down that avenue. for the last 20 and more years, test match cricket was always the more important to us than 1 day cricket, even though then we were not good at it. they say indian crcket fan love cricket more than others, which i believe to be wrong what they love is indian cricket so the ipl was always going to succed. i think the english are the best lovers of cricket we pay upwards of £100 to go to a lords game, and pay it 6 month before the game is played. see the ovation great cricketers get on any ground can u see KP getting the greeting in an away ground as say warne got at old trafford in 2005 when he got his i think his 400 wicket. i dont think so. dpk

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 28, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    @jay57870: I fully agree with most of your comments. India were straight away on their backfoot from the time the team was selected. To start with the 2 spinners should have been Ashwin & Rahul Sharma. Rahul is tall and bowls quick leg spinners a bit like chandra or Benaud. Because of his height he gets a good bounce and he is very accurate. Ashwin has a good doosra & a carrom ball. In English conditions these 2 would have been the best spinners.Secondly, the injuries are the result of players not keeping up their fitness levels.So it is critacal to remaining fit - no wonder the injuries finished off the team chances. Thirdly, the guys who were expected to perform never rose to the occasion like Dhoni, Gambhir & Raina in second innings if 4th test.India should have drawn at least 2 tests but lack of guts & determination resulted in defeats.Indian fielding was sloppy as well with numerous catches dropped. So India fell below "C" level in all departments of the game + physical fitness.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | August 28, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    (Cont) Not that the batting did not have letdowns. It did. Excepting the superb Dravid, the batsmen were sporadic and out of sync in an unsettled batting order. Still, I believe India has the best No.1-5 batsmen. And in Dhoni a cool captain. Most of us agree: It's the bowling that's the Achilles heel that needs to be strengthened. A practical fix: Go with 5 bonafide bowlers. In lieu of a No.6 batsman, pick a genuine spin bowler, preferably a leggie. Spinners like to hunt in pairs: Remember Kumble & Harbhajan. I also believe a healthy bowling squad, with Zaheer & Harbhajan in charge, is still capable of match-winning performances. After all, India could not have reached the top without bagging 20 wickets. We therefore have to adjust the batting/bowling mix. The selectors have their jobs cut out. You can bet the coaching staff and NCA (with Kumble) will be sweating it out too with the players. Rest assured, a healthy Team India will be ready to contend again for the top Test spot.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | August 28, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    (Cont) Still, don't let fitness issues hide two other deep-rooted flaws: the gaping holes in vital batting & bowling positions left void by the retired Ganguly & Kumble. Sourav's No.6 slot has not yet been filled by Yuvraj (age 29) or Raina (24), despite numerous chances. (Both are good fielders; so-so bowlers.) Likewise, Mishra (28) has fallen way short as a leg-spinner, not only in performance (3/320 in 2 innings) but also in preparation (13 no-balls for a slow bowler!). An already handicapped bowling attack lacked the closers/finishers to put away even the lower-order English batsmen. Raina & Yuvraj with their "lollipops" were smothered. Even the experienced Sreesanth (28), in Zaheer's absence, failed to lead and live up to the challenge. Result: Bowling breakdowns. England piled up huge scores in all Tests, putting an unsettled Indian team under duress. Any cricketer knows how hard it is to be playing from behind the whole game and to rally back, especially when batting last. TBC

  • POSTED BY bobbington7 on | August 28, 2011, 5:11 GMT

    Harsha you list Kumble along with Sachin and Dravid as a great player.A sensible cricketer lover knows the fact that Kumble never bowled well on normal pitches.He has always struggled on these pitches like Harbhajan struggled in England.He is called a spinner, who could not turn a cricket ball-funny!.

    Our cricketers should under go staunch diet and fitness regime.

    We are concentrating and focusing too much only on cricket,so naturally we should be far more superior to other cricketing countries-BUT??????.

  • POSTED BY bobbington7 on | August 28, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Harsha you list Kumble along with Sachin and Dravid as a great player.A sensible cricketer lover knows the fact that Kumble never bowled well on normal pitches.He has always struggled on these pitches like Harbhajan struggled in England.He is called a spinner, who could not turn a cricket ball-funny!.

    Our cricketers should under go staunch diet and fitness regime.

    We are concentrating and focusing too much only on cricket,so naturally we should be far more superior to other cricketing countries-BUT??????.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 28, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    While this article makes some good points, it's not by any means the whole story. England have a squad of good batsmen and bowlers, and while they have a program in place to try to allow each man to reach his potential, the potential has to be there in the first place. With the greatest respect to Kumar, who really exhibited spirit and desire to win, none of the Indian bowlers looked to have the capability to bowl out the England side twice. Yes, Zaheer turned up out of shape, but one bowler doesn't make a side. On the other hand, the legendary Indian batting line-up failed to make more than 300 in 8 innings, in games where England made 474-8, 544, 710-7 and 591-6. India have been the #1 side for a couple of years now and they didn't get bad suddenly. England are simply a very good side and have been building towards this position for years now. Much as the Indian fans hate to admit it, India were beaten by a better side and that's not going to be fixed by more fitness training.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | August 28, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    Harsha - You are right. But fitness is big stuff: It's the price of entry for any frontline cricketer. But first let's put India's Test problems in perspective: The continuous rash of injuries to key players - Zaheer, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag, Kumar - seriously impaired the team's performance. It was handicapped even before a ball was bowled. And it got worse with time. England was at its peak; India in an abyss. The rout was inevitable. Remember Murphy's Law: That anything that can go wrong, will. That said, it could have been mitigated with better team selection & preparation. Fitness is everyone's responsibility (selectors, coaches, players), starting with BCCI administrators: They have espoused this policy of allowing players to skip series voluntarily for "rest" purposes. Conversely then, as a matter of policy, they should disallow any players from playing if they're not 100% fit. Period. India already has a place to monitor players and enforce it: The NCA. (TBC)

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 27, 2011, 23:25 GMT

    Almost every Indian coach starting from Chapell to Kirsten stated that thefitness levels in the Indiancricketers is poor. On top of that when the Cricketers take a long break due to some physical problem with their limbs, they do not focus on diet & exercise at all. As a result you see Zaheer & Sehwag showing up grossly over weight & with pounches to the England test series. Fitness really starts with an individual and his work ethics to remain in shape.I see people in Western world(incl. myself) jogging or doing work outs in the Gyms. daily for a certain stipulated time. Many elderly walk 4 miles per day at brisk pace So it is in the national culture. Cricketers must be given a daily mandatory work out schedule when they are on the disabled list, to be followed at specific locations under supervision. This is the only way to enforce this fitness schedule which has to be individualized. Mandating fitness with goals to measure fitness level is the way to produce fit Cricketers.

