Harsha Bhogle
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Commentator, television presenter and writer

If India have intent, success will follow

Just like England did, India need to put the national team ahead of all other interests

Harsha Bhogle

September 16, 2011

Comments: 65 | Text size: A | A

James Anderson is congratulated after running Rahul Dravid out, England v India, 3rd ODI, The Oval, September 9 2011
England didn't beat India because they were extraordinarily talented. They won by out-planning India © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: India tour of England
Teams: England | India

After two months I am getting ready to say goodbye to England, a country I have started growing quite fond of. Admittedly I see it in the summer, through the eyes of a visitor. I don't have a mortgage; I have room service and housekeeping instead. But the parks have been as pristine as ever, the motorways reliable, the hotels better than before, and the good old Ploughman's sandwich is still a great snack. London has been in good form, with its old buildings standing resplendent. Why, even telephone calls back home are cheaper than a local text.

"But the cricket was terrible," everyone tells me. From visitors in the lobby of the St James' Court, to students who saved money and braved the weather to follow India, to expatriate Indians who get to support "their" side once every few years. They shake their heads, like only we can, and go on and on about the "terrible cricket". I disagree. The result, if you were an India fan, was terrible, but the cricket wasn't. England played better cricket than I have seen them play in all the years I have been following this game.

England didn't just outplay India, they out-planned them. And there is a lesson there. In our part of the world, instinct rules, whether we are driving, getting into a train, or flicking late, backward of square. It is an instinct honed by working in systems that are not perfect. Without an instinct for survival, we will be crushed under.

There is an argument that if all systems are perfect it kills initiative, that people become dependent and sluggish. But like with all arguments, the perfect place is somewhere in between. In pockets of stability, under Wright and Ganguly and under Kirsten and Dhoni, India experienced a successful system, but because whatever was right wasn't institutionalised, or because maybe it was only an accidental coming together of this group of people (blasphemy!), India were always going to be inconsistent.

Over the last 18 months England have found that spot. They took time getting there, for the seed was sown under Fletcher and Hussain, but by creating legislation to put the England cricket team first and all else second, and by having strong, successful people in charge, England have embarked on a path likely to serve them well for a while. Many challenges remain - playing on the subcontinent, for example - but the intent is there, and I have often said that when intent is genuine, everything else follows.

This is not an England who can sweep all before them with extraordinary ability. There is, in this team, no Hayden, no Ponting, no Gilchrist, no Warne and no McGrath. Yes, there is a Cook, a Pietersen and a Bell, a Swann and an Anderson, but it isn't yet the same thing. England have won on the back of strong preparation and a strong work ethic, and as India prepare to let a fine generation go, they too must learn to do that.

Indeed, India can react to this defeat in different ways. One is to assume that nothing has happened and continue, which would be a bit like the approach to food rotting in our warehouses: just let it be. It's not an unpopular approach. A second way would be to prepare turners in October and hope all is forgotten. It might win India the one-day series against England, but it will only make the players better at what they are already good at, and no better at what they aren't particularly good at. India would learn nothing from that approach.

Instead, India could start an aggressive exercise aimed at improving a very promising lot of batsmen and finding some bowlers. But who will be the teachers and who will be the scouts? Whose job will it be to revive Irfan Pathan and take RP Singh and Sreesanth to the next level? It can't be the bowling coach because he will be with the national team. Who will teach Virat Kohli how to score runs at the next level? Who will work with Ajinkya Rahane and Abhinav Mukund? I do not fear for talent in Indian cricket, I fear for the teachers who have to mould that talent. Have you seen any? Is there the intent?

But while we debate that - and we must - we must also congratulate England. True, they played at home, but they have begun to show solidity and a love for detail. At last they have begun to do with cricket what they did with roads, railways and buildings. Now, will it last as long as those have?

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

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Posted by Naresh28 on (September 19, 2011, 13:49 GMT)

S_chowdhury is right when he mentions Akash Chopra as an opener.A true Indian professional opener. Just read some of his articles. Fast bowling is a problem - besides Zaheer, Nehra, Ishant and Sreesanth there is very little. I once read about a good strong fast bowler from the Punjab - Abid Nabi. India needs to look for bowlers capable of 145+ We are often mocked as having miltary medium pacers. Under 140. I am not worried about spinners as we do have some developing all the time. There is lots of batting talent. We need more good fast left armers. On this English tour we had too many right armers. A slower bowler like Praveen Kumar makes up with lots of guts. Ishant was bound to be injured as he played too much in Windies and England. He had no support at all.

