Harsha Bhogle
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Commentator, television presenter and writer

India's system needs overhauling, not tweaking

Pitches, the selection process, itineraries, attitudes - they all have to change if India wish to have a real, long-term shot at being No. 1

Harsha Bhogle

January 27, 2012

Comments: 119 | Text size: A | A

Virat Kohli gets a hug from Ishant Sharma after his century, Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 3rd day, January 26, 2012
What if Ishant and Virat each played a season of county cricket? © Getty Images

Even as India continue to stumble in Australia, the reactions to my suggestion last week, to recalibrate domestic cricket, indicate there is a demand for action and accountability. The current system is inconsistent and, as we have seen with the BCCI's stance on the DRS, the board does not like inconsistency. And so change becomes imperative if intent - a great desire to be the best cricket team in the world - is uppermost on the list of priorities.

When I suggested a 12-team format many asked what would happen to talented cricketers from, say, Kerala. My idea of merging states is not that one annexes the other and subjugates it. The system should require each team to search deep within its territory for ability and to produce the best team. That is why I believe the grant to state associations should be capped and the prize for winning the Ranji Trophy should be huge, maybe in the region of Rs 10 crore (US$1.8 million approx). It will mean that greater income can only come from producing the best team. Organisations that rely on grants, as we have seen with federations in charge of other sports, degenerate into lazy, bloated entities. They become drones, not bees.

But there can be no progress in domestic cricket unless we make good pitches - an issue that is particularly relevant after the deeply disappointing Ranji Trophy final. The BCCI must encourage each of the 12 teams to produce good wickets, for that is the only way you can have good matches and produce good cricketers. The discussion on pitches in Indian cricket must by now have celebrated its golden jubilee; it certainly has gone past silver. And as the statistics from this year's Ranji Trophy show, scoring a century is as easy as having an opinion. When too many runs are scored, it can only mean the pitches are one-sided and the bowling is not good enough, and that therefore the batsmen are not learning enough. I would like to believe pitches will improve but I wouldn't be betting my first, let alone my last, rupee on it.

The legacy of the vote, and its importance over everything else, also leads to the most outdated system in Indian cricket - the one of zone-wise selectors. I have spoken to many people about its relevance and have yet to get a logical reply. The most common one is that with 27 teams and so many games, each selector can watch matches in his territory. But the Ranji Trophy is no longer zone-based and the Duleep Trophy is a relic of another time, so the idea of a zonal selector is redundant. The moment a selector is appointed by one zone, it is implied, even if it is not said, that he has to promote talent from his area. Another example of a system created to feed a wrong end.

And so we need to appoint the best men - those who have the time and passion - and trust them. For decades the secretary of the BCCI has sat in on selection committee meetings as the convenor. It is only natural that his views will be known, and given the power he wields, his point of view is the one most likely to take precedence. The system promotes centralised power, and that can never produce good organisations. The selectors need to be trusted, for that is the basis of all appointments, and be left alone to pick their team.

In recent years there has been much talk of what to do with the National Cricket Academy, a wonderfully staffed place created with the right intent. Increasingly it becomes a rehab centre or, as a friend put it, a garage, not a factory. People with large reputations and no time have been asked to lead it. It is the bane of all India - our obsession with the celebrity. The head of the NCA has to be someone who derives great pride from being that; to whom it is something to aspire to, not just another thing to do after the biggest achievements are past. The head of the NCA could be a hockey player, an event manager, anyone who knows how to run an efficient organisation, for the coaches will always be there. This premise of only having cricketers run cricket is a seriously flawed, even dangerous, one for the job requires skills a cricketer may not possess. If he does, that's excellent, but it is not an assumption that can safely be made. Cricket for cricketers is a great thought, an essential thought, but cricket only by cricketers rarely so.

The head of the NCA could be a hockey player, an event manager, anyone who knows how to run an efficient organisation for the coaches will always be there. This premise of only having cricketers run cricket is a seriously flawed, even dangerous, one for the job requires skills a cricketer may not possess

For some time now India's young cricketers have looked less than ready for international cricket. Yes, they do go on the odd A tour but they need to play more, and I would love to see them encouraged to play overseas. Ishant Sharma would have become a better bowler, Virat Kohli a better batsman, if they had spent a month and a half, even an entire season, playing in England. Apart from their cricket, they would have learnt to look after themselves and to handle responsibility. But the BCCI is currently strongly opposed to players playing overseas. Maybe the idea is to manage workload, but it isn't working.

Ideally the selectors should have dossiers on the top 30 players, with notes in them like a doctor would make for patients. (X needs to play in England, Y needs exposure to bouncy tracks, Z needs rest and rehab, for example) Indeed, it should be mandatory and could be one way of judging selectors. The old "watch and go with the hunch" is far too empirical. It cannot guarantee continuity and is way too haphazard.

The tours of England and Australia have exposed vast deficiencies in the field, and part of the reason is that at Under-17 and U-19 level, coaches focus far too much on cricketing skills and too little on athletic skills. That could be one reason why the development of fast bowlers is a bit like the scripts in Hindi movies: occasionally one will make you sit up but far too many will get lost.

I am enormously excited by Umesh Yadav because he looks an athlete and wants to bowl fast. He needs to be protected from people who don't understand what that means. But searching for, and grooming, fast bowlers (not medium-pacers or the incomprehensible "fast-medium", but "fast" bowlers) needs to become an immediate priority.

And I think the Punjab Cricket Association might have a very good point when it says it will not allow players below 21 to play the IPL. Maybe an "adult" classification for this form of cricketing entertainment. They can always learn to play 20-overs cricket but may find the textbooks a bit tougher if they have to go from T20 to five-day cricket. It isn't a bad suggestion because it only delays entry to 20-over cricket. It doesn't reject it, for that would be folly in today's times.

There are many other issues to engage attention but these are my choices. And this is but a draft that some others could polish, provided they have the right intent. The current system of Indian cricket will, at best, allow India to flirt with the top ranking but cannot ensure a long run at the top.

India need this debate, but it has to begin with an acceptance of the fact that the system has to transform itself from being obsessed with the profit-loss statement to a healthy infatuation with a win-loss statement.

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

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Posted by gauntlet1 on (January 30, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

You guys are all nuts, every cricketer, every team goes through bad spots, this is India's turn. Not too long ago, everyone was calling for Ponting's head. Team India will bounce back, and yes they do need to get young players, but not because they lost two series. To say that the senior players need to go is just ridiculous. We were disappointed, Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar did not score like they should, its two series that went bad. Hold your horses, and lets go through the process sensibly. We should also note that Australia, England and the top teams lose series outside of their backyard. Look at England against Pakistan. Don't forget both England and Australia lost in India. They will both lose again in India, likewise India will lose in England and Australia. India will bounce back..

Posted by Now_or_Never on (January 30, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

I agree with all of ur suggestions but there is a problem. Its been there forever in India. People are good at suggesting, advising, criticizing etc. but seldom do they DO something on their own. It is this indifference from the 'knowledgeable' that is the main reason for changes not being implemented. I know that u have an MBA from the prestigious IIM-A and have immense knowledge in the field of cricket. I, as a fan of Indian cricket, would like to see u take up a post where u can put ur above words to action. Unless people like u try, all the common fan can do is to feel bad and do nothing for the powerful themselves don't care. Blogs are good platform to vent ur anger but when u have the potential to do more then PLEASE DO SO!