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 29, 2011, 21:17 GMT

    Harsha, India needs to plan immediate actions regarding fitness based on your article and several interesting comments provided on it. Take the case of injured players - Zaheer, Ishant, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag who are likely candidates to be in the Squad for Australia.I would insist on Zaheer losing at least 25 lbs. and do lot of conditioning exercises to be in the squad. There is no point in including someone in the squad if he is not fit.Gambhir's concussion has not been taken seriously. Harbhajan even if he is fit, does he deserve a chance on merit? Ishant should have undergone surgery now rather after the Australian tour. Yuvraj needs to get his weight down at least 25 lbs. Sehwag needs to get Dr.'s clearance on his shoulder + get his weight down by daily running for at least few miles.India suffered a humiliating defeat in England due to unfit guys in the team. Shouldn't BCCI & the selectors learn from this experience & implement immediate corrective actions ?

  • POSTED BY bumsonseats on | August 28, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    using the plan india used. england winning the world twenty/20 WC, we should have put all our eggs in 1 basket and put an ipl equivalent competiition run on smaller lines with less money ,but they did not down that avenue. for the last 20 and more years, test match cricket was always the more important to us than 1 day cricket, even though then we were not good at it. they say indian crcket fan love cricket more than others, which i believe to be wrong what they love is indian cricket so the ipl was always going to succed. i think the english are the best lovers of cricket we pay upwards of £100 to go to a lords game, and pay it 6 month before the game is played. see the ovation great cricketers get on any ground can u see KP getting the greeting in an away ground as say warne got at old trafford in 2005 when he got his i think his 400 wicket. i dont think so. dpk

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 28, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    @jay57870: I fully agree with most of your comments. India were straight away on their backfoot from the time the team was selected. To start with the 2 spinners should have been Ashwin & Rahul Sharma. Rahul is tall and bowls quick leg spinners a bit like chandra or Benaud. Because of his height he gets a good bounce and he is very accurate. Ashwin has a good doosra & a carrom ball. In English conditions these 2 would have been the best spinners.Secondly, the injuries are the result of players not keeping up their fitness levels.So it is critacal to remaining fit - no wonder the injuries finished off the team chances. Thirdly, the guys who were expected to perform never rose to the occasion like Dhoni, Gambhir & Raina in second innings if 4th test.India should have drawn at least 2 tests but lack of guts & determination resulted in defeats.Indian fielding was sloppy as well with numerous catches dropped. So India fell below "C" level in all departments of the game + physical fitness.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | August 28, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    (Cont) Not that the batting did not have letdowns. It did. Excepting the superb Dravid, the batsmen were sporadic and out of sync in an unsettled batting order. Still, I believe India has the best No.1-5 batsmen. And in Dhoni a cool captain. Most of us agree: It's the bowling that's the Achilles heel that needs to be strengthened. A practical fix: Go with 5 bonafide bowlers. In lieu of a No.6 batsman, pick a genuine spin bowler, preferably a leggie. Spinners like to hunt in pairs: Remember Kumble & Harbhajan. I also believe a healthy bowling squad, with Zaheer & Harbhajan in charge, is still capable of match-winning performances. After all, India could not have reached the top without bagging 20 wickets. We therefore have to adjust the batting/bowling mix. The selectors have their jobs cut out. You can bet the coaching staff and NCA (with Kumble) will be sweating it out too with the players. Rest assured, a healthy Team India will be ready to contend again for the top Test spot.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | August 28, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    (Cont) Still, don't let fitness issues hide two other deep-rooted flaws: the gaping holes in vital batting & bowling positions left void by the retired Ganguly & Kumble. Sourav's No.6 slot has not yet been filled by Yuvraj (age 29) or Raina (24), despite numerous chances. (Both are good fielders; so-so bowlers.) Likewise, Mishra (28) has fallen way short as a leg-spinner, not only in performance (3/320 in 2 innings) but also in preparation (13 no-balls for a slow bowler!). An already handicapped bowling attack lacked the closers/finishers to put away even the lower-order English batsmen. Raina & Yuvraj with their "lollipops" were smothered. Even the experienced Sreesanth (28), in Zaheer's absence, failed to lead and live up to the challenge. Result: Bowling breakdowns. England piled up huge scores in all Tests, putting an unsettled Indian team under duress. Any cricketer knows how hard it is to be playing from behind the whole game and to rally back, especially when batting last. TBC

  • POSTED BY bobbington7 on | August 28, 2011, 5:11 GMT

    Harsha you list Kumble along with Sachin and Dravid as a great player.A sensible cricketer lover knows the fact that Kumble never bowled well on normal pitches.He has always struggled on these pitches like Harbhajan struggled in England.He is called a spinner, who could not turn a cricket ball-funny!.

    Our cricketers should under go staunch diet and fitness regime.

    We are concentrating and focusing too much only on cricket,so naturally we should be far more superior to other cricketing countries-BUT??????.

  • POSTED BY bobbington7 on | August 28, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Harsha you list Kumble along with Sachin and Dravid as a great player.A sensible cricketer lover knows the fact that Kumble never bowled well on normal pitches.He has always struggled on these pitches like Harbhajan struggled in England.He is called a spinner, who could not turn a cricket ball-funny!.

    Our cricketers should under go staunch diet and fitness regime.

    We are concentrating and focusing too much only on cricket,so naturally we should be far more superior to other cricketing countries-BUT??????.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 28, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    While this article makes some good points, it's not by any means the whole story. England have a squad of good batsmen and bowlers, and while they have a program in place to try to allow each man to reach his potential, the potential has to be there in the first place. With the greatest respect to Kumar, who really exhibited spirit and desire to win, none of the Indian bowlers looked to have the capability to bowl out the England side twice. Yes, Zaheer turned up out of shape, but one bowler doesn't make a side. On the other hand, the legendary Indian batting line-up failed to make more than 300 in 8 innings, in games where England made 474-8, 544, 710-7 and 591-6. India have been the #1 side for a couple of years now and they didn't get bad suddenly. England are simply a very good side and have been building towards this position for years now. Much as the Indian fans hate to admit it, India were beaten by a better side and that's not going to be fixed by more fitness training.

