Harsha Bhogle
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Commentator, television presenter and writer

Better bowlers, better Test team

India are much better at one-dayers than at Tests because 50-overs cricket allows you to win with good batting and ordinary bowling. Unless that changes, they'll remain limited-overs tigers and five-day sheep

Harsha Bhogle

February 17, 2012

Comments: 119 | Text size: A | A

Ashok Dinda took 3 for 33 against Tamil Nadu, Tamil Nadu v Bengal, Ranji Trophy Super League 2010-11, 5th round, 3rd day, Chennai, December 3, 2010
Ashok Dinda: impressive domestic stats but how will he fare against quality opposition? © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Players/Officials: Ashok Dinda | Umesh Yadav
Series/Tournaments: Commonwealth Bank Series
Teams: India

It should come as no surprise that India are doing much better over 50 overs than over five days in Australia. It is the form India play best and the reasons are not too difficult to see. India are not too bad, as we saw even in the Tests in England and Australia, over short bursts. Maintaining that quality over longer periods is a different skill, and like peace in the modern world, it is a bit scarce in India at the moment.

Most of it has to do with the quality of bowling. In Test cricket wickets have to be earned by inducing mistakes. In the one-day game, batsmen will take chances and mis-hits will result far more frequently, a bowler can have a number other than zero in the last column of his bowling figures without bowling the unplayable ball. R Vinay Kumar knows that well. He rarely bowls balls that have batsmen up in the middle of the night, and so in the Perth Test he looked like he had strayed into the wrong park. In the one-dayers he does just enough, his slower balls and wide-ish yorkers work well.

And so in a one-day international a combination of good batting and ordinary bowling can win you a game. That is unlikely in Tests, where, if at all, ordinary batting and good bowling is a better combination to possess. You saw that in the World Cup, where Yuvraj Singh emerged as an excellent bowling option and provided the team the balance it so needed; something he could scarcely do in a Test match.

You can see, too, that Dhoni is far more comfortable manipulating his bowlers in a one-day game. He can pinch a couple of overs here, three or four there, and get by. One-day captaincy is much more about instinct and short-term rewards, which we in India are naturally adept at extracting. We see opportunities quickly, we rush in, we are satisfied. A space opens up in a crowded local train and we edge in there, a new counter opens at a bus station and we are first in the new queue; our eyes are forever darting around looking for an opening because if we miss it we may not get another. As a wonderfully instinctive person who has his wits around him, Dhoni revels in these conditions. A five-day game is more like booking your ticket early and reserving a seat rather than charging around looking for one.

Maybe if he had a better bowling attack in Test cricket, he would lead differently. In the last eight Tests India have been very poor with the ball (as indeed with the bat, but that is a relatively easier solution to find). Dhoni has had no incisors; at best he has had molars, and he has looked lost. Fifty overs have come and gone without a change of innings.

But until India learns to celebrate bowling, this will continue. Till the production process becomes more rigorous, this will continue. I have been looking at Ashok Dinda's figures in domestic cricket and they are exciting. Sourav Ganguly thinks he is the best fast bowler in India. But how do we judge him if the batsmen he dismisses don't look like they will dominate him? Till he, or for that matter any young bowler, gets to bowl to quality opposition in domestic cricket, he will have to learn his craft in Test matches. Like Umesh Yadav is. And that is why I keep going on about the structure of domestic cricket. A Mercedes doesn't emerge from raw material of unknown quality. It becomes a Mercedes because of the rigour it is put through. For India to become a dominant Test nation and not just a good one-day cricket team, bowling will have to be a priority, and that cannot happen with the existing structure.

And so India will continue to do well in forms of cricket that require short, instinctive jabs, and will continue to struggle in forms that need discipline and sustained performance. Is that a reflection of the policy planning and execution on the Indian political landscape - short-term jabs rather than long-term plans?

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

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Posted by SagirParkar on (February 20, 2012, 22:27 GMT)

spot on Harsha.... well written and agree with you wholeheartedly !

Posted by Naresh28 on (February 20, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

very well put by @MIDDLESTUMP. The mountains of runs scored by opposition against India only shows where our weakness is. I read an article on ATUL SHARMA - pace bowler who could be refined to bowl really quick. His fit as well. india's problem seems to be with lack of stamina by our pace bowlers - we need at least quality two playing.

Posted by Naresh28 on (February 20, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

@here2rock - I feel Indian pace bowlers do not have stamina to last in tests. They prefer the ODI where they are still fresh. @shezhad we won this last world cup all teams were there. We also finished runners up in SA in 2003. In tests we need early wickets otherwise we wilt in the field and then this impinges on the batsman.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

If we have competitive pitches in Domestic arenas - it will breed both good batsman and good bowlers. Ashok Dinda has been brilliant this season on "Dead Flat track" pitches. he generated pace bounce and unplayable deliveries. Its high time new pace trio - Umesh Yadav, Varon Arun and Ashok Dinda given full time chances in Test Matches.