Yours Sincerely, Indian Cricket Fan

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (January 30, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

One of the worst ideas to invest big money as prize for winning Ranji. It will only make rich clubs richer. You need the following (1) Differentiate the wickets. make some fast, som spin and some sporting wickets. (2) Provide money to install speed measuring systems at the smallest twon level. It will make children compete in bowlling speed (3) Upcoming players should have chance to represent in national teams. A revolving system is needed where permanent players should be rested in low key games. India's great batsmen have kept the possibilities blocked for a whole generation. (4) Allow Ranji teams to play at least two foriegn players each (5) Let players play county (6) Employ great fast bowlers of subcontinent to coach young bowlers of age 14-18. ( 7) Divert more money towards Firstclass and even club cricket. (8) Make academies at small town level and no player should be made to pay to attend them. (9) Cut IPL salaries to max. 400.000 dollars and keep the minimum cap at 75.000 (10

Posted by   on (January 30, 2012, 11:55 GMT)

Change of Ranji format to Elite and Plate league was welcome since it threw up new faces in the form of MS Dhoni, Saurabh Tiwary, Varun Aaron & Umesh Yadav who were picked from the weak teams like Jharkhand & Vidharbha who have never been promoted to the Elite level of the ranji trophy during the past 10 years. As far as my suggestion is concerned, this system should continue but Ranji Trophy performance should not be the only criteria for selection. I will go with Mr. Sumeet Gupta's comments in your earlier article where he suggested making Duleep Trophy a premier tournament and played on a home and away basis and being run parallel with the Ranji Trophy. I am posting this comment after watching today's match of West zone vs East Zone which was a thriller going till last session. But the reserve players in the west zone have to wait for one more year to exhibit their talent at Duleep Trophy level. In Duleep Trophy, you have the best combination of 15 players to select from each zone

Posted by ccrriicc on (January 30, 2012, 2:36 GMT)

We have too many Queen bees Harshaji - we need hard working drones - you got it a little worng - but so long as the overhaul is concerned - there is no other alternative - Indian public should reject all cosmetic fixes and demand removal of Pawars, Srinivasans, Shuklas and Srikkanths - they have starngled change by keeping any one who knows anything about Indian cricket on their payroll which makes Gavaskars, Shasrtri's and many others as suspect as any one - no supports body should have such unbridled power. About players - you can not force people to retire - but you can drop them and let them in only when they are in form irrespective of their chronological age. Mr. Gavaskar thinks that we should be patient with Mr. Dhoni - so there you go!It seems Indian cricket will continue to remain a corporation of good intent and corrpt execution.

Posted by   on (January 30, 2012, 0:31 GMT)

I totally agree with Harsha, 0-8 should be enough indication that an overhaul is due.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (January 29, 2012, 22:48 GMT)

For once,I completely agree with Bhogle.The current BCCI has no interest in formats of the game that offer them little oppurtunity to gain money for themselves.People passionate about the quality of Indian cricket should be running the BCCI.Pitches at first-class level set the tone for the technique a batsmen or bowler develops,a variety of pitches creates a solid technique.Coaching is the next important element & coaching is what the English do best.Young Indians with potential should have spent a season in England before making their test debuts for India.

Posted by SagirParkar on (January 29, 2012, 16:12 GMT)

excellently put Harsha.. i was a bit late in reading your article about restructuring the domestic game but from the comments, i infer that many people misterpreted the suggestion.. i completely agree that Ranji trophy, and not Duleep or IPL should be the pinnacle of the domestic scene and the lesser the number of teams spread regionally the better the players they select. at the moment there are far too many players but not much of talent. Pitches, selection process, political interference and other maladies need to improve. there has to be a sense of pride in playing cricket and a big prize on playing for the country rather than franchise. There have to be changes from the top to the grass roots. things will not change overnight but it will take years but cricket followers and administrators have to be patient during the transition. Whether the vested interests of politicians and businessmen will allow that to happen remains to be seen.

Posted by   on (January 29, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

Why Indian fans are so fearful of letting old guard go? What will happen at most? You are already losing with them anyway.. They are past their prime and move on now. Find some young lads and give them chance to prove. you will find new STs and RDs in due course of time. Look at out team, (Pakistan) we have moved on and found success even without Amirs, Asifs, Inzis and Yousoufs..

No one is bigger than the game.. not even ST.. esp in current miserable form..

Posted by   on (January 29, 2012, 5:16 GMT)

may the management and bcci see this....one more thing i observed....look at hussey and ricky ...superb fielders even though there age is 37...laxman with all due respect to his batting...see at his fielding...why laxman...see ashwin zaheer ....bcci should only select players who are fit even at 40...does not matter if u r superb batsmen...just for ur batting cant select you...sorry to say there a lot of difference in inidan test team...mind u i am nt saying one day...test team and other countries test team only in fitness...if we start focusing on that...we can definitely win matches...if u r better and fitter....you will automatically give more than 100%...

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (January 28, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

Bring back Kapi ldev,Bishan,Prasanna from their retirements,and bring back Lala Amarnath from his grave.Indian will win.

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (January 28, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

hmm sir, so..despite all these failures,you are still talking about being the number one.India must overhaul everything not to be no.1,but to SURVIVE.

Posted by Sudahar on (January 28, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

Most of the media and cricket loving public has started criticising the senior players and crying for their blood. But what responsibility is the BCCI going to take. Being the most powerful and the richest cricketing body has the BCCI done the right thing by the Indian Cricket. The least of having good wickets that would help the players perform equally well when they tour overseas has not been accomplished. This is proof when you see how well the team performce locally and lack overseas. See how professionally the Australian cricket is run. This was supposed to be the weakest team yet the system has ensured that they have analysed every Indian batsman and how to counter eveybowler. It's time BCCI stops flexing it's muscle to stop smaller cricketing nations hosting T20 tournaments and start having Indian cricket at it's heart and as No 1 in it's priority list. It's the BCCI that should take responsibility for the Indian team's debacle overseas.

Posted by   on (January 28, 2012, 15:06 GMT)

superb story..... Cricket fans 'a must read'.

Posted by jitesh24 on (January 28, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

@enigma77543 - In India we have flat pitches which are far easier to bat on for all the players almost so the batsman from Aus , NZ , SA , England can play well here also , what I think the immidiate need is to change our controlling system so called "BCCI".

Posted by   on (January 28, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

Australia beat India 4-0,India beat Australia 2-0,Pakistan beat England 2-0.Only because of ideal home conditions.Can really Australia beat India 3-0 in Indian conditions.A big question mark.

Posted by rickywanting on (January 28, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

Bhogle says about T20 and PCA decision: "It doesn't reject it, for that would be folly in today's times." By "today's times", he means the times when we must try to grab as much money as possible, as quickly as possible. Bhogle does not see the faults of T20 cricket because he was employed by Mumbai Indians, and maybe hopes to again earn money from IPL. By joining the IPL bandwagon he has stopped being a journalist - his credibility as an independent voice is over because he accepted money from people he was supposed to comment on. As they say credibility is like virginity, you lose it once and for ever.

Posted by conquerer47 on (January 28, 2012, 10:56 GMT)

I think we have to do lot of retrospect inwards, have good process of selection of selectors, players & pitches. 1. BCCI should built 4 or 5 cricket stadium in places like HP, Punjab, Assam and Mangalore, relatively cooler most part of the yr. Pitches shld be similar toEngland. WI,Australia, SA and NZ.Ranji Qlfyng Team matches shld be played in these places. 2. Indian cricketers irrespective of their schedules, play a min of 5 matches. 3. Selectors for each version of game,Test - shld be purely based on past test record it will be paid services, they should be transparent and meeting to be minuted.Common Chief Selector or Chairman. 4. Should have a Squad of 30 probables for the year in each version, only injured to be replaced. Captain&Coach with Chief Selector finalise the squad of a tour. 5.Tour to be planned so that two / three overseas tour and two/three domestic tour is fixed for Test and one days. Twenty20 is only IPL. After IPL it has to start off with one days.