  • POSTED BY jay57870 on | August 28, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    Harsha - You are right. But fitness is big stuff: It's the price of entry for any frontline cricketer. But first let's put India's Test problems in perspective: The continuous rash of injuries to key players - Zaheer, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag, Kumar - seriously impaired the team's performance. It was handicapped even before a ball was bowled. And it got worse with time. England was at its peak; India in an abyss. The rout was inevitable. Remember Murphy's Law: That anything that can go wrong, will. That said, it could have been mitigated with better team selection & preparation. Fitness is everyone's responsibility (selectors, coaches, players), starting with BCCI administrators: They have espoused this policy of allowing players to skip series voluntarily for "rest" purposes. Conversely then, as a matter of policy, they should disallow any players from playing if they're not 100% fit. Period. India already has a place to monitor players and enforce it: The NCA. (TBC)

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 27, 2011, 23:25 GMT

    Almost every Indian coach starting from Chapell to Kirsten stated that thefitness levels in the Indiancricketers is poor. On top of that when the Cricketers take a long break due to some physical problem with their limbs, they do not focus on diet & exercise at all. As a result you see Zaheer & Sehwag showing up grossly over weight & with pounches to the England test series. Fitness really starts with an individual and his work ethics to remain in shape.I see people in Western world(incl. myself) jogging or doing work outs in the Gyms. daily for a certain stipulated time. Many elderly walk 4 miles per day at brisk pace So it is in the national culture. Cricketers must be given a daily mandatory work out schedule when they are on the disabled list, to be followed at specific locations under supervision. This is the only way to enforce this fitness schedule which has to be individualized. Mandating fitness with goals to measure fitness level is the way to produce fit Cricketers.

  • POSTED BY zico123 on | August 27, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    IPL is spoiloing indian youngsters, they are going for huge money on offer at IPL, hence only praticing big shots to become a good T20 player, and not practicing playing for long hours, concentration to become a good test cricketer. IPL and Champions League..too much T20 is killing India's Test cricket. BCCI still don't care, all they care about, is profit.

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2011, 20:23 GMT

    I think too much cricket is to blame..BCCI should realise that..The IPL is unecessary for starters...Having said that we must remember that this was the team that won us the World Cup a few months back & gave us moments to cherish..so we must not bay for their blood after 1 series defeat no matter how bad it may be & realise that victory & defeat are a quentissential part of sport

  • POSTED BY unbiasedfan on | August 27, 2011, 15:17 GMT

    The question to ask is why players get unfit. It is reasonable to say it is because of too much cricket. Now which part of too much cricket can be easily shelved - the IPL for starters. While shelving the IPL itself will not raise fitness standards it will go a long way in ensuring that players play less but important cricket thereby reducing the probabilit of injuries. The second is mindless scheduling with the aim being nothing maximising the Board's coffers. By mindless cricket I mean pointless one day cricket - case in point after 5 ODI's against England, India are again going to play 10 ODI's with England and West Indies. Is this not pointless overkill with the aim only being profits. Why cannot the team play just 5 ODI or even only 3 ODI's (given the weak opposition that is the West Indies) against West Indies? These are the questions journalists and other commentators should be asking rather than indulging in feel good generalities.

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 27, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    Harsha, You rightly say "Make fitness non-negotiable". But how do you define & implement "fitness" in a Nation that is sold on "Namebrands". The name brands of Dhoni & Tendulkar make over $50 Million/year in endorsements alone. Also if fitness is non negotiable very few of the current Indian team will be in it.How fit are the" Fab 3". Dravid might be but Sachin & VVS are having problems with their fitness all the time. Yuvraj, Harbhajan, RP, Sree, Ishant, Kumar, Gambhir, Sehwag have all had fitness problemson an on going basis. Secondly how do you assess fitness on an on going basis for these cricketers who will claim that they are playing continuous cricket year round? The culture of fitness starts at the school level. I suggest all cricketer must have a 100M time of around 11 seconds. This should apply to the entire team - FAB 3 or Not.Except maybe Raina & Kohli, the rest of the Indian team is ruled out on this basis alone. So define what fitness Stds. before making it mandatory.

  • POSTED BY mogan707 on | August 27, 2011, 14:16 GMT

    Team India has been selected according to reputation and not fitness and form.Duncan Fletcher pointed out the importance of form when he meant Rohit Sharma would have been included in the West indies test series.Simply put together form, fitness and good practice must be there for a high profile series.It started with disunity in the team when Harbhajan's lawyer filed a case against advertisement featuring Dhoni.By selecting Sehwag the selectors has sent a wrong signal regarding the fitness one more time.Dhoni, selectors and the whole team has to take responsibility first.Make the players play a four day game to prove their fitness after they come from rehabilitation.These are my points of view. This article covered all the issues.

  • POSTED BY zeuszeus on | August 27, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    Nothing more to add. India got IPLed!

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2011, 5:50 GMT

    An eye-opening article, let the cricket administrators read it and take action on that,

  • POSTED BY on | August 27, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    sir...its very hard thing to say but thats reality that like an old story....bcci want to get all eggs in a single day..and in that attempt they r killing the hen..nobody dares to say but they r more interested in IPL ..most of times we win due to some brriant indiviual performances..and wins which r due to some team effort or good management..we can count on fingers..

  • POSTED BY thisgameislife on | August 27, 2011, 3:02 GMT

    batting - why do we fall back after one half-hearted attempt at change? be it mukund, kohli, pujara, etc. if we allow them to become heroes in t20 and not give them chance to fail and find their feet in tests. we should persist with raina as well. the more they fail in public eye more effort they will put in instead of lounging on t20 success. bowling - do not let bowlers go into the freezer. get them on central contracts and keep them playing in the first class divisions (home, sa, aus, eng, wherever possible). an unfit bowler will not win tests because he had 300-400 wickets in previous matches. and fitness is not in the gym, but in getting the bowling muscles worked out on the field day after day after day. fielding - if you qualify to get into the team due to your batting/bowling talent, you should still lose your place to some one slightly less talented, but more committed to fielding. every catch and run-out missed makes it harder for the team on batting and bowling front anyway.

  • POSTED BY Afgunz4Lyfe on | August 27, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    Very well said Harsha, i totally agree with you unfortunately in our part of the world; the subcontinent; this type of change is easier said then done. Its embedded in our blood and culture, changing it would mean changing one's whole life but it is necessary if one wants to be great and stay great for a long time..

  • POSTED BY Gizza on | August 27, 2011, 0:52 GMT

    Fitness affects fielding. More catches are dropped and there are more mis-fields/less dives so the batting side gets more runs. Fitness affects fast bowling. Imagine if Praveen Kumar, Ishant and Sreesanth were ALL just 5 km/h faster on average. A small increase in speed (even with no improvement in swing or accuracy) makes a difference in terms of wicket-taking ability. If these bowlers had less fat and more muscle they could bowl better bouncers. Fitness also affects running between the wickets. In Tests, ODI's and T20's, India relies on more on boundaries than the non-subcontinental teams because they can't run as fast. Also now with the rule change for runners, the subcontinental batsmen can' use runners for cramps anymore. Fit and strong players don't get injured 3 times a year like Zaheer, Sehwag and Gambhir. So yes fitness matters.