Posted by dailycric on (February 19, 2012, 14:07 GMT)

if bowling is so important, why is harsha missing the obvious point? viz. if you don't have quality, then use quantity. tests are won by taking 20 wickets. why do we never play 5 bowlers in tests? it is the foundational move that has to be made if we are to become a competitive test side. yet we are too busy protecting our "champion" batsmen, that we feel the need to provide insurance in our strong suit and then lament about our bowling weakness. in australia, ashwin should have been batting at 7 and ojha should have been playing throughout the series - it would have been a different ball game then. part of the problem of course is that dhoni knows he is not good enough to bat at 6 in tests, and so playing 5 bowlers will expose him even more than he has been already. we need dhoni out, need to give dinesh karthik a proper run (as the only keeper in india who has proven himself as a top order test bat), and start playing ashwin as a regular no. 7.

Posted by hcr75 on (February 19, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

As pointed out by most people, I think Harsha got it wrong this time. India has over the past few years succeeded because of the fabulous batting starting with Sehwag and of course the Fab middle order. Now while, we have some comparable bowling talents, I cant see batsmen coming through to replace these guys. Its time for Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman to go, but who will replace them??

Posted by   on (February 19, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

I always remain surprised; why India can not produce good bowlers and Pakistan good batsmen :(

Posted by here2rock on (February 19, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

Shehzad, it takes more than just winning two ODIs in row to win the world cup. India is the only hosting country to win it; it shows their determination in the shorter form of the game. They were simply the best in the last world cup played. They just lack willingness and planning in Test Matches. India doesn't need a coach but they need a strategic planner in the support team to realise their full potential.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2012, 0:32 GMT)

ahem.. tigers..lol, at best india is average in ODIs.winning WC doesn't mean much, you have to win 2 ODIs in succession to win the WC.

Posted by here2rock on (February 18, 2012, 21:32 GMT)

It is no surprise that India has performed better at the shorter form of the game. Since the introduction of IPL the emphasis has shifted from Test Matches to the limited form of the game. There is always news that who has the biggest IPL contract or what team has been kicked out the tournament. The welfare of the Test Team is not on BCCI's priority list. Why would they care? Some of the members of BCCI have invested interest in IPL. India is the only country where you can get away with conflict of interest. Plus India had poor planning for the tour, poor sections and lack of skilful leadership from Dhoni. Irfan should have been part of the test matches, he is a must for overseas trips, and he gives the team much needed balance. India must play two practice matches at Brisbane and WACA against proper State teams before the test matches, not meaningless matches at Canberra. Australia is not a place to try things, and you need to be test ready. They should not be frindly practice matches

Posted by MiddleStump on (February 18, 2012, 21:17 GMT)

@Ravi Darira: If you are talking about the recent 4 test series, please verify your facts. In two instances, Australia scored over 600 runs and declared. Clarke looked good for 400 plus and the team for 800 plus in Perth. In both tests, Autralia lost the top 3 wickets for about 70 runs. but the Indian bowling and fielding was impotent and thoroughly exposed. The focus of the defeat on the failure of aging batting stars is only a media circus and not the root cause. Heck even if Tendulkar, Dravid, and Laxman each averaged 100 like Bradman, India would not have scored over 500 runs which still falls short of the rate of 700 runs the bowlers and fielders were giving away. There is just no way for India to win without a resemblance of a quality bowling attack supported by decent fielding and captaincy. Dravid at 39 is not expected to be lightning fast, but what is the excuse for Yadav and Ashwin who fielded like pregnant women in the outfield.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (February 18, 2012, 20:13 GMT)

@vik59in...Once Rahul Dravid & Sachin Tendulkar go it shouldn't be that bad,both are legendary batsmen but India have worth replacements in Cheteshwar Pujara,Abhinav Mukund,Ajinkya Rahane,Rohit Sharma,Mandeep Singh,Ashok Menaria,Suryakumar Yadav,Virat Kohli & Manoj Tiwary.So it seems that India have plenty of capable batsmen but its about selecting them.The BCCI prefers Suresh Raina though!

Posted by sportofpain on (February 18, 2012, 20:09 GMT)

The quality of the bowling is good - Zaheer, Umesh Yadav, Ashwin and Ojha would be a good combination. They were never played together unfortunately (and in Perth we went with 4 quicks - such a big mistake. Essentially 50% of your best bowling attack was on the bench.) And back up this bowling with good fielding - Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Raina - and you will see excellent results.

We assume that in test cricket poor fielders can be carried if they are world class in either batting or bowling. That is ok with maybe 1 player out of 11. But when you have Dravid, Laxman and Zaheer who are slow on their feet now, we are losing a ~30% edge in the field. (Ponting and Hussey are terrific fielders even now by way of contrast so Australia does not concede anything there) When the gap between teams is small, that is a too much to give away.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2012, 19:22 GMT)

You need 20 wkts to win tests. ODI's do force batsmen to attack allowing lesser bowlers to pick up wkts without beating batsmen purely on merit. Further, batsmen have to force the pace in ODIs.