Posted by S_Chowdhury on (September 19, 2011, 4:24 GMT)

India should have taken an experienced opener like Akash Chopra in lieu of Mukand. Arguably the greatest close-in catcher after the days of Solkar, Akash contributed heavily to India's modest success during the Australian tour. He would have been the ideal choice for the England tour especially after his exploits in the last Ranji season. Unfortunately, whenever his chance had come, either Jaffer, Vijay or Mukand had been given opportunity. I hope he still gets his due. He is not yet spoilt by the T20 cricket and is an ideal third opener for foreign tour.

Posted by jay57870 on (September 19, 2011, 2:50 GMT)

(Cont) As Nasser Hussain commented so often: Whatever was to go wrong, went wrong for India in the series. When it rains it pours. England took advantage of everything: familiar playing conditions, weather, home-field, even tosses. They deserve credit. It was truly a show of "asymmetrical warfare" (military jargon), where one side's resources are so depleted, it is annihilated by a well-armed enemy at full-strength. How can a team that was No.1 in Tests & won the WC just 6 months ago become so "terrible"? Answer: Missing 6 key WC personnel was a calamity! There was no contingency plan. The replacement players, bar one or two, were no match. The result was inevitable. Listen to Dhoni. He knows "what actually went wrong." What next? Give the Fletcher-Dhoni system a fair shake. Retrain the entire roster on basics. Prioritise bowling. Emphasise scouting & player development. Rehab the injured back to good health. They're still the best. The intent is there. Out of calamity emerges success.

Posted by jay57870 on (September 19, 2011, 2:36 GMT)

Harsha - There's nothing much an organization can do when struck suddenly by calamity, however solid its (strategic) intent might be. In 2008-09, General Motors - then the world's No.1 automaker - collapsed into bankruptcy, wrecked by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Toyota Motors - the new No.1 - is likely to lose its top ranking because of disastrous production disruptions caused by the Japanese tsunami earlier this year. In both cases, their contingency plans were inadequate & ineffective. Now we've witnessed a cricket calamity on this English tour: Team India's Waterloo. Captain Dhoni summed it up matter-of factly: "I have never seen so many injuries in the last 5 years. To lose 9 to 11 players in one series is something I can never forget." Spare a thought for Dhoni: How can the hapless captain navigate a sinking ship in a horrific sea storm, without his most experienced crew? How can there be "stability" when the team's ballast is unsettled & imbalanced? TBC

Posted by kasnia on (September 18, 2011, 16:57 GMT)

I do agree with HG. One of the major shortcoming of the Indian team which restricts its winning streak is its poor fielding and loosening up the game. How many times do you remember the Mighty Aussies under Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist allow the opposition to make a comeback in the game after loosing 3-4 early wickets - almost none. Moreover, they extraordinary capability to gather even half chances proved to be match- turning points on regular basis. Why not give another chance to Irfan Pathan to prove his mettle as a swing bowler and an all-rounder. Whats the point in giving chances to Murali Vijay??? Why not go for Manish Pandey and Robin Uttappa instead. We all know what they are capable of doing to the opposition attacks

Posted by Percy_Fender on (September 18, 2011, 12:00 GMT)

I do not know why some comment makes are so rabidly against India. Probably because India have been No 1 undeservedly for nearly 2 years or that some players have not been bid for in the IPL or India' sheer economic standing both in cricket and as a nation. For all such people ---I could make a team of such baiters really--- I wish to say that India is no longer No 1 in any form of cricket and so they should keep their angst for some other team. Asians should really have been happy when India were doing well in going to the top of the ICC rankings and winning the World Cup. When Pakistan and Sri Lanka won the World Cup there was much jubilation in India. What Asians must remember is that for many years, only Australia and England mattered. The West Indies just made it on the basis of their might and excellence. So when there is someone from Asia doing well, I feel all Asian should have something to be proud of.

Posted by BabishMohan on (September 18, 2011, 7:08 GMT)

Since most of the English batsmen peak in the carrers past 30yrs Cook looks all set to create some records on his own.