  • POSTED BY indianpunter on | August 27, 2011, 0:46 GMT

    ability, commitment and fitness. these should be non negotiable. make test cricket a priority. BCCI should understand that if the crowd stays away, the coffers will empty out. time for some far sighted thinking, something foreign to the powers that be.

  • POSTED BY SaravananIsTheBest on | August 26, 2011, 22:20 GMT

    Adding to that, Playing for Country is like WAR itself, you're expected to be a warrior to fight long and strong, not to be a stand-in comediyan for a short period. In that sense hats off to Dravid, Sachin, Kumble, Srinath, Kapil, Dhoni, Raina, Kohli, Ishant etc...

  • POSTED BY SaravananIsTheBest on | August 26, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    Interesting/Important point is, "Traditionally Indian cricket has placed skill on a pedestal and attitude by the wayside", sadly lots of Indian players fit into these. Likes of Yuvi, Zak, Rohit, Bhajji, Irfan and RP etc. Yuvi is recovering out of the league, rest of them its upto them :|

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 20:47 GMT

    Greceful retirement is very much a part of a glorious career.Time to tell some players loud and clear...

  • POSTED BY MaruthuDelft on | August 26, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    Harsha misses a very important point; star fielder need apply! Fitness alone can't guarantee results. If India wants to be respected within the next 10 years as a test playing nation it can do it only through everyone of its field like Jonty Rhodes. India can't produce quality fast bowlers quickly. India will somehow find 2 more world class batsmen but Faster Taller bowlers and Fielding is what they should concentrate on. Aggressive Fielding like Jonty really gets into batsmen's mind and they would get out soon.

  • POSTED BY NairUSA on | August 26, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    Now, nobody wants to support Team India! It is true that failure drives away friends. instead of blaming on everything from culture to physique, try to find the positives that had worked for Team India - like batting strength, non threatening but wily bowling and persistence. If these elements can be brought back, India can be major contenders again. It might be foolhardy to start blindly copying other teams' success formula as it will fit only their needs.

  • POSTED BY ajaykarwa on | August 26, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    The future of Indian test cricket team is in dark. Within a period of 6 months or may be an year, Tendulkar and Dravid would wave a good-bye. Also, the Indian fast-bowling department looks very fragile. With no Zaheer at most of the times, and Harbhajan low in confidence because of poor recent performances, India would have tough time bowling the opposition out twice.

  • POSTED BY cricketsage on | August 26, 2011, 18:54 GMT

    Zaheer was clearly overweight when he started first Test. As he probably knew he hadn't trained since world cup, but didn't bother telling the selectors. This shows an unprofessional attitude. As Harsha points out, a number of Indian players should not have been selected based on fitness alone. Given these guys are extremely talented but someone does have to run between the wickets and after the ball. You cannot rely on stroke play alone to make runs. Also running after the ball for 2 straight days leaves you dog tired to play a good innings. Dravid really put the much younger players to shame in this series. In my opinion, Yuvraj is really overrated as a Test batsman. T20 and one day, yes but definitely not a Test player. Gambhir is a tenacious opener. Tendulkar should now consider retiring. Apart from his 100th century, he has all the records and playing another few series to attain that goal would cement his place as one who played for records not the team.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | August 26, 2011, 16:09 GMT

    How long we going to repeat indian bowlers have fitness issues. How many times we see new indian bowlers comes with all eneregy in frst year and fissles away. There is a scoientific reason for it. When bowler comes first , he wanted to showoff first. His knee is strong. He bowled everything he got then knee buckles he slows down.Knee need regular heavy gym muscle buiding exercize. I doubt any indian bowler follow shoaib akthar style routine. Shoaib akthar made like a trucke still he got injured. if you want to continue bowling , you have to bowl at 70% of your limit. That means indian biwllers can bowl around 110-120. Lack of muslces in leg and shoulder is cause of all the injury. India lost because of lack of skills in bowling department. It may look india did not bat well but same india would have won against england in first two tests if indian bowlers had the ability to take out england tail. After first 2 test , india got blown out in both bowling and batting. change is a must.

  • POSTED BY CricketExpertUSA on | August 26, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    I think many readers and journalists are ignoring some reality. I have not seen many complain about the unfair manner in which Mukund (a youngster) was dropped because of 3 bad innings. Mukund was not great but gave 40 odd runs in several games and even when he lost the wicket, he gave a few runs. Sehwag has been a disaster in this tour. If he was not fit, I wish he had told Dhoni that Mukund should be in, not him. But, no, we cannot raise a finger against the big names. That is the problem. You have to select a team to win-one game at a time. I saw Seeesanth blasted but Ishant Sharma was very poor. I saw Kohli and Jaffer not treated well. But, no, we have to have Ghambir even if he is not healthy. Hope some lessons are learnt. Praghyan Ojha was there but not included. It is not hard to include Ashwin instead of Bhaji. They did not do it. Amazing how Mukund has been declared a failure allready. Goes to show why youngsters are not encouraged.

  • POSTED BY Idea-Man on | August 26, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    So it all comes down to reviews and assessment of the tour performance. What about a report on the selection process involved by the selection committee, specifically why certain players were selected when they were not match fit etc. And as Harsha suggests, they require some one more strict in disciplining the players, I mean who would have the guts to call up Zaheer off the practice if he isn't bowling according to the team plan, or who would dare to ask Harbhajan to bowl to a certain speed and line and length etc. I mean, come on, you know what happened when someone tried to do that - remember Mr. Chappell

  • POSTED BY Sanath-aiyya on | August 26, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    The only FIT indian cricketer - was AAMIR KHAN in Lagaan LOL

  • POSTED BY there_or_thereabouts on | August 26, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    Excellent analysis. When I first saw Zaheer Khan in this series, I thought he was an injury waiting to happen. And when I first saw Sehwag trudge out to bat, I thought he must have been wearing an extra-small helmet, as his face/head seemed to be swelling out to occupy most of the space in there... Both unacceptably fat and unfit in 5-day test cricket, a game that punishes failings like these mercilessly.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    And the hald fit Zaheer managed to get 3 wickets within the 12 overs he bowled in the first test... better than 50 overs bowled by others..

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    Sachin, Laxman and Dravid will be around for another two to three years. But within those years, it is Vital that India starts the change of gaurd process. Blood in Badrinath and Pujara immediately and send Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Raina to play county cricket immediately. This should be enforced by the board. Duncan Fletcher knows how to improve technique. Get Paddy upton and a better bowling coach.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    Is this the same Harsha Bhogle who said even half-fit sehwag should be selected even it is for 2 tests?