That said, there is something cool and collected about India's batting in ODIs. Something my team, Pakistan, sadly lack. We have neither quality blasters or apt builders (at a good pace). Stonewallers like Misbah et al have time in tests to set up scenarios for our spinners, but as is evident, they cant win ODIs.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2012, 18:52 GMT)

How many tests or ODIs or school cricket games has Harsha played? Any one with even basic knowledge would know that india has been losing tests because of poor batting more than anything else, followed by poor fielding by the so called test greats like 'Dravid' who has dropped several sitters time and again. Clearly that affects the bowling morale big time. Of all the stories about test cricket being different than ODIs spread by people like Gavaskar, the last time i checked both formats need runs to be scored and wickets to be taken. Get more people like kohli into the team and see how we start winning again..

Posted by blogossip on (February 18, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

sorry harsha, its mainly the batting which led to 8-0. Fab4e have flopped and its time for youth to replace the aging stars.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2012, 18:26 GMT)

India should have quality 'pace assisting' wickets for their domstic games in order to produce quality pacemen.

Posted by MiddleStump on (February 18, 2012, 18:10 GMT)

Test cricket is genuine cricket. Bowlers win test matches, batsmen help draw test matches. That axion has never changed. ODI is a contrived form of cricket, and will never be the real thing. Artificial limits are placed on bowlers and fielders only to favour the batsmen. The unskilled Yuvrajs and Rainas make hay in ODI while remaining clueless in real cricket. But India values the shorter forms of the game with better financial rewards. That is the simple reason why no youngster in India wants to a be top notch test bowler. It takes more hard work, more guile and better fitness. Being a batsman in ODI or T20 is relatively easy. The opposition usually has 1 or 2 class bowlers and they only get to bowl 10 overs that too with field restrictions. You can feast on the rest once the main bowler is off. Unfortunately most fans are happy paying big money to watch irregular bowlers being pounded by ordinary bastmen. Since fans don't value good bowling as much as batting, nothing will change.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 18, 2012, 15:07 GMT)

What about Test batsmen Harsha? If we keep playing with Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman...we are going to lose all test matches. We need more batsmen like Kohli.

Posted by vik56in on (February 18, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

What about Test batsmen Harsha,does India have them in plenty? The problem is more acute than the bowlers.After Tendulkar,Dravid and Laxman then who?

Posted by moBlue on (February 18, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

@sweetspot: you wouldn't miss the sunset if the sun were gone tomorrow and replaced by artificial lights the world over!!! your statements represent pure sacrilege to some of us cricket lovers. test cricket over 5 days is indeed the ultimate test of a cricketer... enough said. i cannot relate to your pining for more limited-overs games.

Posted by sweetspot on (February 18, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

So how come the teams with the better bowling attacks cannot stop India's batting in the ODIs? And how come India's "mediocre" bowling does not get shredded by opposition batsmen in ODIs? India no longer cares for Test cricket - that's just a fact. Tests can be fascinating affairs but we have moved on to the shorter formats in a big way. As an Indian cricket fan, so have I. I just wait for the Test series to get over, so the ODIs can start. I love the IPL too, and cannot wait for Tests to become scarce. Why should we even care? Apart from nostalgia, I have absolutely no reason to believe we should keep Test cricket on life support. Kill it and move on. We're world champions by being exactly who we are. No complaints from me.

Posted by Vpx23 on (February 18, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

Well observed!! Realistic views!!!!! Very True Harsha!..2 Strike Bowlers & Two strong Work Horses are what is required. Work Horses - will play for longer durations/matches irrespective of their showing. Strike Bowlers- To be Rotated, so that we can unearth, find fresh ones periodically. If we do have a good supply of bowling fire powers yes all we do need are just committed batsmen with ordinary talents the least who can stand up and be counted.!

Posted by   on (February 18, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

Harsha, please do a feature in the # of catches dropped by Indians during Tests Vs ODI's...You'll know where the actual difference is. In ODI's, Kohli, Raina, Rohit, Jadeja....actually threaten the opposition batsmen with good stops that prevent runs resulting in batsmen taking risky runs...resulting in runouts AND risky shots to score....bowlers have good fielding cover almost everywhere. In Tests - Dravid & Lakshman can't run hard, can't throw from a distance - they have to be hidden...Dhoni is down to 9 effective fielders. Worse thanks to their throwing / running limitations, these senior statesmen have to be placed as close catchers eliminating the option of a spectacular catch, increasing the possibility of a dropped dolly and a discouraged bowler.

Posted by Ajayvs on (February 18, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

While i agree with the theme of the article, i dont understand why so many people are so happy to write off Vinay Kumar , before giving him a fair chance. Why do you want to pass judgement on him after seeing him bowl just 10 odd overs in test cricket.If you may have noticed he is bowling atleast 10kmps faster in ODIs. How do you know it was not team statergy to ask him to bowl line and length in the test he played.