Posted by enigma77543 on (January 28, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

@ansram, it's not that county cricket is "gold std" of cricket or whatever but it's just that it'll allow Indians to play in different conditions & learn to ADAPT, which is an essential quality for any great player/team, not to mention, county cricket tends to be more competitive as it's cut-throat professional-cricket (while India's structure relies a lot more on grants & money from the top) People like Zaheer, Srinath became better bowlers after their county stints, Zaheer was dropped & then went there & became a more improved & intelligent bowler, even Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly have been there, if some players could sneak into domestic-comps of other countries then they should try to gain that experience. As I've said, pitches have a lot to do climate so they just can't be changed beyond a point, not to mention it'd be silly for Ind give up it's "home-advantage" so any top team must have players who can ADAPT to different conditions & this is where A-tours, counties, etc will help

Posted by enigma77543 on (January 28, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

Pithes, pitches, pitches! Seriously, when Aus, Eng, NZ, etc lose miserably in sub-continent, do they go home & say "oh, we need to turn all of our pitches into rank-turners"??? NO. Obviously, pitches shouldn't be as lifeless as that of Ranji-final but talk of "fast, bouncy, green wickets" is non-sense, pitches have a lot to do with ATMOSPHERE, which CAN'T be changed! And let's face it, you're not going to be able to go thru with 12 teams idea because there'll be "discrimination" cries right, left & center. YES, small no of teams does help squeeze in a better talent-pool & produce better players & that's why Aus, SA for a long time have produced great teams despite tiny populations; so what's needed is to make Duleep Trophy more important & have more matches; let's have Ranji-teams in each ZONE play amongst themselves & then each ZONE puts its best team based on that & from that 5 zones + foreign-team (like Ireland, Afghanistan,etc) play round-robin TWICE then semi-final & final

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (January 28, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

I would first begin by sacking all the commentators and experts who appear on TV. These are the people responsible for making it appear that the public at large is stupid about cricket. Frankly speaking India becomes a miserably incompetent side with all their individual weaknesses if they don't work cohesively as a team. The problem is not with the talent but with the attitude. Indian players need to learn to counteract instead of going into a hole. Dravid and Sachin, for all their talent are masters at digging themselves and the team into a hole especially in situations when they ought to be fighting it out - counterattacking! And that's the reason their 3rd and 4th innings are so pathetic. Contrast this with Gavaskar who was the only batsman in his team and despite wickets falling has a 4th innings avg of 58! We need players who can fight it out and COMPETE! Not give up! The SENIORS(all batsmen save Kohli) need to retire because they have LOST it in the mind!

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (January 28, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

This is what we need to do immediately from the most important to the least important - 1. Sack Duncan 2. Drop Dhoni 3. Drop Ishant 4. Drop Vinay 5. Drop Gambhir 6. Drop Sehwag 7. Drop Sachin 8. Drop VVS 9. Drop Dravid. We will do just fine. If you can make only one change, then it is Duncan that has to be sacked. There are no two ways about it. We are unnecessarily making the three seniors the scapegoats here. There are way too many unnecessary baggages other than the three seniors. Recognise that first, before baying for the blood of Dravid, VVS and Sachin.

Posted by Aspraso on (January 28, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

@Harsha -- no sooner I read your article, I then read a newsreport which quotes Sehwag saying " there is no need for retirement from anybody in this team" -- such an attitude of complacency and satisfaction "for-job-well-done" exists in those directly involved in the play and responsible for the results, even while the bottom line reads 8-0 overseas tours.

Posted by   on (January 28, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

Stop bugging the Team India, it was the same case for Australians and Englishmens some time ago. Everyone saw what happened to Australians in Ashes and the so called the No. one side in Test Englishmens are beaten by Pakistanis.....Indian are going through a bad patch...U can see How punter was struggling and the so called Mr. Cricket is still struggling. Its the Bowler that Australians have won the Match.....only Warner and Hussy in one inn'g, Ricky and Clarke in couple of inn'g have contributed, Indian batting have collectively failed no doubt abt that....that doesn't means they are not good enough....its just that sort of the phase.............so stop criticizing and support.....These are professional and they are mature enough the take a call on there retirement.....Come on India we can do it......Jai Hind

Posted by Balamuarli on (January 28, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

RD, ST & VVS should retire immeditely ..............

I cannot understand why they want to continue playing Test ( all 3) & Oneday (sachin).

they have served or earned so much from cricket ,now they need to do some good thing for the game like Kumble or srinath .

so for that to happen, they should first retire and give place to young guys ..........

this is like relay running , they are at there end and they should pass the baton to next guy , faster they give , better for the new guy to cope up with the speed with oponent . if the old runner does not want to give the baton to yound and wants to runn the whole race him self then , he will finish last with to much gap between winner and him.

also feel they need the better exit than this , so i beileive BCCI will arrange one test series in india and give good farwell for RD,ST & VVS.

they desire stadium full standing avaition when they walk back after their last innings ...............

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 21:33 GMT)

I hope Tendulkar retires and comes back as batting coach. As it is said " be the light". Come on Tendulkar I am rooting for you!

Posted by DilipR on (January 27, 2012, 21:28 GMT)

Superbly put. agree with every line of yours..

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 20:49 GMT)

Dear Harsha,now ur talking like old Harsha,passionate one.But u still didnt comment on ipl,because ur agent of bcci like sunny n ravi.IPL is one the main culprit in producing big mouth cricketers like Kohli.India need honest captain not hyped captain.Dhoni is pathetic in tests,he should retire from tests.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 19:23 GMT)

It sounds better in theory but i doubt(more, i wish) it will happen. Indian cricket needs to breed tougher cricketers and better pitches at home.

Posted by Sreerang on (January 27, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

Does BCCI care? Fans will continue to feel desperate, cheated, desolate, frustrated etc etc, BUT, Nothing will happen from BCCI. Period.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 18:28 GMT)

Blasphemous it might be .. but here's the deal: When Greg Chappell jolted the system in India, Ganguly's spirit was stoked in years - even if by public ridicule, and as a proud man he came back a better test player. Sehwag, was dropped. Mistake, but it made him hungrier when back. Tendulkar's ego was hurt and he went about maximizing his genius-potential. Zaheer finally identified his medical issues, played country cricket and came back the complete bowler that he is. Players like Raina, Dhoni and Yuvraj were identified for the next level. The only player who couldn't cope was Irfan, and truth be told, it was a lot due to senior players in the set up bullying him, Chappell did identify his all-round potential. I hate him! Cuz he was flippant, trigger happy in media, and rigidly idealistic, but sometimes you need men like him. We were lucky that Kirsten, a strong but quieter man followed, who took the lessons, stoked the hurt, but stroked the pride to get India to top level.

Posted by crick-fanatic on (January 27, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

As indian viewers we can force bcci to do something, boycott all indian live matches bring down the TRP. BCCI wont do anything unless we hit them where it pains. Especially boycott the IPL and home matches where the indian team somehow win the series or most of the matches.Cricket should become the least popular sports like others in India. Now they are enjoying the monopoly which should be broken.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 17:41 GMT)

India's Reality Check #1 - Indians are NOT genuinely crazy of cricket,they just want entertainment and T20 and ODIS bring that.If they liked cricket, Ranji trophy matches would have full house. #2 - BCCI gives a rat's fart for developing the game.There is enough money but money is not used properly.There is no professional approach.No emphasis on sports science ,sports medicine and bio mechanics which are very essential for proper technique on every sport including running #3 - Indian public needs to change their attitude towards the game by not equating defeat in cricket with national shame.There are other issues which are of national shame #4 - The result of the test series would have been irrelevant had Sachin scored his 100th 100, even if they had lost 4-0. #5 - Everything will be completely forgotten once the IPL starts.India won the world cup but did not celebrate it because 3 days later the IPL started

Posted by Ganchu on (January 27, 2012, 17:31 GMT)

If chappel was the coach atleast we had seen some better cricket since these great players must have been shown the doors and some young players are in the team.Interestingly all are asking for dravid and lakshman to retire but why not tendulakar ? what he has acheived ? he also a forgotten force even he is selected one day series to complete his 100 th ton.It is wrong to allow him to choose his one day matches and it is very sad that Rahane has been droped .what wrong he has done.He hasplayed wonderfully well.Dear Tendulakar pls see that Rahane, pandey and lot are waiting.It is enough you have made lot of money, you are playing for money only

Posted by walker_me_13 on (January 27, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

5. Observe both in England and Australia, the bowlers seem to be bowling to specific plans to specific batsmen. I do not see the same approach taken by the Indians which suggests that the team management, coaches, captain etc have not sat down and studied the opposing batsmen's technical flaws and come up with specific plans. The bowlers seem to be bowling without a plan or even if they do start out with a plan when the opposing batsmen start attacking they lose track of it. This needs to be addressed 6. Lastly, Wouldn't be a bad idea to take along a team of say 25-30 players as opposed to only 15 when touring overseas. This gives an opportunity for the set of players not selected in the playing 11 to play with local club/state/franchise teams thus providing the younger second string players a lot of exposure to foreign conditions before playing for India. lI know this will deny them the opportunity to play for their Ranji state teams but team India will benefit. Its expensive but BCCI

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

Good ideas but its not that these are entirely new ideas....important question is whether the administrators are bothered about it. And I'm not too sure whether T20 and test match cricket can flourish together. Judging by the inclination of our administrator toward IPL (to be honest the short format has its attraction even if it is not entirely 'good old cricket'), the future does not look to rosy for test cricket.