  • POSTED BY CricketChat on | August 26, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    As long as IPL rules in Ind, there is no hope of significant changes. Everyone, players and BCCI, wants to ride the IPL wave. With T20s destined to be the future of cricket due their popularity, where is the incentive to instil all the things Harsha mentioned here?

  • POSTED BY Kothandaram on | August 26, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    Nice article. emphasis needs to be laid on fitness of players. what is the point in sending half-fit players on important tours. Take the case of sehwag, he was rushed after the Indians were hammered in the first two tests and he came a cropper. subsequently, he is out of the ODIs due to some other problem. If we can't have one of our best players in the National XI most of the time, then something is wrong, somewhere. also, the BOARD needs to have specialists to check and clear players who are returning from injuries. if players are found not measuring up to fitness levels, they should be dropped or spoken to... the Test series loss in england must serve as a wake-up call for the Indians and they need to get back the focus

  • POSTED BY 512fm on | August 26, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    Yep, I would say fitness was the most important factor/difference between the two sides

  • POSTED BY Herath-UK on | August 26, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Yes there has to be an inquiry but when something staring into your eyes you may not need a grand scale inquiry;see what happened to both Sri Lankan and Indian stars;Mahela,Sanga,Dilshan & others opted out to play in the IPL and landed in England a week before,Sanga got more than two tests to find his feet and Mahela never found his.Shewag probably postponed his surgery until late into his IPL ,so was probably the case with Khan and a very tired Dhoni and Sachin,Raina etc came after their very heavy commitments in IPL where they had to go for its glory.Whatever measures implemented,we 've to understand players are only human and need a good period of rest; and as fans we do not like international games reduced so the best scenario is to curtail heavily the IPL commitments. Why not exclude all current twelve test players from all countries from the IPL;of course its will have its repurcussions and stars objection but good for the country. Ranil Herath -Kent

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    I pressed Ctrl + F and typed in IPL, I got only two hits that too written by a reader. It shows how we people don't want to see the real reason (for our own happiness sake), be it players or commentators...

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 11:48 GMT

    Well, the Indians have never been good on the field. If we have to pay for watching them then they must be in top physical health. Did you see them fielding?Sloppy lot- boycott the home oned dayers.

  • POSTED BY PG65 on | August 26, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    Harsha as usual an incisive & persuasive article on the need for top level fitness. However with the type of people running Indian cricket I can't see that being implemented. Our administrators are unfit blokes with short term vision so they tend to acknowledge skill rather than fitness. But I see some of the young guns like Kohli, Rohit Sharma etc. a lot fitter which suggests that they could give a run for the others who take their fitness lightly. It is the bowlers who need to be monitored more closely as their levels of fitness have to be a notch or two higher than batsmen as fast bowling is a much more demanding activity. I think the time has come that you primarily have to be an athlete first & then a cricketer. Fielding is integral & a key constituent of the game & those who miss it should sit out or play club cricket only. Only the fittest should move ahead & be considered for national selection & not on the basis of their star rating. Only then will Indian cricket rise.

  • POSTED BY Geeva on | August 26, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    IPL to be blamed,making ordinary players into stars like Lara,ganguly etc.IPL is not needed!!India wont be in the test playoff next year if the curren situatuin continues

  • POSTED BY Paul.Power on | August 26, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    sinfuldips: "We didn't lose the series because we misfielded or dropped catches, we lost because we didn't bat for more than a day and couldn't get 20 wickets." Maybe if you'd held on to those catches, you'd have taken 20 wickets?

    zain29: Sometimes the big things are too big to work on straight away. You can't just produce a good bowling attack from nowhere (although I like Kumar and Sharma, I think they had a good attitude). But if you do the small things first, it gets easier to fix the big things later. You have to look at the mantras of sides like the Zimbabwe and South Africa ones of the 90s: "you can always improve your fielding."

  • POSTED BY demon_bowler on | August 26, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    I am glad to see many Indian fans still remaining complacent, or even scornful, about the need for fitness and practice. If this attitude persists among the team as well, India will never return to the pinnacle of test cricket.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 26, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    @blondeblackberry, yes we do value the Ashes over the WC trophy, for one reason the ashes has more history than the WC, and its a 125 year old grudge match between the two original Test nations. The ECB's aims were primarily to become the top rated test team in world cricket, something they have achieved and now they are looking towards the WC in 2015, which has resulted in them re-arranging the Ashes so that it doesnt occur in a WC year in order to aviod future burn outs.

  • POSTED BY MJLRGS on | August 26, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    Well said Mr. Bhogle. India have some brilliant batsmen and great bowlers, but they came to the series completely unprepared, and their fitness is certainly not up to a number 1 team standard. This is a lesson for India, and hopefully a lesson well learned.

  • POSTED BY eoinsmith001 on | August 26, 2011, 10:06 GMT

    The comments section for this article is proof, if needed, why India can't and won't be the number 1 team for any considerable period. Even in the immediate aftermath of such a comprehensive thrashing, there are still plenty of posters saying that "skill is the ultimate priority", and "bowlers lost the series". First off, nobody doubts that Tendulkar, Sehwag and Dhoni have skill... so why have they been beaten from pillar to post in England? For the second point, why couldn't India score more than 300 in 8 completed innings, when England managed such a score in four out of six innings? Because of their bowlers? India have problems in so many areas that it's important not to get confused. Their bowling is understocked and inadequate, and their batsmen are currently unreliable and prone to surrender. The support, monitoring and preparation structures around the team are clearly deficient.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    @Prasad Pai..thats just load of rubbish from you. Its got nothing to do with Australia/England cant produce batsman like India. Its because of passion. 1 billion cricket lovers would definitely produce some sort of talent. It is exactly like Brasil in football producing world class players because of such craze in that sport from such a young age. Its simple as that. Indians dont want to do the hardwork and rely on their talents alone.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Very nicely put Harsha. Cricket is a skill game, but all sports are. Yes there is being 'cricket fit', which is synonymous with practise, but there is also simply being fit, physically and mentally. The Indians aren't. You'll often hear coaches talk about '3 dimensional cricketers', those that can bat, bowl and field. Now of course we're unlikely to see Andrew Strauss turning his arm over any time soon, but it is the attitude that counts. How many times in the last 18 months have England been 6 or 7 down only to be carted all around the park by the bowlers? The attitude that 'I'm only here to bowl' does wash any more. It's not about talent; it is about hard work. The Indians simply don't work hard enough. I remember Viv Richards once saying that people used to turn up in their hundreds if not thousands just to watch the WI's go through their fielding drills. Why? Because the intensity was so great that it was actually entertaining. India could learn a lesson there.