Posted by ZedInLosAngles on (February 18, 2012, 7:38 GMT)

Harsha, your theory is definitely right but not applicable for the recent test series. The recent tests India lost was because of bad batting. No doubt the bowling is not World class. But it is the batting that failed terribly.

Posted by shigri on (February 18, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

No doubt Yadav is good bowler but the problem is both Pakistani & Indian bowlers are not performing consistently & batsman as well. The surface of subcontinent is not favorable for fast bowlers that is why in domestic cricket the gennienfast bowler will become a medium pacer.

Posted by nyc_missile on (February 18, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

I agree but not completely,we tend to over-estimate our batsmen and under-rate our bowlers quite often.One of the most ignominious and unprecedented defeats overseas-80 all out chasing 120 in WI-1997,where bowlers set up match on a platter only for the batsmen to come up a cropper when needed the most.If only our batsmen had played 20-25 overs extra in the Eng tour,we would have come off 2-0 at the worst saving 2 at least.They just couldn't bat a whole day w/o losing too many wickets.Take Perth recently,bowlers set up for a potentially attritional batting perf in 2nd inns,but guess what we get rolled over for <200.Atrocious batting, that too consistently has put enormous pressure on the poor bowlers who were shown up far worse than in actuality.Still believe we have a solid pace squad.Swing&guile in ZK and Irfan(?),pace&knock-out option in Umesh.Ridiculous selection(VK for Irfan) in tests and equally shameful handling by Dhoni of the selected bunch, cost us a match in Melbourne.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (February 18, 2012, 6:02 GMT)

Its true, but its also common sense. India's problem since they started was a lack of quality bowling. They have always had the batsman, but not the bowling. Even Zaheer Khan, their best bowler is ordinary when put up against other world class bowlers at the moment. Yadav is looking good, and Ishant is very good too. If someone can give them a nudge or two in the right direction and a few pointers, with experience they can become like Zaheer Khan. To find a true devastating fast bowler, India has to change it's value of cricketers. In india, everybody wants to bat and nobody wants to bowl. Batsman are like superstars in India, while bowlers don't get any acknowledgement. The fact that most supporters lament the batting failures instead of praising the bowling success of Yadav in a few games speaks a lot for itself.

Posted by inswing on (February 18, 2012, 4:51 GMT)

>> But until India learns to celebrate bowling, this will continue. Well India celebrate bowling, in fact a bit too much. Varun Aaron is a ordinary bowler, averages 40 in Ranji. But people think he is the greatest ever because he can bowl a few balls over 140. Ishant bowled one spell, for one hour, and took one wicket years ago and people still talk about it like he took 10 wickets in a innings or something. Never mind that he averages 38, and over 50 in Aus. India needs to stop celebrating below-average bowling first.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

I dont always agree with harsha but i do now. As poor as India's batting was, they can only win if they take 20 wickets. In a test match it can take a lot more than 50 or 20 overs. So often the bowlers got 2-3 quick wickets and then went flat. Even in the home series they won the WI on their opponents poor batting rather than good test match bowling. After Shrinath, Kumble and the likes (harbhajan also), their bowling became as ordinary as Bangladesh. thank goodness for signs of promise in Yadav.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2012, 4:17 GMT)

Indian team's struggle in test matches and doing better in One-days is really a mystery. Lack of good bowlers could be prime reason, but our batsmen including seasoned players, failed as well. 4-0 twice in a row with world champ in the team, is not a coincident. BCCI listening?

Posted by Elway on (February 18, 2012, 4:06 GMT)

Good observations but flawed analysis by Harsha ... India in spite of winning the World Cup (at home), they have been trailing Australia in one-day cricket ranking significantly for ages. They recently got white-washed in England in ODIs and turned the table at home. Hence, the right inference is that the Indian team will remain tigers in both Tests and ODIs at home and sheep away.

Posted by kpms on (February 18, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

@rahulcricket007 I agree with you that India's batting was the worst in the series and failed miserably and did not bat well even in batting friendly conditions but see this:- http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan-v-england-2012/engine/match/531630.html This match Pakistan got bowled out 99 on the first day on a batting track against the no.1 test team. Does Indian bowling has the strength to win even with 99 all in the 1st innings????? Other instances in the recent past(good oppositions):- 1. http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan-v-england-2012/engine/match/531629.html 2. http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia-v-new-zealand-2011/engine/match/518948.html (New Zealand against the same australian team) 3. http://www.espncricinfo.com/south-africa-v-australia-2011/engine/match/514029.html (Who can dare to win after getting bowled out for 96 in the 1st innings??) If the Indian bowlers allow australian opener to get 100 in a session on a first day Perth wicket. Then also do you think that way

Posted by RajeshNaik on (February 18, 2012, 2:30 GMT)

In short the article can be read in 2 sentences - 'Vinay Kumar is an ordinary bowler. Yuvraj Sing can not play test cricket'.

Posted by Rahulbose on (February 18, 2012, 1:48 GMT)

I was shocked to see V kumar bowling at Perth. Had not seen him bowl before that. How can a bowler like him be the 4th best seamer in India?