Posted by Venkat_Gowrishankar on (January 27, 2012, 16:37 GMT)

Nice article harsha. Every indian supporter is actually very "hurt" with the current team. I dont mind losing 4-0, but where is the intent, where is the fight, everytime i see its just like going through the motions. Coming to your suggestions, perth or adelaide is no ways different to India, the temperatures there scorch up to 40- 45 C in summer, so its not that we cant produce those sort of pitches just due to our weather, i cannot accept this as an excuse.Fact is, do we have real Professionals to lay such a track?, do we have soil experts? .. None barring a few, i doubt most curators know what's to be done. How hard is it to just roll a pitch hard and leave green grass on top of it? ..even though the grass may die on 4th or 5th days , it atleast makes 3 interesting days of cricket. But what's the use of comments here, i dont see a revolution happening because of these comments. We are never known for our 'Pro activeness" .and unless we are pro active nothing will change.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 16:35 GMT)

it is realy surprises me that when we lose a series we start talking abt our seletion policy our domestic setup.our domestic system has been bad for ages .the last ranji final was for me yet another nail in our domestic crk coffin.as far the indian teams performence down under it is a case of mind not reacting to problem at hand.rahul sachin & vvs look jaded. PROBABABLY END OF THE ROAD FOR THEM NOW.THERE MINDS R NOT REACTING TO PARTICULAR DELIVERY FROM BOWLERS WHO DONOT LOOK VERY MENACING.IN HEYDAYS THESE SAME BOWLERS WLD HAVE BEEN SENT ON LEATHER HUNT.let us hope all the three of them realise & call it quits. abt our domestic setup it will never change bcoz the people who r helm of associations of the state r businessmen for whom it is a just another business deal. even crk who r heading the association like hyd r no better

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

had i had control of india i wud hav given harsha d control of bcci! v need a argus type review of our cricket system

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

With lots of money coming from left right centre if BCCI thinks positively should bring in the changes immediately and from next domestic season it should be implemented. Harsha's idea is good to have a pool of teams with experience and youngsters. Ooh God please help BCCI to revamp the entire system

Posted by upen.rana on (January 27, 2012, 16:16 GMT)

Same on you guys (Sachin,Dravid,Laxman) sachin- i have updated your name at my facebook as who is inspires me...but today i am going to change this because i am wrong...you can not win a single test with your bat....out of eaight, then what r u, you are nothing.....pls i am requesting you, stop playing cricket. Dravid and laxman, same for you pls give chance to new talent....

Posted by walker_me_13 on (January 27, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

3.) Although I was initially against your idea of reducing the number of domestic teams as this would create administrative challenges and also deny opportunities to players from lesser states I agree this would make sure the teams playing in the Ranji Trophy are the best possible domestic teams provided the selectors do a good job. I hope this doesn't discourage players from lesser states and turn them away from cricket 4.) The situation with Sachin Tendulkar isn't being handled properly. The idea that he can pick which tours and tournaments he wants to be part of does not help the team and its future development at all. Just look at how South Africa is handling Jacques Kallis(probably a greater cricketer).The committee needs to discuss with him as to where he fits in the longer term picture. I believe he can still fit in as a mentor as long as he keeps performing. But the selection committee needs to use him properly and intelligently making sure youngsters are groomed not denied opp

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 16:03 GMT)

It's the in-thing now to bash the BCCI & T-20 for all of India's failures. What we're conveniently forgetting is that the abject failures in these 2 tours have nothing to do with BCCI management & T-20. It's got everything to do with the 'Legends' not standing up to be counted when the chips are down.

When the Legends start to think of Individual milestones & saving their spots in the team, this is what is bound to happen. India won the 50 over World Cup with youngsters - youngsters given time & space to understand their games & become match winners.

If we can drop Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, Mukund after just a few failures, & put Kohli on notice, why are we giving so many chances to Gambhir, Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Dhoni? Reputations are built on performances, consistent, match after match. Reputations are not built on talent, promises.

Why do we make Ishant Sharma who has such a pathetic average & strike rate, our first choice bowler?

Posted by unbiasedfan on (January 27, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

Stumble! that's what you call India's performance!! Therein lies the problem - an absolute incapacity for critical introspection by all sections - media, administrators and fans. Would not 'abject' be a better word?

Secondly you are attacking the symptoms. The disease is that the administrators in India at each level from BCCI downwards to the State are in it for power, money and influence. As long as these are the drivers it is impossible to get any of the things you lay out so eloquently as necessary for the improvement of the game as these are simply not their motive. I would think it is safe to assume that in other countries the administrators do not wield as much power, influence and money as their Indian counterparts. They are in it more for the love of the game and hence can be relied upon to do what is good for the game.

For India to follow suit the administration structure and its benefit and influence structure needs to change first which I don't think is going to happen.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 15:46 GMT)

The best way to go forward is to handover the affairs to Harsha and Sunil Gavaskar instead of having Polticians and Industrailists at the helm. Let these 2 decide, the way forward and it is essential for all of us to carry good intent and self /ego should take a back seat. Let us go thru a grind and provide a platform for real talent to emerge and represent India instead of some inflated egos dominating Indian Cricket.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

this idea is not even a fraction practical.. why waste time writing it! the only plausible thing is the high value ranji prize.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

Hey Harsha - Save this article in your archives. You'll need this whenever team India plays overseas. This series was about winning and not about finding positives or how things should have been done. Your "overhaualing" will happen only when BCCI weeds out the "Pawars"; which means that it'll take a while before you could see some light coming out of the tunnel.

My Keywords: Player rotation ,Infrastructure, Transparent Admin.

Posted by walker_me_13 on (January 27, 2012, 15:29 GMT)

2.) We have not had a good transition process in place. The older players who are playing currently had to be phased out. We should have started this process couple of years back atleast. The future numbers 3 and 4 have to be in sight and should probably be playing numbers 6 and 7 right now and learn the trade under Dravid and Sachin. I know things didn't work out with Raina and Yuvraj. But I believe we should've persisted. Atleast with Yuvraj who had proven himself in the world cup that he can play sensibly. The same would've happened with Kohli in this tour had he not been persisted with. Youngsters have to be given a longer run. The team and its long term vision should come first, not individual players however great they maybe. The selection committee needs to have an honest chat with Sachin and Dravid and see where they figure in their plans 2 years from now. Laxman has to make way for someone like Rohit Sharma. He has been a great servant but without this batting he is a liabili

Posted by Mohit.Paliwal on (January 27, 2012, 15:22 GMT)

Pakistan has more dead tracks for pacers. They have a system to directly find the raw talents. Still they have been producing extremely good fast bowlers consistently. What about promoting under-19 cricket more to get the raw talents? What about revamping the structure below ranji level?

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 15:11 GMT)

There is a word in Sanskrit called 'aranya rodanam'. It roughly means nobody will hear no matter how loud you scream in a forest. That's going to be the fate of Harsha's and many other people's well-intentioned suggestions. We can simply forget about changing the cricket system in India.