Posted by BabishMohan on (September 18, 2011, 7:00 GMT)

Cook is 26 years old and England plays 99 tests in next 8 years.Imagine Cook playing in 75% of those tests.He will be one of the English all time greats.

Posted by Sheela on (September 18, 2011, 2:12 GMT)

Bhogle is absolutely right. One point he has not touched, a very cvital one - fielding. Safe fielding does not require talent. There are Indian cricketers who show their disinclination to field. Whatever their achievements in batting or bowling, they should be dropped from the team with immediate effect. As any genuine cricket lover knows - no one can say he committed only one mistake - and this applies equally to fielding.

Posted by FaisalAsghar on (September 17, 2011, 18:28 GMT)

you know what with regards to content these articles are getting pretty monotonous. India should do this and India should do that, i have a better idea let Harsha lead the BCCI that would solve all the problems. It seems as though there isnt anything else happening in Indian cricket!? also please stop telling people that England planned well and won; No sir! they planned well and had better skill than the Indians to execute those plans. Accept defeat in a graceful manner!

Posted by AvidCricFan on (September 17, 2011, 16:32 GMT)

Harsha got it right. Talent needs to be nurtured and matured so that players perform at the highest level when it matters. BCCI has no system in place and probably no desire. BCCI couldn't even groom few decent spinners for which there should not be any shortage in India, let alone pace bowling. BCCI needs to have a clear player grooming plan where the talent is spotted at school level and continuously groomed. With the population and popularity of cricket in India, India should not any problem in fielding 10 top-class teams.

Players also need to step for performance. It works both ways. The problem I have often noticed is when players become stars they slack off and take things for granted. That attitude need to change. India has two role models, Sachin and Dravid to look up to on how to handle fame, stardom and still stay focused.

Posted by Pritt32 on (September 17, 2011, 14:44 GMT)

I hope key lessons will be learned from India's abysmal tour of England. National interests remains priority. The BCCI needs to take charge of the matter, by laying down the rules and stamping authority on players. Indian contracted players should be exempted from playing IPL and CL, otherwise injuries will be risked just like what happened in the England tour. I hope Indian players have a conscious and not participate in any forthcoming CL matches, as focus should be directed to International cricket only. India urgently needs a quality pace bowler as Pakistan, England and South Africa are very strong on that field. Z.Khan may play a few more years, but he needs good support. India should play first class cricket to nurture and build talent for test cricket. India needs to wake up, otherwise dark days loom.

Posted by CricketChat on (September 17, 2011, 14:12 GMT)

My first comment about what I felt is likely to happen was blocked. My be this will be published. Ind needs a new look team. The current stars have done their bit, made their money and it is time to move on to next generation of players to take Ind back to top.

Posted by Capitalist_Cricketer on (September 17, 2011, 9:58 GMT)

Agreed on most points with HG. Another thing which does stare straightaway post england tour is the lack of physical fitness culture in the test team to be more specific. I mean bell and cook both made 290 + and they then straightaway came to field, How many indian batsman would make that score and then come to field ?

Also we are going in a lot for the show stoppers instead of the show providers

Posted by   on (September 17, 2011, 9:41 GMT)

comparing cook with tendulkar in any way is absurd. the quality of bowling sachin has succeeded against is far superior. strike rates of the two are incomparable.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2011, 9:30 GMT)

Don't know whose intent(ion) and what type of intent(ion) Harsha is referring to.Bcci never sends players abroad to lose all the matches and in all forms of the game.Players also don't intend that either.Just a few months ago the Bcci,the players,the team,the coach and all other associated with team India were supposed to have the the nicest of intentions.The real issue is that the transition of the team has reached its crucial phase.Very soon we are going to miss Rahul,Sachin and Laxman.Zaheer is over burdened and injury prone.Bhajji has already given his best.In fact, formation of a new- look team India is an inevitability and the recently concluded series is going to turn out a strong catalyst.In so far as consistency is concerned,as a cricket team, India always had and will always have limitations,at least, till the time sports administration reaches those levels of advancement which are widely dreamt of.Hard facts; Harsha.

Posted by viksri on (September 17, 2011, 9:24 GMT)

Current English team is not Australia of 90s and 00s but even that Australian team was not west-indies of 70s and 80s. Every good team gets a chance to create their own legacy and clearly Indian team has blown it. Now its up to England whether they can create English team of 10s or just pass the ball to next team.