Posted by baskarak on (February 18, 2012, 1:38 GMT)

Harsha, I disagree with this analysis. In the last 8 tests we played abroad, the batsmen are the ones who failed to click. Save the 400 runs scored in one innings in Australia, in all the other matches they performed poorly. It is the price we have paid for keeping people on names rather than on performance. Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman, Sachin - All of them should gracefully bow out of the game . They have done yeoman service to the Indian cricket and they deserve to hang up their boots in style. But let them do it now rather than being told to go.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 18, 2012, 1:28 GMT)

Agree with @Xavier Vinod Mulakara - The bowlers may not have done so well, but it's our famed batting line up that failed miserably. Batting of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, and Sehwag was pathetic. Age has caused them to lose their touch. DROP BIG 4 NOW FROM ALL FORMATS. They are spent force, They can't bat or field. We could have won the first test against Australia, if our batsmen could have scored another 125 runs. The bowlers did well in that test to restrict Australia to a modest total. Sachin getting out playing defensively to a part time spin bowler like Michael Clarke? I don't think he is fit to play cricket for India.

Posted by Naresh28 on (February 18, 2012, 0:45 GMT)


Posted by CricketFan1980 on (February 18, 2012, 0:16 GMT)


I disagree that it is because of the bowlers that India is in the state it is in, right now. The same bowlers did the same thing they used to do from 2008 and till recently, the batsmen were in pretty good form and at least one of them stood up to be counted. Even in India, when India needed, Ashwin scored that century against WI without which we will never know what would have happened. That is the reason India performs so poorly when the ball moves around. The out of form batsmen did not get dropped; it was virtually the same team that lost to England 4-0 that traveled Australia. Expecting different things after doing same things is the text book definition of insanity. Unless the batsmen find the much needed form (which is more difficult the more the age), India will not be top of the test tree again. We need young promising batsmen who are technically correct and in form to get India on top of test cricket again.

Posted by   on (February 18, 2012, 0:16 GMT)

in bowler friendly conditions u cant expect the batsman to score 500+ and play for a draw...u need good bowlers to win the match in bowler friendly conditions..only a win or defeat is possible..so i agree with harsha..bowlers made the difference

Posted by Unmesh_cric on (February 17, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

I keep wondering why Ashok Dinda has not been given chances. I think he was picked once in one-dayers and after that he is in oblivion. He has got good pace and gives his 100% when bowling. Althought IPL is not a good measure, I have seen him troubling top batsmen. I remember, David Warner struggling to get bat on ball in one of his overs in IPL, even though he was not trying to hit. Finally, Dinda ended his misery by getting him bowled. He has been bowling well in Ranji also..it's high time he is given an opportunity.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 23:16 GMT)

come on harsha , the last time i checked india lost 8 matches abroad because of their batsmen's inability to score 300 runs in an innings, period.

Posted by ikingkk on (February 17, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

I think India got talent. They have good bowling attack the problem is they are not used properly and the combination has not been properly set. For a good attack they should bowl equally good from both ends. So the coaches should work on the combination and use wisely the talent we got. An Impressive bowling from Yadav who bowled at 151.3 kmph I think fastest by an Indian.... Luving It would like to see more from Yadav. this guy needs more support from the all quarters.

Posted by gothetaniwha on (February 17, 2012, 21:55 GMT)

Better Bowlers hmm, the poor bowlers how is it there fault that Dravid and Laxman can,t catch , see or move any more .

Posted by idreamcricket on (February 17, 2012, 21:29 GMT)

Let's get real. If the bowlers can't take 20 wickets then you can't win the match for sure. But you could play for a draw or at least a narrow defeat! India never had an allround bowling. It was mostly Kumble,Bhajji and before that Shrinath and many a moon ago kapil. But India never did so bad!So you just can't say that it's the bowlers who made a mess of it all. Could anyoney please tell me when was the last time Sachin stood tall in midddle of a destroyed Indian batting under lively bowler friendly conditions (when opponent bowlers are on the roll)? Tendulkar's failure at crunch time has been a major boost for the opponents too!

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 20:07 GMT)

I agree that we need better bowling to win test matches, but as far as Australia or even England series goes, its the batsmen who has failed to deliver. Our bowling has been sharp and incisive. Guess I am insane to suggest this. Now the thing is the results or the figures show a different story. But if you understand the simple things, in the last two test series, can you please point to me how many times Indian batsman have survived one new ball - made the opposition bowl 90 overs? ok. lets forget about this - Can you give me a statistics of how many overs in a series our Indian fast bowlers bowled vs Eng or Aus bowlers? Do you know the work load a bowlers have to take when they have to bowl 90 overs in a day??? Its no rocket science - in both the series against England and Australia in the beginning of the series, its the bowlers who did their best to keep us very close and our batting was a disaster which is why lost the series in the way we did. It takes common sense to understand.