Posted by walker_me_13 on (January 27, 2012, 15:10 GMT)

Hi Harsha, I agree with your logic and your opinion as to how to change the structure of Indian domestic cricket. Here are a few of my suggestions- 1.) The first problem that has become blatantly obvious is the fact that Indian batsmen are extremely fragile and susceptible to good seam/swing bowling on pacy, bouncy tracks. There are two ways this problem can be treated- We have to produce pitches similar to the MCG,WACA etc in at least a few of the stadiums around India. I know geography is a big factor in how a pitch behaves but Australia is basically a dry and arid continent and yet they don't a face a similar problem. I don't think it can be too hard to find places where we can create these kinds of pitches in a land with such diverse geography as India's. Another thing the BCCI has to do is to make the process of playing county, Shieffield Shield, South African domestic tourny etc easier for our domestic cricketers. I am not aware as to what the rules are

Posted by csowmi7 on (January 27, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

Yes i feel the time has long come for the likes of laxman to retire. Havent seen a man so woefully out of form. Dravid needs to do some soul searching as he has had largely contrasting series in australia and england. Tendulkar has looked good and has scored a ninety against england, a ninety at home and a eighty and a seventy against australia. if he had converted stats would read 4 centuries after the world cup which doesnt really look too bad. The future players are bright prospects. Pujara, kohli, sharma, rahane have the capability to take indian cricket to an even further level than what tendulkar,dravid ganguly, and laxman have managed to do.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 14:42 GMT)

Dear Harsha, I am not sure how many of the people who matter are genuinely concerned. Today's state of affairs is nothing new as far as cricket is concerned. What is different today from earlier situations are the boundary conditions.No. 1 the cricketers are pampered. No. 2: Politicians are governing the Board. No. 3: IPL is playing a mjor role and affecting Indian cricket.

Added to all these veteran cricketers are not coming forward to help build teams for the future. Just to think that McDermott is given the credit for all the discipline shown by the Aussie bowlers. We had effective coaches in Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh - If I remember correctly both were unceremoniously dismissed.

The sad saga of Indian cricket's new chapter has just begun.

Posted by shishirji on (January 27, 2012, 14:24 GMT)

as much as it a test for INDIA to become a competetive side once again......it is a test for fans as well to show how deeply they root for their team.......for the last 1 month all i've read is "sack them", "bring in youngster" etc. however u wish that to happen , it won't happen in a day, it will take time, accept this. however disappointed we are we should remain hopeful for a bright future......as far "pensioners" are concerned , i would like them leave on a high, if not atleast in front of home crowd. they have earned their right. .......current situation remained me of an article i read on cricinfo, where in 1999 ENG was booed by home fans after series loss to NZ, and they were ranked the lowest even below ZIM, look where ENG is now!!!!........so remain hopeful good times will come.

Posted by Vilander on (January 27, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

have pitches relayed in darjeeling,chail,dharmashala,srinagar and dehradun make them sporting, play lots of ranji matches in them, play with kookubara balls for half of the ranji teams. mimic every climate variety of test playing nations within india ( it can be done we have all climate zones), let us use india's size to do all this. let us focus,it does not matter if we do not win for next 4 years. goal: whitewash Eng/Aus in Eng/Aus in the next 4 years.

Posted by Vasi-Koosi on (January 27, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

Fletcher will be let go

The main attack for the next 10 matches must be Yadav, Lamboo (on notice), Oja & Ashwin; irrespective of the pitches; Going back on this tour our problem has been arresting the flow of runs at one end; Ojha is a champion on that; Ashwin CANNOT perform that role, if that is the expectation from the management, might as well drop him from the team; I feel Bajji is past expiry, he has not been effective even in domestic cricket; it is unfortunate that he is ending with just 98 tests

Changes in BCCI; folks like Kumble/Srinath/Dravid/Venkatesh seem to have some really progressive ideas and they should be given a platform to execute them; We do need folks like Srinivasan & co in the helm; but their role should be restricted to the front-house and not the actual operations; I am sure the Quartet will mind that as long as they are given the freedom and Srinivasan will not mind as long as IPL is planned well

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 13:53 GMT)

Well articulated as always. Many of Harsha's suggestions are eminently sensible. Some of his ideas, like the demand for good, pacy, bouncy wickets in domestic cricket, are almost as old as I am. I have heard them from the time I started watching Tesdt cricket, back in 1957! All it takes to seep everything under the carpet is a modicum of triumph in helpful conditions, no matter what form of cricket it comes in.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

wish people like Ganguly steps in into the administration and selection. Atleast he and his team had the perfomances to back the aggression that they showed on the field.

Posted by muski on (January 27, 2012, 13:43 GMT)

Harsha for all that you have written, BCCI only needs to look at a recent trip to Bangalore by an Australian Team headed by Trevor Chappell. The very fact that the Aussies think that they can groom their youngsters by playing in conditions alien to them aka rank turners in India speaks volumes of Aussie preparedness. Compare this with our young batsmen who literally dance to fend a bouncer that is directed at their rib cage. BCCI does not require the services of a rocket scientist. All they need is to bring a reputed curator from Aus or SA pay him a million bucks and then ask him to prepare about a dozen pitches all across India. All matches right from under 16 onwards to our Ranji Finals would have to be played on such tracks. Do this for 5 years and then wait to see the new crop of fearless batsmen and really quick bowlers. BCCI can avoid playing International matches on these tracks till they feel comfortable that the home team will not be trashed black and blue by visiting teams

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 13:41 GMT)

bcci wont mind india losing another 8 matches if they are making money.. even primary class students know what lengths to bowl on what kind of pitches. I dont know why indian bowlers esp Ishhhaaaannnttt dont understand this. What is the bowling coach doing? is he the son in law of BCCI president? Tell me 1 gud domestic bowler who can replace the likes of our so called spearhead Zaheer.. Wi

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

Also we need Greg/Ian Chappel... Remember Greg was sacked because he jolted the indian system but we did benefit as India got better... We need to be open to fair criticism and constructive criticism...

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

2 things are clear here:

1: Harsha shall be given a consultant role in strategy decision 2: Harsha shall write about the issue he has identified and his theory on what is is proposing to resolve it and provide a plan to remove it 3: Report to BCCI (Publish the report on cricinfo or his blog) on progress on a weekly or fortnightly

Posted by ttechlaw on (January 27, 2012, 13:22 GMT)

Good article. Like beating a dead horse though. BCCI needs to hire a CEO firstly, to run Indian Cricket. Someone who is paid to solely control the game, not some billionaire industrialist who is sitting at the helm, and leads BCCI, just for the sake of it. E.g. Commissioner running MLB/NFL.

Selectors should be paid and this should be a full time position. They should further be assigned "scouts" under them who will attend school and university tournaments throughout the country and it's outback. Furthermore, get a few athletically and physically talented fast bowlers, from either Afghanistan/African nations, give them a scholarship, have them play tournaments. Once the youngsters see them in operation, they will start emulating the fast bowlers.


Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

You've said everything I had in mind except a couple. We should prepare distinct teams for different formats - Tests, ODI/T20. Once we have identified some cricketers only for one of the formats, we should have him specialize and provide all encouragement including scouting for a position in an English county side or an Australian side etc. Planning should be such that we create good backups too. with juniors we need to plan 2 or 3 years prior to inducting them into the test side.

We must also actively pursue a retirement policy. Players due for retirement should be identified and informed a year or two in advance and planning for their replacements made accordingly.