  • POSTED BY bluebillion on | August 26, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    I agree with Arindam - the more glaring question is where is the skill? We cannot take a group of superfit average cricketers and have a number 1 team! There is a glaring lack of skill in batting, bowling and obviously fielding. Today we talk about replacements of Sachin, VVS and Rahul being nowhere in site. Does anyone notice that we havent been able to find a replacement for Sourav Ganguly at number 6 - the least technically sound of the big 4 - in 3 years? How can we even hope to replace the other three. And the bowling ofcourse - I cant see Zak lasting for too many test matches now. Who is going to lead the attack? Ishant has skill but not the consistency or temperament. PK is just too slow to keep troubling test level batsmen. Bhajji is past his prime. Varun Aaron is being over hyped. Having seen him bowl in the IPL and the Duleep Trophy I can say that he is brisk. His problem again is skill - he has neither swing nor the Srinath / Ishant type incutter. Gloomy. Thats what it is.

  • POSTED BY KK37male on | August 26, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    Most of the so called experts have been saying that India was not prepared for this tour, not enough practice games, IPL, blah blah....

    Even if there weren't enough practice games, they had enough practice playing the first test match. They should have improved for the second test match which they didn't. Even if the first test practice was not enough, then they practiced playing the second test match and so on...till the 4th test. So, it's obvious that preparation was not an issue and can be ruled out.

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | August 26, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    Reading these comments from Indian fans makes me nostalgic! So many of you seem to think that fitness is a matter for the individual and that is what English cricket used to be like a while back. Every county side would have a fitness-freak (a revealing phrase with a connotation of 'odd') or two, and another group who were distinct tubbies and would be sources of amusement in the field. Cricket then was not looked upon as an athletic pursuit; it was all about skill, wasn't it? Such sentiments are echoed by@ Ameya Kundergrami. He couldn't be more wrong! This is the age of high intensity, relentless preparation which places a real emphasis on fitness, besides developing specialist skills for bowlers and ensuring that everyone can hold a bat and can contribute.( Did England have a tail this summer?) The side is skilled, focussed and extremely fit. An injured player is rested. A player short of the fitness standard isn't even considered for selection. All this sets a tone and pays off!

  • POSTED BY DilipR on | August 26, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    Couldn't agree with you more on BCCI and India becoming what they seek out to be. and relying more on strengths which is skill, but not focussing on weaknesses i.e an attitude of clinical discipline and focus, esp. whn opposition wants to dominate. the problem clearly is there was no solid back up opener or strike bowler for Sehwag and Zaheer, hence the pressure maybe to push them to play. the 'pool' of talent should be better prepared to face big challenges whn required instead of gently and cautiously blending them in as we see now. they have shown they have the attitude to take on the best in limited overs cricket, its about tuning their temperment a bit for tests, then India need worry no more about staying No.1 for longer.. but defnitely the BCCI needs to immediately address the issue of amount of cricket, and aim less about being a profitable entity and more about being the 'nurturer' of the No.1 team.

  • POSTED BY blondblackberry on | August 26, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    i don't know when england lose like india has what wil they do?complain ab't "strict guodelines" or reform the system again,stop counties let's play ipl like that?also in the world cup they lost key players on fitness issues what is that then?so, they value ashes over worldcup then they wil never win one.issue is nothing went well with india so they lost it.isn't that england for last 14 odi's in india won just one what that it means for england i don't know.don't follow english is my humble opinion.

  • POSTED BY Vnott on | August 26, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    Harsha made a terrific point in a previous article - create dossiers for each player and have a plan for the top 25 cricketers. Then we will have backups for injuries and also a plan to get them to perform well in all conditions. Auto mode we will see the results. We also need to realize that the key issue in this case has been the lack of a stable team in England. We need 3 of Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman to fire in each game and that has been the case in the last 6 + years. We only had Dravid put his hand up in this series and Sehwag, Gambhir were not available half of the time. Sachin and Laxman were off colour. Add Zaheer, Praveen, Yuvraj, Harbhajhan to the injury list, we had a musical chair of injured players .....so much so Raina was playing all 4 tests inspite of being a complete failure... No backups, no options... If we get them back to shape and give Virat, Rohit, Badri, Aaron, Ashwin chances.... Aussie series shd be a good opportunity to rebuild...

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | August 26, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    @ Arindam Kundagrami. At this level, winning is everything. If it wan't, they wouldn't keep score. Well written Harsha, nothing surprising, the majority of readers knew this was going to happen (or should have). The day of the roly poly cricketers are past. Sustained excellence in the field makes up for a lot for less talented people and there are plenty of examples of it out there currently.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | August 26, 2011, 8:08 GMT

    Its a fine balancing act between fitness and skills, yes skills can get you into the team, but fitness cements yuor place you cant have one with out the other. However there is another aspect, playing for the team, even if that means sacrificing your own goals, Prior is a good example of this, if hes come in with England well set he throws the bat to get quick runs, if he comes in with not many on the board, he plays more cautiously then accelerates when things are steadyier or hes running out of partners. Fielding is another area, during the Edgbaston Test, KP let a ball run for 4 off Broad to keep the batsman on strike, Broad simply rolled his eyes and shook his head, but didnt start laying into KP, becuase he knew that it gave his bowling partner a chance at knocking over a fresh batsman.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    @muchmore: I expect you your Tongue firmly in your cheek! To some to paraphrase Bill Shankley 'cricket is not a question of life and death,it's more important than that'.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    I think Rahul Dravid made a great point recently that its high time B.C.C.I uses its clout to fix its domestic season, during the Ranji season the Indian team team should not be on tours, we should be inviting teams to come and play as England and Australia does, once the domestic season is fixed the board can then go about ensuring other aspects like fitness, blooding youngsters, creating bench strength, only the very best succeed at first in alien conditions like Gavskar in WI, Saurav and Dravid in England, most others at least in tests should be given their debut in India.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    I wouldn't agree with the basic proposal of this article. Cricket IS a game of skill. And we need to nurture, support skilled players. Test cricket is not a game of mediocrity, or simple hard work. You need talent, and if somebody has got talent, you need to support him to a certain extent (a reasonable fitness regime is acceptable, not an army-like one). And yes, it's still a game. People watch it. And players need to entertain people. Winning is NOT everything. It's the effort, it's the magic. It's the fight. Take a poll, and you'll see less people remember that India lost (or drew) the 1999 Pakistan series than they remember Sachin played an unbelievable knock in Chennai.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    very well put as usual. in india we never try to get in to the roots of any problem. always go for temp solutions. what we saw in the england series was most of the players were mentaly not present there. while england were right there. unfit or even half fit players should have been left out. we pressed the panic button too early. by playing sehwag we gave the messaga to the mukunds in the country that 40% fit sehwag is better than 100% fit mukund/murali vijay. national sides should not miss individuals. but we missed zaheer,sehwag,gambhir etc. we give youngsters chance keeping a sword at their neck and when they fail we kick them out permantly. like agarkar,tinu yohanan, jeckob martin,vijay bhardwaj, debang gandhi,sadagopan ramesh,amit bhandari,avishkar salvi,msk prasad,kanitkar,deep das gupta,ajay ratra,sharandeep singh,debashish mohanty,ameya khurasia (who was in the world cup team of 99 did not play a game in the world cup and was never picked again_)