Posted by   on (September 17, 2011, 8:26 GMT)

The BCCI should take the blame more than anybody else for the "No Show" by Indian team in England. Key things that i would like the BCCI should do for upcoming tours : 1. Most importantly, BCCI has to keep atleast 2 weeks gap between tours or tournaments as against the 4 or 5 days gap provided now. The schedules are too tight leaving everybody exhausted including the viewers. 2. In any abroad tour, warm up matches are must. At the same time, BCCI should look to schedule the one dayer's first followed by the test matches.This will help players to acclimatize to condition better for the test matches which is more critical. 3. When a player is fit after injury, He should not be called up directly into national team. Instead he should have some games under his belt by playing domestic matches. 4. Make the IPL format in such a way that it finishes in 30 days (max) as against the current duration of 57 days.

Posted by cricpolitics on (September 17, 2011, 7:31 GMT)

"India need to put the national team ahead of all other interests". What are all these other interests? Is Harsha referring to IPL, Bollywood, and Champions League?

Posted by sumeetpaul on (September 17, 2011, 4:42 GMT)

Well said Harsha! Well Done England! Time for India to learn some lessons. Either you stay fit for the national team, or you make for others... permanently! (Gayle type situation!)

And about those guys wondering England is having the best cricket team world has ever seen... wait for England to visit India! You will know that they are good (no doubt) but not the best yet!

Zak would have made a certain difference, but its time for India to look beyond him!

Posted by Jai_Sharma on (September 17, 2011, 4:27 GMT)

Taking R P Singh and Sreesanth to the "next level". Are you serious? Is that your grand plan?

Posted by cardiodoctor on (September 16, 2011, 20:24 GMT)

Yes Harsha and "Sir??? Freddie Pedalo" - England have been very good at planning. They didnt win anything for over 30 years. So they PLANNED and decided to import players from other countries - Note Strauss, Dernbach, Pietersen, Kieswetter- all South African Morgan - Irish Ben Stokes - Kiwi So really a World XI!! Let's see if this World XI team can keep up this form on the subcontinent and win a world cup.

Posted by bigdhonifan on (September 16, 2011, 19:47 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintof. Sachin scored 25 Test Centuries, 6720 Test runs and 28 ODI centuries 10179 ODI runs before turning 27!!!! So dont compare Cooks 5868 runs and 19 Centuries to Legend!!!

Posted by puccamumbaikar on (September 16, 2011, 19:40 GMT)

Apart from the cricketing details... I love the tangential remark to "food rotting in the warehouses" I cant help but think of one BCCI supremo who shall not be named (wink!). It was probably unintentional ... but then its Harsha the great commentator and a very fine blogger himself!!! Kudos for slipping in that one like a sublime late-cut that goes past the slip cordon.

Posted by bigdhonifan on (September 16, 2011, 19:19 GMT)

India have a very good batting line up .. Nothing to worry... Rahane, Kohli, Pujara will replace Dravid, Sachin and Laxman! in the coming years! But we need to find a good Fast bowler! IF we can find one, we will be #1 soon!

Posted by kumarcoolbuddy on (September 16, 2011, 17:48 GMT)

Better we don't compare previous AUS bowlers like Warne, McGrath and current ENG bowlers. Though I didn't like that AUS team their talent was terrific. ENG bowlers are very far from them. Only similarities between previous AUS team and current ENG team is negative pyscholgical drama.

Posted by NairUSA on (September 16, 2011, 17:28 GMT)

Good perspective. It is utmost necessary to institutionalize the winning ways that got India ahead in the last few years. I am sure that it is not that difficult as most of the players who are on the team were part of the golden era. It just takes some intent from the BCCI to drive towards that goal. On a different note, preparing turners for the upcoming ODIs is not necessarily a bad thing. Team India need some wins in this format soon and this approach can be a morale booster. However, extreme care should be taken to make sure that Indian spinners are skilled enough to utilize these turners. We do not want see a turner being used well by the visiting team!

Posted by m_ilind on (September 16, 2011, 17:24 GMT)

For starters, India needs to show more commitment in the field; fitness is mandatory as well. No fitness, no play! Also, like SL & Pak are doing India needs to keep trying new youngsters, just wailing about an ageing line up will do no good!