Seems like being all about precision and clockwork, but can be achieved if long, mid and short term planning on these lines backed by firm commitment & ownership are made,implemented and tracked through.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 12:41 GMT)

Very Well Written by Harsha.. Hats off... In this process, We also need to groom young batsmen and leaders who can take responsibilities

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

Even Harsha knows that this will not be implemented as cricket has become too political in India

Posted by Rumy1 on (January 27, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

The Test team for upcoming home series should look like this....Wasim Jaffer, Rahane, S.Badrinath/C.Pujara, M.Kaif (Capt.), V.Kohli, Rohit Sharma, W.Saha (WK), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma/Umesh Yadav and Pragyan Ojha. The other three spots could be for S.Sreesanth, Manoj Tiwary, and PA Reddy/ I.Khaleel (2nd WK). Extraordinary problems need out of box thinking to solve. Look at Aussies. They have appointed Bailey as Captain of their T20 international side even when Bailey is yet to make an international T20 debut.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

its time 2 say goodbye 2 the holy trinity.. allow them to continue & obviously they'll pile up mountain of runs over the next 2 years in home test series.. but will that help to india's cause? NO. coz during these years,they are bound 2 retire & that'll mean absolutely new faces playing overseas tests after 2 years and again this whitewash story'll continue.. the youngsters like raina,rohit,pujara,kohli,mithun,saxena,singh,chahal must be given more than enough chances over these 2 years 2 groom themshelves

Posted by Rumy1 on (January 27, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

So we saw more of the same. Enough man.Time to rest Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin and Laxman. Clearly, Sehwag is the most irresponsible player in team. This is proved time and again. Good time to bring Jaffer, Badrinath, Pujara and Kaif for the Test series at home. Wasim Jaffer, Badri and Pujara would be a great blend. Kaif would be a great addition as well. Kaif has always been a captaincy material. Make him the Captain. Besides youngsters, you need some experience too. Both Kaif and Jaffer are in early 30s.Sounds much better than greats in 38s / 39s. Time to blood in Rohit Sharma too.Bring back Harbhajan. Ashwin remains an avg. Ranji level offie who has carrom ball. Ashwin stands sorted out by international batsmen including lesser mortals like Bravo,Chanderpaul, Russel, Rampaul, etc. Pragyan Ojha should also be brought back in. He is a much better bowler with lot more variation and skills than this Srikanth favorite - Ashwin.Time to confirm Saha as wk and bring I.Khaleel as 2nd wk

Posted by sreenath_kr on (January 27, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

Harsha is at least paid to write this article. So there is a point in his suggestions which, know BCCI will not act on. The expectations of we all Indians and expectations of BCCI (from Indian cricket) are not the same. We expect that our team plays really good cricket, always. Personally I don't expect the team to always win, but, I do expect them to play really good cricket always. What do I think is the expectation of BCCI? I think it is - generating as much money as possible from cricket. From that perspective is the Indian cricket broken? Not necessarily! May be a bad year or bad couple of quarters, that's all! How should we bring them to our expectations of Indian cricket? Simple, make their income from Indian cricket fade when Indian team does not play well. They are treating cricket like business and whether we like it or not, they are in charge of it. So, this is a call for action - the best Indian cricket fan can do is stop watching cricket until our team plays well.

Posted by thinktank1 on (January 27, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

tired of writing and reading the same stuff in comments section.. need a change.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 11:01 GMT)

Always loved listening to you and what you are trying to get across is right.Lets hope the people in charge take notice.

Posted by kanthreddy on (January 27, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

Great article by Harsha. I agree with the most of the suggestions. I would also suggest few things --> Pick 10 people who performs well in Ranji seasons atleast for 2 years consistently. Ask them to play one season of County cricket in England and one season of domestic cricket in Australia. Who ever performs well there should be brought into Indian team and give them atleast 20 to 30 matches so settle down. If they still fail, send them NCA and correct their flaws.

--> Dont select fast bowlers who doesnt have speed and fitness. There should be a yardstick for all fast bowlers like who ever bowls above 145 speed consistently over a period of time, atleast for 2 years should be brought into Indian team.

Posted by vijay_dinanath_chauhan on (January 27, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

Sporting wickets in India means losing matches at home for a certain period whenever a match is played at those venues,that means low spectator interest,less moolah from the cricket played

Posted by ansram on (January 27, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

@rahul - You are talking as if it is the choice of an Indian player to play in the county cricket. The counties have plenty of restrictions in selecting overseas players and there is not much vacancy there. If county cricket is the gold standard of improvement of cricketing skills, then why was England a mediocre side for a long time, until very recently. Depending on another nation to improve our players is a dicey bet - improve the infrastructure and outlook here and things will take care of itself.

Posted by indianpunter on (January 27, 2012, 10:18 GMT)

The test series which many thought is going to be a very close contest is coming to a dreadfully one sided finish tomorrow. By not calling time on their careers Rahul Dravid and VVS laxman who have given so much joy to so many people over the years have clearly over stayed and have lost the opportunity to have a farewell game they deserved. Both Sehwag and Gambhir have gone on record stating their preference to drop down the order. Some of the senior players have clearly lost the ability and the hunger to fight it out in the middle. It is no coincidence that youngsters like Kohli, Yadav and Ashwin have done relatively well in this series.

BCCI did not see a need for a comprehensive review after the England debacle and plenty of well documented excuses were thrown around to justify that performance. The onus is now on the BCCI to map out a clear vision for the future of Indian Test

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 10:01 GMT)

The first innings lead rule should be abolished from Ranji trophy matches. A win gives 5 points, draw gives 1 point for both teams. The first innings lead should be considered only at the end of the league matches for tie-breakers. Also, the knockouts after the league matches should be abolished. The leader of the league takes the trophy, like it is done in European club football leagues. This would encourage teams to play for a result rather than just the first innings lead points, and also to play good cricket consistently throughout the league, and not just scrape through to the knockouts.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 9:59 GMT)

didnt agree on the first article but the suggestions here are a lot better. but sometimes wonder whether the guys with power would ever listen. the problems and solutions mentioned in the article are the same problems and solutions that existed 10 years ago ,(pre ipl pre becoming no 1.)

I guess expecting bureaucracy to accept the right solution is asking for too much.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

The serious fans of Indian Cricket can talk until we are in the blue in the face about overhauling / tweaking etc etc.. But is anything going to happen? After all the talk, look at the pitch produced for the Ranji Trophy final. Is it not possible to produce a decent pitch at a Test playing center like Chennai? Was there even one player on both sides who could be considered close to international level and knocking on the doors of the Indian team? Come April and the IPL tamasha will take over and everything will be forgotten.

Posted by Y2SJ on (January 27, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

We need to have a second XI ready and half the players should be sent to England and SA to gain experience per season. And the pathetic attitude of players like Kohli, Ishant need to be trimmed. Seniors should be measured by performance alone. Sehwag should be reminded that he scores as much runs as Harbhajan Singh outside sub continent in the past 5 years.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

India needs to start with getting rid of the CSK management masquarading as Team India Management - Dhoni, Srinivasan & Srikanth. It is evident from the way they have refused to even get Rohit Sharma a look-in for Dravid / Laxman, in spite of the fact that Dravid & Laxman's batting has been screaming to get rid of them that they feel reserving the slots that will be vacated by good-for-nothings Dravid & Laxman for CSK's Murali Vijay & S Badrinath is more important than improving India's image & performance. The danger with a look-in for Rohit Sharma...he might click, making it difficult to bring Murali Vijay / S Badrinath of CSK into team India.....That both the CSK guys were found wanting on flat tracks in India against a mediocre bowling attack & therefore Chennai lost the Ranji final is fine. CSK should be on team India....else, India can go to hell for these guys.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

This tour india missed a great trick by opting out Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. Dissapointing part is we do not have a futuristic approach , do not knw on how to nurture youngsters and give them the oppurtunity at the right time.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

Players learn a lot playing overseas. dunno why BCCI is rejecting this idea. Zaheer, ojha have made excellent comebacks after their stints at county cricket. to improve batsman's techniques players have to be sent overseas.

Posted by anshu.s on (January 27, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

Most important step would be to diffrentiate beetween all 3 formats of the game and have seperate teams,mindset,tactics and planning for them.again i would urge the people to resist temptation of running down shorter formats of game by suggesting it as easy or trivial, i am sure as not getting out is a challenge in tests chasing 7 runs an over is also as big a challenge in shorter formats.Iwould also request the fans and media to give more attention to domestic cricket in India for eg- on an India match one can see as many as 700 comments posted,where as domestic matches hardly gets 10 comments on average,this neglect n apathy is a reason why IPL has rightly or wrongly has become the platform for Indian youngsters to shine n showcase there talent.i don't agree with PCA move to ban u-21 players cos that is unfair denial of employment ,it's bizzare that you can vote at the age of 18 but can't play in a league.