Posted by Nampally on (February 17, 2012, 19:49 GMT)

It is well known fact that India relied heavily on their famed batting line up in the 4 tests. When it failed, the team Lost. That was given. Except in the Sydney test, the Indian bowling performed above par. If the batting had put up >400 runs, a very real expectation against an average Aussie bowling, India would not have lost a single test. An all rounder in the Indian XI would have made a world of difference. As for the ODI squad, it is closer to one's expectation of a balanced one.The side is young with a lot of talent - 2 all rounders, a wrist leg spinner,an off spinner & 5 seamers. Batting has young & keen talent.Above all its fielding is excellent. Now it is up to Dhoni to pick the right XI & be tactical. When you have a good team, it wins in any format.In fact had India picked this squad with a couple of changes, they would have been the victors in the Test series too.I believe Intensity, Determination & Will to win with good balanced XI, wins Matches irrespective of format.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (February 17, 2012, 19:44 GMT)

The main reason for bowling failiures is Ishant Sharma,Praveen Kumar averaged a decent 29 in England & Zaheer Khan averaged 31 in Australia.Sharma averaged over 60 in England & over 90 in Australia.India need to forget Sreesanth & Sharma & go for Dhawal Kulkarni or Pankaj Singh.Indian coaches need to be wise & send young talents like Unmukt Chand,Rituraj Singh,etc 2 play in England,the coaching there is much more refined & focuses on technical qualities.As for the batsmen,Ajinkya Rahane,Cheteshwar Pujara,Abhinav Mukund & Rohit Sharma must have more test oppurtunities with Virat Kohli joining the top 5.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 19:35 GMT)

Harsha, before you blame the bowlers, please keep in mind - during tests, our bowlers had Sachin / Gambhir, Dravid & Lakshman as fielders whereas during the ODI's, the fielding cover available to Indian bowlers is - Raina, Rohit, Jadeja....huge difference in the cover provided to bowlers. Ask Pollock / Donald & they will tell you how much Jonty mattered, ask Bedi / Prasanna / Chandra / Venkat, they will tell you how much Solkar mattered Ask Ishant / Zaheer & they will tell you how much Dravid & Lakshman cost him on the field (I guess not in public, but off the record).

Posted by SantoshGhirnikar on (February 17, 2012, 19:23 GMT)

What baffles me is that when you are losing badly with your "supposedly best team," what is the harm in throwing all the youngsters into the deep end? Yes, we will lose a lot (nothing different from what is already going on), but at least now we will have a legitimate excuse and youngsters will gain valuable experience. Who knows, this baptism by fire may turn callow youths into world beaters in two to three years. Case in point: Pakistan who despite all the the turmoil they have experienced produced a fabulous performance to whitewash the English. SRT, RSD, VVS and Bhajji, please retire if you have the good of Indian cricket in your heart. You days of glory are over. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 19:13 GMT)

Ravindra Jadeja scored a triple hundred (314) in this 2011-12 domestic season, you can judge the standard of Indian domestic cricket from this single performance.

Posted by idreamcricket on (February 17, 2012, 19:01 GMT)

If one admits that England and Australia got better bowling than India then one got to admit that India got better batting than England and Austarlia. So if England and Australia bowlers can live upto their reputations why can't the Indian batsmen do that? Ponting ( facing the selectors firing squad) and at 34/3 and 84/3 came in to bat and rewrote Aussie cricket history! Our ownTendulkar hasn't done anything in adverse conditions in the past ten years!It's always been Dravid, Laxman or someone else when India is dying!That made a huge difference to India and the opponents!NO OTHER TEST PLAYING NATIONS HAVE BEEN HUMILIATED SO BADLY (8-0 ON THE TROT AND ALL OF THEM ARE HUGE DEFEATS.NO CONTESTS !)IN THE LAST 30 YEARS OR SO! INDIA LOST TO AUS 4-0 IN 69-70 BUT MARGINS WERE LOT BETTER AND DON'T FORGET THAT THE ONLY FAST BOWLER INDIA HAD THEN WAS CHANDRASEKHAR!

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 18:55 GMT)

Of course.. it's an old cricketing adage: you set up matches with batting, you win matches with bowling. However, to put it squarely on bowling is a bit rich. In all honesty thrice in last 8 overseas tests: Trent Bridge, Melbourne and Perth - we did bowl out the opposition for a score which you'd back an Indian batting line-up in it's peak to attain. The bigger problem is (a) 'All-conditions' players. Top players find a way to rise above conditions. Kumble took bags of wickets in India, overseas he would keep runs down when India lacked more fast men. However 2003 onwards, he could afford to attack more and took wickets. Dravid scored runs ENG, AUS, WI as much as in IND. (b) Rigidity - to err is human, but to refuse to learn is a sin. For all their glittering records Dravid and Laxman need to vacate. Next test series is 8 months away, Pujara and Kohli deserve their run. Let's not expect players like VVS, or Dravid would not be missed. But the time for rebuilding is now!

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 17, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

Agree with @xylo - so Sachin, Dravid, and Laxman were playing as bowlers in the England and Australia tours? Get rid of those 3 if India wants to win a match. They are past their prime. They belong in a retirement home.