Posted by buntyj on (September 16, 2011, 14:55 GMT)

pps- talk of team spirit, its not possible without developing an attitude of respect for the games traditions and structures (even at cost of sometimes being bored n not 'enjoying' as per msd mantra or giving up an opportunity to party or make money) ; in this context its interesting to note that almost not a single indian commentator /observer has criticised the teams absence from the icc dinner recently though staying 10 mins away. this is an example of the difficulty of the task given how far indian cricket has irreversably moved towards the culture of embracing individual branding,celebrityhood, club loyalty and cricket as the means of financial success. and this demonstrates why its too late to build eng style team spirit n culture; and why, perhaps only ringfencing the long game in india may be the solution.

Posted by buntyj on (September 16, 2011, 14:47 GMT)

ps- what would be possible though difficult n given attitudes of indian board, fans, players, critics, sponsors, media, circumstances n culture highly unlikely is the ring fencing of the long game and perhaps subsidisation from the short formats. from school level onwards- the corollary is that test players must be given contracts and playing fees that will compete (may be lil less) than ipl. player contracts must have reporting clauses, robust training/fitness/nets clauses and requirements to play a minimum of duleep, irani, ranji matches per season (younger players may be sent at boards cost for full county season), and restrictions on no of days (especially prior to series) that players may engage in non cricketing activities (for top test stars the scarcity will increase their appearance fees for non cricketing activities and after initial adjustment phase they shouldnt lose out financially); govt security for players should be withdrawn except during test series in riskier sites

Posted by buntyj on (September 16, 2011, 14:37 GMT)

part of the team first culture adopted by england is a commitment that team comes ahead of individual financial and non cricket celebrity success; this is the precise opposite of what happens in india for a variety of causes; in india cricket-particularly the short form- has become the route to financial success and celebrityhood including from non cricket prowess (modellng, events, sponsors etc) ; the ipl embodies this further by placing a premium on club loyalty and individual branding; ipl emulates the epl but many eng observors have noted over the years that while epl is footballs leading league, eng are not a champion football side. thus for cricket they deliberately took the opposite approach of strengthening counties and ecb rather than club and individual branding. now you cant shut the stable door in india after the horse has bolted. so what can be done? no easy answers but a couple of tough ones......

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 13:05 GMT)

Timely article, Harsha. The setup immediately outside the National team needs to be looked at,as you rightly pointed out and right people should be appointed.

Posted by thealmighty on (September 16, 2011, 13:05 GMT)

This is your one of your best articles if not the best. I have read almost all your articles and this ranks amongst the best. You have clearly simplified that their is no substitute to hard work and planning and organisation will eventually lead to rewards. I also liked the way you compaared the bridges and the railways to the team as in any thing whether a team or a construction the base and the ethics have to be strong. I am a die hard fan of the Indian team right from the early nineties and I have always defended them when their has been failure as I always knew we will be inconsistent but showed glimpses of class. Over the last 3 years Indian cricket evolved and did the unthiinkable performed consistently. The results followed and our joy knew no bounds. Which is why now I dont want to defend as we have blown a golden chanceit. Its not just a bad series guys its a horrific exposing of our shortcommings. Their is nothing to make excuse on this. The board and the players know it.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 12:35 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintoff....pls check ur stats sir......jonathan trott has only 9 hundreds in all...6 in tests and 3 in ODIs and he is 30 yrs old...even at the age of 26 tendulkar had far far better records in both formats and not to to mis his clas of batting...and even after that he was very consistant...

Posted by srjepson on (September 16, 2011, 12:15 GMT)

@maddy20. The good thing about this England setup is that it appreciates there is some way to go to be called a very good team, let alone a great one.

Posted by maddy20 on (September 16, 2011, 11:46 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie-Flintoff The Australian team of the past has won 3 Worldcups on the trot with 100% pure Australian players. They also held the no.1 Ranking in tests for about 8 years when India pipped them. England on the other hand, could not win one with all their South African and Irish imports. As for Tendulkar being at risk, players these days simply don't last as long as Sachin. The guy has been playing cricket for 21 years now and still chases the ball like he did when he was 16. Remember that there was a time when Ponting was expected to overtake Tendulkar. Cook/Bell is gonna end up like that soon! As for the Gilchrist comparision, I advice that you watch videos of Gilchrist and Haydos batting. They were Fearless and Ruthless be it test or ODI. Australians are the only team to win a TEST series in India in the last 10-15 years. They have beaten every team in their own backyard. When Eng beat India in India, SA in SA, SL in SL then we can start comparing. Till then, Dream on!