Posted by IndiaNeedsBowlers on (January 27, 2012, 8:49 GMT)

A few things that I would like to add 1. A Ranji final should be out right win. Rajasthan not imposing follow on, just so that 2 of their batsmen could have a go at 1000 runs in the season, reflects an Indian mentality where Indiviual records matter more than a win. It is this mentality that has to be removed at the domestic level. 2. I agree that the pitches have to be changed. But this is where I feel, that the home team should have a say. They should try to prepare pitches which suite their bowlers (who can take 20 wickets). I'm not of the opinion that all pitches should be green or bouncy. Pitches should be of all types. If the home team has good fast bowlers, prepare bouncy tracks, if they have seemers, prepare green tops, if they have spinners, prepare turners. The intent should be to prepare wicket oriented tracks, which help bowlers take 20 wickets.

Posted by mlkt on (January 27, 2012, 8:43 GMT)

very good mr Bhogle,....people like u, shastri and gavaskar will tell the fans each and every thing which can be done to revamp cricket including selectors, pitches etc........but u will never say a word about the IPL....U WILL NEVER WRITE ABOUT THE DEMERITS OF IPL...BECAUSE U PEOPLE R ALSO EARNING FROM THAT EVENT...why dont u talk about attitude when players like zaheer and dhoni are always fit to play in IPL...but r injured or need rest when it comes to playing international cricket......india needs to look for change at these so called cricket experts level too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 8:38 GMT)

To improve the pitches is a really good point. I also want to know what happened to Pujara, he played nicely but never had a chance to show.Also there are many cricketers like him.

Posted by yoogi on (January 27, 2012, 8:36 GMT)

I like sumeet Guptas comments on your other post. May be have 6 zones and only zonal matches should matter. That will give about 14x6 players pool which is quite better than any IPL team. Zonal winners can go for Ranji Elite. Zonal teams and ranji players can get FC status not all state players. Let states exist for inter-zonal matches that decides which teams go for ranji elite as well as picking players for zonal teams.Also allow zones to rope in one or two fast bowlers of foreign origin. In going for pacy wickets we should not let our greatest weapon spin down.

Posted by vish57 on (January 27, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

As a person who follows cricket close to 40 years, I can confidently say that BCCI office bearers are power mongers, though politically devidied, united as office bearers of BCCI, will never tolerate any change to unseat their hold. I still remember way back in 80s Kapil Dev was articulating the same recommendations but BCCI as usual head strong have stone walled every postive change. It is obvious that it is sunset time for Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar will follow graciously as well, they need to go but let us respect their contribution to be No.1 Team along with Ganguly and Kumble. All recommendations of Harsha can be implemented only if Harsha becomes BCCI president, till then we talk, opine and BCCI will do what they want to do. Our domestic cricket is flawed, fact that Rajasthan has won Ranji trophy back to back ( I am not discrediting them); no rising stars this year based on Ranji performance. Dont be surprised BCCI may take a decision not to play AUS,ENG,SA in their homeland.

Posted by boredkumar on (January 27, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

I have only one question and i dont know if harsha will respond. But having seen cricket from up close for so long, do you really think this will change? you really think the BCCI would do anything that has been suggested?

The problem is that the people who run the game DO NOT LOVE IT. Its business for them. so they dont care about issues like taking care of players.

What is required is a complete out cry from the public. empty stands at IPL may be a start.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

Yaaa agree wid u Harsha Bhogle,,,,,, In my view it iz forceful fr MS Dhoni to b resigned from da Indian Captain, Virat Kohli wil probably b da best candidate fr da upcoming future captain of Team India

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 8:27 GMT)

grt analysis..its high time BCCI start taking action...

Posted by AB99 on (January 27, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

It is a very cruel joke that Harsha is talking of this rag-tag outfit of unfit palyers representing India to be World #1 again ... I appreciate his sense of understatement to say the least. Viru - not mature and irresponsible, Gambhir - too inconsistent and hyped, Dravid / Laxman / Zaheer - still in use past expiry date, Tendulkar - selfish and unfit (compare with Ponting), Kohli - hope but arrogant, MSD - can't keep wickets, can't bat and can't lead imaginatively, Ashwin - too many excuses for poor performance, Ishant - still learning after 45 matches - drop him for good, Yadav - leaks runs, rest - untried as they were not MSD favourites

Posted by cricketpurist on (January 27, 2012, 8:14 GMT)

Dear Harsha BCCI will not care what u suggest why waste your writing skills on issues which cant change.. i request you to give your honest opinion on the failure of Indian big 3. Some say its the age factor and few gossip writers are telling its a rift btwn dhoni vs seniors so plz dissect this incident and present it in your prespective i am eagerly waiting for it to read

Posted by ImpartialObserver on (January 27, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

Harsha, responsible fans like you and others in the print media can keep shouting at the top of your voices. That's all. It's all rather bleak. Actually, there are more things going in the background in the BCCI, then even in Indian Politics. So, these suggestions will NOT EVEN fall on deaf ears. They'll just go down a clumsy drain. And our TV media is as happy as ever. If India wins, they sensationalize it, if India loses, they sensationalize it. If India loses and 1 person scores a 50/100, even that is sensationalized, provided they like him. Otherwise, even if India wins and the person loses, he can be stamped on! All these add up to pretty hopeless situation. It is just that the current aging crop of cricketers like Sachin, Rahul, Lax, Anil, Saurav, etc. really wanted to do well overseas as a team and hence we ended up having a good team. Until we happen to stumble upon another group like that, we just have to keep stumbling. It was a bonus that they were mostly well behaved also.

Posted by Jai_Sharma on (January 27, 2012, 8:04 GMT)

Rather simplistic. You suggest that Virat and Ishant should spend a season in the county circuit whilst the big failures and consequently most disappointing have been: Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir, Dhoni. Where should these go? Do they have a role in the short to medium term? Sehawg has openly suggested he would rather not open! Can he be accomodated in the middle-order? Dhoni was quite clearly happy not to be part of the Adelaide test!What exactly do you mean by "good pitches"? Bowler friendly? bouncy? spinner friendly? or perhaps flat tracks like Adelaide where again your team failed? Perhaps an honest review if it is possible in India? Perhaps ask Gary Kirsten and John Wright and Kumble/Sourav/Gavaskar/Kapi to reviewl? There are clearly two issues: Immediate and Future. Quite clearly Indian cricket has come badly un-stuck. How did India ever get to no. 1? Would India have won the world cup anywhere else but India? Whatever you do, be honest, India.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 8:00 GMT)

The question regarding seniors (Lakshman,Dravid,Sachin) is not answered.

Should Lakshman announce retirement after the poor performances in England and Australia?


Should our selectors dump them for atleast one series and select them back after they prove their form in domestic cricket?

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (January 27, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

Dear Harsha & BCCI-I had an option on your line of action. (1)Just leave Ranji Trophy as it is-it's nursery for all players.(2)Abolish Duleep Trophy & may be Irani Trophy also.(3.1)Start an IPL like concept for a four day tournament (WITHOUT INVOLVING CORPORATE OR WITHOUT COMMERCIALISM)(3.2)5 Teams x 25 players = top 125 players - essentially not to be biased on regionalism.(3.3)Point system should lead to the result oriented matches(3.4)BCCI is very much able to organize some matches on fast pitches outside subcontinent(3.5)Play on both type of pitches, Spin and Fast (50% each)(3.6) Every team should play twice each against rest teams one on fast pitch and one on spin pitch (3.7) When Indian players will have exposure to quality players & fast bowling pitches in first class - they will give better output in internationals. (3.8)Give best training facilities (3.9)allow ex-internationals of Indians & others to be1 batsman &1 bowler each for a team(3.10)to elaborate anything, mail me :)

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

Agreed on most of the suggestions.. But, Here we have not given enough chances for our youngsters then how can we say they are not good at this level ?

Failure of Fab 4 (Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman) has nothing to do with these drawbacks, all of them played enough county cricket.

Recent losses seems to be more with Mental block/motivation levels/tiredness, and less to do with ranji system, selection commite.

Agreed we need to have better system, pitches, better way of running NCA.. But none of them explain current poor show..