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Harsha, you have a spot on assessment, Indian team and the board must take tough decision. First among those must be an enquiry into the way Sachin played and accessing if we expect him to be around for another 4 years, in 4 years he would be 42 and Dhoni 30+ and many young 26 year old 30+, this means that in the next 4 years we will play a old man and get rid of a young man who may get things done for us. Secondly, there must be a way to get tours started with ODI first and test second, this way new talent found during ODI and those in form can be easily moved to the test scene, you always go from step 1 to step 10 not the other way round.

  • POSTED BY sohaibahmad on | August 26, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    whatever anyone says, the same trend will continue, maybe a little change for a short while and then back to the same old policy or lack of it

  • POSTED BY praveenkp78 on | August 26, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    The problem what I see in Indian players is their body language. I am definitely sure that in the current team that toured England, all the players barring few (Dravid, Sach, Lax, Zaks, Viru) think that Test cricket, especially playing overseas (not sub-continent), is something which simply they can't afford. They give up the moment a stiff challenge is thrown at them. Playing long form of the game is a different dynamics all together. You need to sweat your heart out (ask Dravid). You need to bowl consistently in the wicket area all the time and every time (ask McGrath, Warnie, Kumble, Ambrose, Wasim etc..) For this you need to be fit, both mentally and physically all the time (ask Kapil) and do the net practice regularly. Once the trio retires along with Zak, the new generation of Indian team has to work a lot and lot on above things to get to the supreme position again. Hope for the best!!!

  • POSTED BY Saaalik on | August 26, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    And yet, where is the answer to the drastic shortage of quality bowlers that we have, that was the prime reason for losing the series, and there doesn't seem to be any exciting or special prospect for the future, around too....sigh!

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    Succinctly put Harsha, yet again! There's so much knowledge and wisdom around Indian cricket, thanks to it's success and failure and the m-power attached over the past decade! That said, what's missing is the INTENT from the administrators and at times from players themselves to practice basic, smaller things to build a platform for fitness and fielding that go a long way in ensuring a bowler or a batsman is fully fit for his role. Don't think this requires a movement as such and hope the test whitewash is treated as a big enough alarm to get back in shape and regain No. 1 spot.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    Very true injuries , no warm-ups , no domestic cricket and players are put into the test side and when they did not perform , they get a scolding very unfair but our selection have been same from years its just that all these mistakes were hidding behind the WINs :)

  • POSTED BY sinfuldips on | August 26, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    let's look at the other side of the coin, should fit players like mukund and raina be included in the team? In my mind test cricket is a matter of specialists and we didn't have enough specialists. There was a great hoo-haa when we won the WC but it was forgotten how poorly our bowling did in almost all matches. We send players on India A and emerging players tour but their accomplishments never get rewarded. Why don't we include Kohli, Manoj Tiwary, Pandey, Pujara in the team when they keep doing consistently well. Why do we pick Amit Mishra out of thin air when he wasn't good enough to be in the WC squad? We didn't lose the series because we misfielded or dropped catches, we lost because we didn't bat for more than a day and couldn't get 20 wickets. That in my mind has no correlation with fitness. We are again being misguided once again by this crazy notion of fielding. I don't need a suresh raina in the team to save runs but score 0s when he's batting. It's the other way round.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    Heavens have not fallen, nor has earth lost its gravity! Yes, its as disappointing a series as we could have hoped to see, but its not the end of the world. Whilst our cricket administrators have always been myopic, its also important to understand that cricket, like life, is always a series of peaks and troughs. Its happened with WI and also Australia. With Australia, we have seen that even the so-called best structures and the most rigorous first class domestic cricket has not produced the talent to replace their retired greats. Similar thing will happen with India, whether we have structures or not. Indian cricket has seen its golden period with the likes of Dravid, Sachin, VVS, Dada, Kumble, and others. We must be humble but at the same time feel proud to have witnessed the best era of Indian cricket. Change is inevitable, but so is the fact that good times will come again!

  • POSTED BY zain29 on | August 26, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    The small stuff??????...............thats being polite!!!!. The small stuff comes into play when the teams are closely matched. Here the difference is gigantic. Look at India's bowling resources?????. Is that the bowling attack (and the back-up bench strength) worthy of a top-tier team?????. Start with the big things first....the small fine tuning can come later....................

  • POSTED BY cyniket on | August 26, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    the fitness is obviously an issue and india were inferior in this aspect. but they were mainly inferior in the bowling. each and every game the pitch looked completely different when england were bowling on it. India seem to have a problem developing their bowlers. when pathan and sreesanth and nehra etc first came along they looked full of potential, but then they don't seem to develop. contrast that with england, every one of england's current bowlers has improved enormously since they first came on the scene.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    I completely agree with u sir.. Attitude is what seperates champions from ordinary lot, tough decisions need to be taken for betterment of our self.. Bcci should think about it and reduce the stress on players by restricting games of individiual players...I completely agree with u sir.. Attitude is what seperates champions from ordinary lot, tough decisions need to be taken for betterment of our self.. Bcci should think about it and reduce the stress on playes by restricting games of individiual players...

  • POSTED BY Humdingers on | August 26, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    Harsha - good article. Time will tell if the BCCI has the foresight and vision to make use of their assets and resources. My guess would be another band aid solution (the likes of asking for an extra tour match). The heart of the matter is that the body is run by people who don't really care about the sanctity and institution of the game itself and only for the status it brings them.

    @MuchMore - you clearly have no passion for the game (as a player or a fan). Suggest you find something else more to your "democratic /fun nature". Maybe lawn bowls would suit you more.

  • POSTED BY mitgop11 on | August 26, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    spot on Harsha! For me, fitness and attitude always go together. It is as important as batting or bowling or fielding. Who would put his hands inside a pocket instead of taking a catch ?

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    Making sure players are match fit is easily a part of other sports, but why is it ignored in Cricket?

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    The reason India could produce a Sachin or A Dravid or a Shewag is due to reasons exactly opposite to what you are asking it to be. The above stated military like methord might give us a Mike Hussey or Damien Fleming or Andrew Caddick or any such Good players , but it will take all the fun out of this beautiful game, which is why Cricket is so popular in India .The extermes which we achieve are something to be proud of ! And this is one of the reason A Sachin or Shewag cannot be produced in Australia or England !