Posted by spence1324 on (September 16, 2011, 10:57 GMT)

As normal some india fans cant except reality whats that we are always hearing,india has the god given right to be number 1 because we are india,its a conspiracy aganist us we cant loose,how dare any other team have ambition only we can have it,all umpires are against us (despite forcing two into early retirement),wait to england come to india thats the only place that winning counts,or you could just say that england have bowled better,fielded better,and have batded better,if india win or any other team beat england fine i will be the first to congratulate them not make bitter excuses or threats.india can prepare for there odi series safe in there comfort zone,however england wont turn up looking like a extra off the biggest loser.

Posted by DilipR on (September 16, 2011, 10:36 GMT)

Nice reading, as always. the younger lot r almost there, n we were doing quite well with Robin Singh n Venkatesh Prasad, BCCi could maybe give that another thought. but whoever and whatevrs being told to youngsters (Raina) in tests seems all wrong, seeing how diff he's looking now. we've seen similar (natural stroke players) like Hayden, Gilchrist, even Ponting play with the same approach (positive) in both forms, and be successful! maybe something to learn there. there's no doubt the youngsters have the hunger and intent to win, if their approach and temperment to tests is sorted out, we could scale back to No.1 sooner n stay there longer.

Posted by Quaser on (September 16, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

As I mentioned in the Sahil Dutta article, the strategy adopted must reflect the characteristics of its players. Botham, Gower and probably Freddie hated training. They would not be suitable for this team. So India with its Shewag, Khan and some others would find this disciplined (but maybe dull) and effective approach not suitable to them. Fletcher is lucky he has a young cohort. But India under him looked like England post ashes win in Australia. Five nil defeat though they did win the one dayers

Posted by Alexk400 on (September 16, 2011, 9:39 GMT)

There is a lack of Energy. It is directly relational to lack of motivation. Once india won the world cup and already number 1 side , there is not much reward or mountain to climb except downhill. It is basically india stopped playing the game. Selectors though fielding 11 players the job is done. India should focus on winning every series especially marquee series. if you really see no indian fans are angry against indian team , more of accepting india really do not have firepower in their bowling. of same india lost in world cup , Indian team players will be abused by everyone. For me Indian team lacked pride in winning. Also i think indian team did not play as a team. Seems like there are too many groups interested in stats than winning for india. Oh well , India can't really win outside india without a real fast bowler. We were lucky to win few games outside india with Zaheer khan. There is no bowler in horizon (another 3 years) in domestic setup is really a fast bowler.

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (September 16, 2011, 9:09 GMT)

@ All the naysayers: Check out the FACTS. Cook already has 19 hundreds at 26 years of age. He will SMASH past Hayden's 30 hundreds mark. In fact Tendulkar's 51 hundreds may be at risk unless he can add a few more to his tally. Bell is well on course to beat Ponting's records. Plus Bell has more elegance and class than any of the past Australian batsmen. Pietersen already has achieved way more than Martyn ever did. Prior is a better wicket-keeper than Gilchrist, and now averages almost as much as Gilchrist. Swann and Anderson are not of the same level as Warne and McGrath, but if you combine Broad, Tremlett/Bresan, and compare them to Lee/Gillespie, I would say the England attack is almost as good as the Australian attack of the past.

Posted by bumsonseats on (September 16, 2011, 9:00 GMT)

what dictates a cricketer as great. the runs he scores or the wickets taken. one thing is certain his career must have finished or on its end. the guys who as english who played for us and in my mind were great, these present guys have records to match with any, so their time may come. so to my mind in the last 10 years there has been 3 greats. 2 aussies and a SL.there a maybe 2 great still playing both indian. all others are good players not greats. england has a team of quality players a few could go on to be very good, whos records at the end could be great. greatness is in the eyes of their supporters. dpk

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 8:58 GMT)

Nicely written as always and a lesson that an extraordinarily talented but unplanned team can fall on face against a less talented planned outfit which operates as a team.The team spirit or lack of it was so evident in this series . During the match presentation of the last test match almost all Indian cricketers had different outfit and looked like a bunch of visitors visiting London where as the English team looked like a complete soldier unit . Small thing but in my opinion it matters.