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

Harsha one comment stands out form the whole article is that 'Cricket for cricketers is a great thought, an essential thought, but cricket only by cricketers rarely so'. It is evident from the recent fiasco that we are lions at home but a lame goat in overseas. A team whose top five's aggregate runs is more than 50,000 is finding it hard to cope with the bounce and movement on the foreign turf. This forces us to look back at the domestic cricket and organisational mechanism of Indian cricket. Our demand for bouncy pitches at domestic level has gone to deaf ears. The batsmen friendly pitches at home makes our cricketers heroes and takes away the chances of being tasted at the highest level. The selection criteria on zonal based system encourages selectors to lobby for their own zone players undermining the future of the talented rookies form the other states. Senior cricketers abysmal show is d clear sign 2 change the Indian cricket from grassroots level before it becomes irreparable.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

Written like a management treatise. Wonderfully explained. But are the people at the helm - the 'decision makers' or the 'decision influencers' any better at deciphering this recommendation? I wonder....

Posted by manojbharadwaj on (January 27, 2012, 7:33 GMT)

What a beautifully constructed article by Harsha! The suggestions are very constructive - I am sure they come from a lot of faith, pain, capability, experience and intent.

Posted by Rajit on (January 27, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

Valid suggestions besides u needn't always have celebrated ex-cricketers to clear the mess,u need people with passion for excellence when a clean up is required.Does BCCI have the courage to take bold decisions? I fear there will be window dressing here and there...there is too much politics and madness for position in Indian cricket system right from district/local level.I have been a witness to that.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

First innings on bouncy , grassed and watered wickets and the second innings on a dusty turner.Give this 3 years and see the difference.

Posted by MIG_X17 on (January 27, 2012, 7:16 GMT)

Harsha played as gutsy knock as did Virat in Adelaide Test. Also we should mirror-image Aussie pitches, a lush green top pitches in J & K and in Himachal and should conduct some mock match practices prior touring outside sub-continent. Thus players will really develop a temperament as to how to play fast and swing bowling in bitter cold. But sadly, does BCCI or even players have guts to leave IPL money ?

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 7:05 GMT)

I strongly believe that BCCI & Indian Cricket Fan should accept the hard fact that time has come to move on with Sachin, Rahul and Laxman. It was due for long time but now it's on us. Indian Cricket has to move. To start with BCCI should take step immediately.

1. Ask Rahul to retire and give no3 position to Virat 2. Ask Sachin to bat at no6 and give no 4 to Rohit Sharma.

To me Laxman has still couple of years cricket in him and if Sachin bats down the order it will help him to extend his career by 2-3 more years. Sachin has batted @4 for taken responsibilities for ages, lets enjoy his cricket now without much pressure...

Manoj Singh

Posted by theswami on (January 27, 2012, 7:04 GMT)

I'd say a 14 team Ranji,which will be acceptable to all parties,later trimmed down to 12 .... South TN Kerala Karnataka + Goa Andhra + Hyderabad West Maharashtra Gujarat Rajasthan MP +Chhattisgarh North J&K + Himachal + Punjab + Haryana = North India UP + Delhi + UK = North - Central India Bihar + Jharkhand = Bihar East Bengal+ Sikkim Orissa Tripura + Rest of North-East = North-East India

Posted by candyfloss on (January 27, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

Firstly I hope this article is restricted to comments only from Indian fans so that we can have a healthy debate about the problems ailing the team or else this may become another thread for others to post their usually unsavoury comments.Now on this topic I completely agree with Harsha here we need to reform the domestic structure and PITCHES,not just minor changes we need radical changes.We need to drop both openers for starters its been ages since we had a fifty run opening stand abroad.Dravid needs to go too, his brief resurgence in England not withstanding.Simply put the entire batting line up barring Tendulkar and Kohli needs to be changed.And Tendulkar be put on notice another failure and there should be no hesitation to drop him.But first things first Sehwag needs to be dropped ahead of everyone,highly unreliable and flashy opener who throws his wicket away in difficult conditions with his excuse of 'this is the way I play'.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 6:20 GMT)

The first step is to admit things are not right. Not sure if BCCI has the wisdom to do so.

Posted by StanfordT20 on (January 27, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

Typical non-cricketer/management grad perspective. Loads of jargon, revolutionary ideas aimed predominantly at self promotion. For starters, you want to completely overhaul a national format that is several decades old and has itself produced several great cricketers and teams. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when our journalists themselves as deliberately attempting to wool over our eyes as are the administrators.

Wriddhiman batted for the first time this series, and played with such ease you wondered what the fuss was all about. He is a product of the same system that this man wants overhauled. H.Bhogle is alas only somewhat right - there certainly is a need for change.And that is not the revolutionary nonsense that is being peddled here. How can there be the greater good of this team if it is run by the ceo of a corporate company who has corrupt interests in retaining this team. Alas, the author of this article, as always, dared not speak against the hand that feeds!

Posted by 12thman on (January 27, 2012, 6:02 GMT)

First thing get rid of anyone in administration above 50 years old and who has not played first class cricket. Period.

Posted by faranian882 on (January 27, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

Great suggestions Harsha.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

Well we all know only BCCI is rich and not the domestic boards. Surely a revival time. Whats the use of BCCI having so much money when it cant spend where it is needed. Afterall Ranji trophy is the real cricket and not IPL

Posted by   on (January 27, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

Agree with you Harsha. If not Virat, people like Abhinav Mukund, Pujara and Mithun (who are not for sure 1st team regulars in their respective IPL teams) should be sent to england...1 season for people like them will make them much better

Posted by Percy_Fender on (January 27, 2012, 4:30 GMT)

The clamour for good cricketing wickets comes up every time India gets beaten badly somewhere.And yet when we start winning the making of such wickets gets buried.Domestic cricket becomes farcical as it was towards the second half of this year's Ranji Trophy.In the past, as Harsha and others will know we have indeed produced great batsmen who were well steeped in the technical aspect of batting. They had a terrific defence and all the strokes that the manual thinks of.In those days they used to play on MATTING WICKETS,which made it natural for any batsman to be a good backfoot player.It also ensured that their defensive game was very difficult to penetrate.And so we had the Merchants,the Mankads the Hazares the Gavaskars and the Manjrekars.Batsmen who held their own anywhere in the world.I am not sure that Srinivasan will be able to execute his promise of producing good cricketing wickets in a hurry.So why not have matting wickets again till we do can create bouncy wickets ?

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (January 27, 2012, 4:00 GMT)


Posted by Gerry_the_Merry on (January 27, 2012, 3:56 GMT)

Firstly we need to plan on a 4 year basis - the cycle will always end with SA in SA, World Cup, Eng in Eng and Aus in Aus. Every 4 years, this will be the most concentrated sequence of challenges. Preparation needs to be done just like the Chinese do for the Olympics, which also happens once in 4 years. Imagine the scale of a 15 month challenge in cricket, and the poor quality of preparation that we do... Secondly, during any series in any country, one-day matches must always be scheduled before test matches so that visiting teams have an acclimatization period before the tests start.

Posted by VT2608 on (January 27, 2012, 3:33 GMT)

Wow Harsha, u made me feel v good, atleast u hv accepted the need to encourage our players to play overseas (i had tweeted u abt this in response to ur previous article). In corporates theres a concept of Independent Directors on Boards of Directors of companies (mr srinivasan wud knw that for sure!), BCCI could replicate that and hv gentlemen like you on board :)

Posted by crikbuff on (January 27, 2012, 3:31 GMT)

Any assessment of Indian cricket is incomplete without an analysis of the (good and bad) impact of IPL. If Harsha wants to make credible suggestions, he should be bold enough to say that IPL has led to lesser A team tours, and lack of young players playing the county season. We have to look at the failure of Srikkanth and the selection committee. So many promising youngsters, but not a single debutant of the last 5 years has cemented his place in the team! We have to look at the reason our captain does not feel that test cricket is the most important. If he isn't interested, he should quit test cricket right now, and let someone else- Saha or Karthik, do the WK job.

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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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