Posted by xylo on (February 17, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

gee... so Sachin, Dravid, and Laxman were playing as bowlers in the England and Australia tours?

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

dinda has been phenomenal frm past 3 - 4 months .he is winning matches to his team single handedly and the best point abt him is - he is an fast bowler who bowls 145+ with consistency !!

he is the leading wicket taker in elite group in this ranji,was the highest wicket taker in duleep trophy and was the biggest reason why east won comfortably !!

dinda deserves a chance in the indian team asap .play him when he is in the form of his life otherwise he may b injured and loose his form !!

rest praveen kumar and play dinda and aaron and yadav as many matches as possible to increase thier experience

if dinda can clock 140 + on indian pitches then he can surely reach 148 + in away pitches !!

dinda,yadav,ishant,aaron,abu nechim what a line up !!

Posted by vickyrIND on (February 17, 2012, 17:39 GMT)

The recent test failure of Indian team is due to various reasons. The first and formost is inability to handle the condition. Earlier most of our Indian batsmans and bowlers use to go to County cricket in England and learn the art of handling bat / bowl in those conditions but now a days none of our cricket player go there as they have IPL here which satisfied their hunger for battting / bowling and money upto some extent. On the other way IPL benefitted the players of other countries by providing them exposure to our local condition and upcoming players as well. So overall the quality of Indian cricket players got limited only to indian conditions or i will say went down while the quality of foreign players got improved with exposure and experience in India conditions.

Posted by PJ_DEL_BOS on (February 17, 2012, 17:07 GMT)

I agree with the author that in the past the Indian bowling attack has been ordinary at best. This is in spite of the fact that India still dominates test cricket at home, largely because of its spinners and the subcontinent tracks. However, what I don't agree with is the batting lineup not being blamed for its dismal performance in England and Australia. I do not agree that in tests "ordinary batting and good bowling is a better combination to possess". In fact it should be good bowling and good batting. Today, we see India struggling in tests because the batting was just not able to click in front of the swing in England and the bounce in Australia. Batting is not just about scoring runs, but also about being able to negotiate every delivery well and not making mistakes. Bowlers always have the next delivery to bowl at the batsmen, but batsmen don't have the privilege of playing the next delivery if they make a mistake in the previous one.

Posted by idreamcricket on (February 17, 2012, 17:00 GMT)

Harsha,please don't forget our great batting collapsed too in England and Australia.Just look at Ponting. He came in at 34/3 and 84/3 and rewrote the history!When did Sachin do that in last ten years in adverse conditions? Dravid and VVS did it time and again!Lara did it throughout his career.So did Kallis. But Sachin has rarely stood on the burning deck in the last ten years!I think if he could lend his hand ( or the bat ) in critical conditions in England and in australia it would have been less of an embarrassment!

Posted by musingsofamoron on (February 17, 2012, 16:59 GMT)

Harsha has got this spot-on. Test matches are won by bowlers (you need to take 20 wickets) and great test teams of the past had some truly outstanding bowling combinations (a single bowler would not do). India's is the worst bowling attack when it comes to tests and Harsha's analysis of Vinay Kumar epitomizes the reasons behind India's declining bowling nous. Something drastic needs to be done. Else we should not worry about getting drubbed on overseas tours and start clamouring for retirement of seniors!!!

Posted by idreamcricket on (February 17, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the blue pyjamas suit India better than the whites!One dayers are mostly played on shirtfronts with no more than a bouncer an over. No more than ten overs a bowler (that too in second or final spells even an attacking bowler tries to check the run flow).In ODI batsmen can spank a quick 30 of 35 balls and get a pat on the back. In tests that doesn't exist!On top of it there are no 3 slips and a gully type field setting so even batsmen with limited techniques can get away with it ! Just look no further than Raina........and you know......

Posted by m_ilind on (February 17, 2012, 15:38 GMT)

What about the batting? The three batting greats are pushing forty now, how long would selectors keep their faith in them? Somehow, India's selection policy appears to be too rigid! The team is crying out for changes, but are the selectors listening?

Posted by Rupesh2804 on (February 17, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

It will not happen overnight. We have to manage with what we have in our hand. Quality bowlers does not get created automatically. It requires approrach change from Primary Decision Mkaers, Fans and Analyst. We as INDIANS are Batting crazy country... Batting is most adored and celebrated cricket concept in India.... Every small kid and his parents dreams to make their kid like Sachin Tendulkar.... not 10% also would be dreaming for a Superfast Bowler...Also we Indians love one day cricket and T-20 more than Tests.... These formats in India are played on hopeless pitches... Bowlers are there to get punished... So at very younge age some great talent goes on backfoot and goes into negativity... That is the reason our bowlers bowl with defensive mindset... Not like attacking gang of Wolfs....!

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

I think for last eight test defeats,we should blame batting but at the sametime,we shouldn't ignore our bowling department which is defnitely weaker than the Australian,African and English bowling attack.