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (September 16, 2011, 8:47 GMT)

I think first and foremost we need to avoid situation like in case of Sehwag and Zaheer Khan......

You cannot have players coming after 3-4 month injury break and then they play 1 match and then they are again injured.......

Secondly,we need to rotate our bowlers between different formats based on their strength+work-load+effectiveness....

Posted by bumsonseats on (September 16, 2011, 8:44 GMT)

the older players must take responsibility. the fact is india can not move on till they retire. it cannot be money, for this might have been years ago that makes them continue as ipl has seen that reason go. the bcci should take the bull be the horns and give them a time line to retire say their goodbyes to the fans and let other make their names in test cricket. dpk

Posted by annys on (September 16, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintoff The english batsmen have not faced the real test yet that facing harbhajan,misra,zaheer,ishanth,aswin in India and your bowlers against sehwag,gambhir,dravid,sachin,laxman,raina,dhoni in India. Let them do that and then lets compare them to the great Aussies. Zaheer who is today Indias top bowler,Hayden used to toy with him :))

Posted by sweetspot on (September 16, 2011, 8:19 GMT)

By "National Team" I suppose you mean playing for the BCCI, Harsha. I think we are on the cusp of a major change - the understanding that Test cricket is no longer going to be the major draw. It is not hard to sense in the younger Indian players. They are full of talent, but they are geared for efficiency in the shorter formats, playing Tests only to test their skills, not really for making their bread and butter from. Look at the way they even ignored the ICC awards. I actually loved that, for it furthered my theory that we should finally come to recognize that nostalgia apart, the big focus should indeed be the IPL and the shorter formats of the game. I hope India do not leave all the flair and go after this methodical nonsense that England is dishing out, albeit with great effect. I'd lose interest in cricket if India became as insipid as the England team. Bring on the CLT20! I can't wait! And oh yes, I used to be a big Test cricket fan. I have changed.

Posted by Domzo on (September 16, 2011, 8:13 GMT)

@maddy20, not that subcontinental performance is the be all and end all of greatness, but saying that Cook hasn't performed well in the subcontinent is complete rubbish - in fact Cook's test average of 57.75 in Asia is superb, better than Hayden's 50.39. He's also got more centuries on the subcontinent than Hayden, 4-3 (including one on test debut in India). Hayden was stellar in the subcontinent. Now if you ask me does that make him better, no it doesn't. But comparing Cook and Hayden is apples and oranges anyway - Hayden was a dominating opener, particularly at home, Cook is evolving into an accumulator, totally different beasts. If you are comparing with the superb Aussie squad of the early 2000s, compare Cook to Langer rather than Hayden.

Posted by ian_ghose on (September 16, 2011, 8:09 GMT)

Actually, as far as batting in the subcontinent is concerned, Bell averages better than Ponting, and Cook averages better than Hayden. So yeah, Sir_Freddie_Flintoff has some merit in what he says. Besides, India's bowling is no better than Bangladesh's, with all due respect to Bangladesh..so yeah, I don't see what the fuss is all about?

Posted by Reg_Dyer on (September 16, 2011, 7:54 GMT)

Can India put the national team above all other interests? C'mon Harsha; to pose the question is to answer it. (By the way, there's no such thing as a Ploughman's sandwich!)

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 7:35 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintoff - Are you serious?!?! I am an Indian but I always have great respect for those Aussie greats and pls pls dont do injustice by comparing the current English players with them.... I agree that Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Prior and Anderson are very good players, but they are not great.... Have you seen the fear in the opposition bowlers' eyes when Hayden or Gilly are unwielding savage assault with their willows?!?! Have you seen the confusion in the opposition batters' face when Pidge or Warney are winding their web against them?!?! And how abt Martyn - the silkiest of batsmen....

Posted by athem79 on (September 16, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

I agree to what you have said. However, you would be having similar content for India after England would be about to return to England after their India trip.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 7:18 GMT)

three letters, IPL !!! thats the cause

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 7:18 GMT)

What are the solutions to the problems mentioned by you in the penultimate para? We need someone like Kapil appointed as special upcoming talent coach to teach players like Rahane, Kohli, Mukund and even Raina on how to cope when playing abroad. Bring in Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav. Do away with people like RPS and Munaf, the military medium. Only give the ball to those who bowl really fast. Tell both Ishant and Sree that unless they are quick, they have no chance to play for India.