  • POSTED BY JohnnyRook on | August 26, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    Good point about the unhealthy subcontinental fetish with talent, Harsha. I also think performance is given a lot more credit in England/Australia than in subcontinent. We see so many selections based just on hope and talent rather than solid perfornace. I really wish India has some kind of finishing school which will convert talented Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma into performers like Tendulkar, Dravid and Kumble. Instead of taking them in as 21 year old talented players who might be great players in future, take them in as 25 year old top guns who are great players already.

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | August 26, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Most of your points are valid. Only thing I find odd is that you seem to imply that by better planning and training this team can become the top team. But they are also lacking in talent specially in bowling. As their captain himself said no matter how much you make him practise Sreesanth can't bat like Bradman.

  • POSTED BY JohnnyRook on | August 26, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    @MuchMore. I find your comments very strange. Do you want see just a skilled guy or do you want him displaying his skill too. You must be the only guy on the planet who will pick option 1. In international sport, meritocracy is more important than democracy. People should love Sehwag's batting more than they love Sehwag. What is the point of haing Sehwag in the team if he is not able to bat like one. A Wasim Jaffer is obviously not as good as Viru but he is loads better than an unfit Viru.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    I simply say one thing. I second HarshaI simply say one thing. I second Harsha

  • POSTED BY getgopi on | August 26, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Winning and staying at the top is what its all about. Otherwise, why would you want to watch it? Rules are just technicalities. Cricket is a physical "business". If fitness isn't a lifestyle, your "peers" are going to mock you with theirs. Apart from the occasional injury, I don't ever recall SRT or Dravid being out of shape. Dhoni can't save a team by himself all the time. Some of the youngsters like Raina and Kohli are sharp in the field. But then so was Yuvi in his earlier cricketing years. One thing I have noticed about most of my beloved Indians is that they are supremely content with mediocre results in pretty much everything in life with maybe just the occasional flash of brilliance...à la Laxman.

  • POSTED BY CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on | August 26, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    If fitness is an issue then sehwag,zaheer,rp singh,munaf,harbhajan,yuvraj, would never make indian team unless they get rid off their pregnant tummies kohli,raina,rohit,dhoni are the fittest guys infact for all dhonis shoddy glovework I never saw his running between wickets getting slow nor his football playing skills with kohli,raina, during practice

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    A very polite way of hinting at the lack of fitness of Indian players in general and bowlers in particular

  • POSTED BY Umms on | August 26, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    IPL is destroying Indian cricket.

  • POSTED BY Paddle_Sweep on | August 26, 2011, 3:59 GMT

    These things were known right from the beginning. You are passing information after the result and that's of no consequence.

  • POSTED BY MuchMore on | August 26, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Dear Harsha, its just a game.

    Winning and staying at the top is not all one aspires to have. Of course, it is important but having fun is more so.

    We don't want war-fit soldiers oops players, we want skilled players. If they are not fit then they are not fit. Simple as that. We would still want them.

    Also, I agree with Zaheer/Sehwag/RP should not have been in the team for this tour. But that doesn't call for drastic changes. If these guys would want to play, they would train accordingly. Let's not change the 'democratic' nature of the game, as you put it, in India.

  • POSTED BY deepak_sholapurkar on | August 26, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    Harsha,

    What you suggest, Like England which sent Stuart Broad to play first class cricket India should keepout Struggling players out of Champion League and make them play in 4 day First Class cricket. we need your strong opnion.

    Thanks & Regards,

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY deepak_sholapurkar on | August 26, 2011, 3:44 GMT

    Harsha,

    What you suggest, Like England which sent Stuart Broad to play first class cricket India should keepout Struggling players out of Champion League and make them play in 4 day First Class cricket. we need your strong opnion.

    Thanks & Regards,

  • POSTED BY MuchMore on | August 26, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Dear Harsha, its just a game.

    Winning and staying at the top is not all one aspires to have. Of course, it is important but having fun is more so.

    We don't want war-fit soldiers oops players, we want skilled players. If they are not fit then they are not fit. Simple as that. We would still want them.

    Also, I agree with Zaheer/Sehwag/RP should not have been in the team for this tour. But that doesn't call for drastic changes. If these guys would want to play, they would train accordingly. Let's not change the 'democratic' nature of the game, as you put it, in India.

  • POSTED BY Paddle_Sweep on | August 26, 2011, 3:59 GMT

    These things were known right from the beginning. You are passing information after the result and that's of no consequence.

  • POSTED BY Umms on | August 26, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    IPL is destroying Indian cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 4:37 GMT

    A very polite way of hinting at the lack of fitness of Indian players in general and bowlers in particular

  • POSTED BY CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on | August 26, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    If fitness is an issue then sehwag,zaheer,rp singh,munaf,harbhajan,yuvraj, would never make indian team unless they get rid off their pregnant tummies kohli,raina,rohit,dhoni are the fittest guys infact for all dhonis shoddy glovework I never saw his running between wickets getting slow nor his football playing skills with kohli,raina, during practice

  • POSTED BY getgopi on | August 26, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Winning and staying at the top is what its all about. Otherwise, why would you want to watch it? Rules are just technicalities. Cricket is a physical "business". If fitness isn't a lifestyle, your "peers" are going to mock you with theirs. Apart from the occasional injury, I don't ever recall SRT or Dravid being out of shape. Dhoni can't save a team by himself all the time. Some of the youngsters like Raina and Kohli are sharp in the field. But then so was Yuvi in his earlier cricketing years. One thing I have noticed about most of my beloved Indians is that they are supremely content with mediocre results in pretty much everything in life with maybe just the occasional flash of brilliance...à la Laxman.

  • POSTED BY on | August 26, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    I simply say one thing. I second HarshaI simply say one thing. I second Harsha

  • POSTED BY JohnnyRook on | August 26, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    @MuchMore. I find your comments very strange. Do you want see just a skilled guy or do you want him displaying his skill too. You must be the only guy on the planet who will pick option 1. In international sport, meritocracy is more important than democracy. People should love Sehwag's batting more than they love Sehwag. What is the point of haing Sehwag in the team if he is not able to bat like one. A Wasim Jaffer is obviously not as good as Viru but he is loads better than an unfit Viru.

  • POSTED BY Rahulbose on | August 26, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Most of your points are valid. Only thing I find odd is that you seem to imply that by better planning and training this team can become the top team. But they are also lacking in talent specially in bowling. As their captain himself said no matter how much you make him practise Sreesanth can't bat like Bradman.