Dravid can mentor these young guns while playing, a role that he already is fulfilling. Some concerted action is needed or we are going to lose in Australia and the entire Cricket empire is going to come down in a heap around BCCI's ears.

Posted by Truemans_Ghost on (September 16, 2011, 6:52 GMT)

I seem to have read this article before several time....England not very talented but well drilled...Fletcher and Hussain started it.....Indian should do the same..... come on Harsha you're a better journalist than this

Posted by sathishkrish on (September 16, 2011, 6:03 GMT)

IPL was probably one of the reasons why India lost badly. India didn't have the bowlers to win matches in England. With Zaheer may be the margin of defeat wouldn't have been that bad. Either our resources are too bad or they are underprepared. Ishant was very inconsistent, Sree was a disappointment and Harbhajan, i need not say anything. So the best approach for India is to search for a pool of 10-15 fast bowlers across the country and have atleast 5 of them ready before any away series. It will be tough but better late than never.

Posted by Asbah on (September 16, 2011, 5:51 GMT)

Sir_Freddie_Flintoff do you honestly believe that Cook and Bell are better than Hayden and Ponting... Because I find it hard to digest that any one in his right mind would!!

Posted by maddy20 on (September 16, 2011, 5:51 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintoff Your comparing Bell with Ponting and Anderson with McGrath? Now thats hilarious. Even more hilarious is the comparision of Hayden to Cook(gimme a break. Hayden performed well in sub-continent too, unlike Cook) and Prior to Gilchrist(who according to me was the greatest wicket-keeper to play the game. English players are just South African and Irish imports who are just great at home. You will see how great they are when they play in sub-continental conditions in a couple of months!

Posted by jimbond on (September 16, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

Overreacting as usual. Indian's have not fallen down, they were never too high in the first place. Over the past one year, India have often managed to win matches or stave off defeats by mostly chance - individual actions, and we felt like we had a man for each occasion- things that couldnt be depended upon, such as a batting performance by Harbajan, Zaheer, or a bowling performance by Yuvraj, or a Raina. India was always close to a defeat, and possibly it was the reslience of Kirsten or a lucky period when most of India's players were fit - that kept them afloat. Yes, the coach is a bit of a worry. They still have a core of a good team, are world champions and can focus on the team for the next cup. Gambhir, Rahane, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Pujara supported by Raina/Saurabh Tiwary and led by Dhoni is a good line up. With luck, even Sehwag and Yuvi will be around. Praveen, Irfan Pathan, Ashwin should form the core of the bowling- they need to get two spinners and three pacemen.

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (September 16, 2011, 5:27 GMT)

Harsha Bhogle is wrong in his assessment of the England team. Cook > Hayden, Bell > Ponting, Pietersen > Martyn, Prior = Gilchrist, Swann < Warne, Anderson < McGrath. So, this England team compares pretty well with the Australian team of the early 00s.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (September 16, 2011, 4:16 GMT)


Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 4:15 GMT)

The participation of contracted players in IPL must be restricted by BCCI to 5-7 matches only. Look at Sehwag, he had missed the last 2 T20 world championships because of playing in IPL. This time too, he was playing in IPL even though he had an injury. So money is important and not Country for Indian players.

Posted by Nerk on (September 16, 2011, 3:59 GMT)

Harsha is quite right, and it is a claim that could be aimed at Indian cricket itself. India have always had strong teams. People complain about their bowling, but India has produced some of the finest spin bowlers. You can doubt the form of Harbhajan Signh, but you cannot doubt the talent. It just seems that when an Indian team goes overseas, the minute the plane lands they are talking about "just wait till we get you back on the sub-continent." This was a theme throughout the English summer. But they're not on the sub-continent. They are in England. Stop talking about if you were at home you would thrash them, talk about beating them away from home. It might not always work, but it shows intent. Something that has been lacking when India leaves home.

Posted by deepak_sholapurkar on (September 16, 2011, 3:14 GMT)

Ok Harsha, So BCCI needs to put indian cricket team ahead of IPL? Then none of the Indian players in england should play Champions league. Is that possible

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 3:11 GMT)

hit the spot as always... It seems all the postmortem has pointed out what needs to be done... But will it?

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Harsha BhogleClose
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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