Posted by Sacy on (February 17, 2012, 14:23 GMT)

Let us compare India with teams like Australia or England with a different view point. Their bowlers were able to restrict a famed and able batting line up (India's) to a score of under 300 most of the time in conditions conducive to Swing, Seam and Bounce, which seems at par in the prevailing conditions. While our bowlers regularly allowed opposition batsmen to score 500s and 600s in same conditions. That means our bowlers gave away about 200 to 300 runs extra due to direction less bowling and under-utilization of conditions, which put further pressure on batting. Had they been able to get opposition out at reasonable scores, the matches would have been much close contests and India might even have won some of those.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 14:17 GMT)

I think,we should blame the batsmen for the last eight test defeats because they were not able to handle the quality bowling

Posted by PallabBanerjee on (February 17, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

Picking the right players at the right time is important. We picked up bowlers like Munaf Patel and RP Singh against the Englishmen in England, while Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron were warming up the benches. Then we picked up Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav against the WI in pitches where the ball hardly rise above the knee level, and then we picked up Vinay Kumar and his other Karnataka partner for the Australian tour. Strange selection.

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (February 17, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

If there was a way to bat more and bowl less, guaranteed BCCI would have come up with it. Quality fast bowlers. you dont win much outside the sub continent without them. Dinda and the others should beg and steal to play in oz and england to learn their art.

Posted by PallabBanerjee on (February 17, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

I completely agree with Harsha on this. Lack of quality bowlers have been hampering our performances in Test matches overseas, but is it not the lack of foresight of the selection committee? Just consider the case of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron , when both of them should have been selected while we played against the Englishmen, we Munaf Patel and even brought back RP Singh. It was more surprising when Varun Aaron was called before the last test match , yet he was not picked up in the final eleven. Therefore, more than producing good bowlers it is the picking the right players at the right time is more important, but will our selectors ever learn?

Posted by suli7 on (February 17, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

Indian media & experts always accuse their batting for their defeats but never blame their bowling witch in fact is really medicore. I have read so many comments here stating that it was Indian batting that was the reason for the 8-0 defeats . I just want to ask one simple question from all the Indian fans here? When was the last time your bowling attack wins you a test match single handedly? you lost to eng and australia not because of your batting but just because of your pathetic bowling that just revive the carrers of couple of ageing batsmen. in the recently completed eng vs pak test series it was the bowlers from pak side witch win them the test series 3-0 & and at 1 occasion sucssesfully defended the target of 144 witch proves that you can win test matches just by having the good bowling attack. good batting line at best can only draw the test match. unless you indian fans and media understand this i think your will remain pathetic in tests.

Posted by venbas on (February 17, 2012, 13:28 GMT)

Maybe the bowlers need to be read the writings of Harsha a thousand times as imposition for a shoddy performance. That might petrify them into transforming themselves. Humor apart, we did get some chances during the last series to atleast draw the series if not win outright, if only the Batsmen had put a price on their wickets, we might have had better results. Instead all we saw was a merry procession of Indian batsmen rushing back to pavillion as if they had no business to be on the field in the first place

Posted by mani86 on (February 17, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

Better bowlers, better Test team. Awesome Harsha, such brainy, insightful wisdom. Wow. Thanks!!

Posted by ansram on (February 17, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

I am not sure if India struggled in England and Australia due to ordinary bowling alone. Infact, they could cross 300 only once in 16 innings. Why is India being labelled "Good Batting, Ordinary Bowling"? India, after the WC has been one of "Ordinary Batting, Ordinary Bowling", that is why their batsmen could not score runs, nor could their bowlers create much tension while bowling.

Our batsmen have lost the ability to play out long innings because a) seniors are aging and loosing reflexes/eye sight etc b) The upcoming stars are better equipped for the shorter format thanks to the volume they play and also due to the tamasha league.

Indian bowling has always been ordinary overseas, the only world class pace bowler India ever had was Kapil Dev and may be Srinath, and even these greats were no where close to legends like Imran, Marshall, McGrath etc.

India has to do much more than improve their bowling at the moment. They have a lot of thinking to do.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (February 17, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

Excellent argument by @Richard Goodman. GET RID OF OVER-HYPED BIG 3 and invest in bowlers like Yadav, Varun, Irfan Pathan, Ashok Dinda, Shami Ahmed, Abu Nechim Ahmed, etc. Our young crop of batsmen like Kohli, Sharma, Tiwary, Pujara, Rahane, etc are more than capable of taking over from our geriatric and Machiavellian batting line up.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

Harsha has tis time hit the nail on its head.............................It is Indian poor bowling that lets opposition score big virtually every time.................hence indian batsmen have to always play catchup cricket.................All the test wining sides win by great bowling..................Batsmen score when opposition bowls badly

Posted by AbhijeetC on (February 17, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

Harsha, I was expecting something new/refreshing from you. you just mentioned what we know since 1934. bowling is india's weakness and everyone knows it. however recently india's batsmen are loosing games for India. I've never seen such pathetic display of batting from india's batsmen since 90's. even then India managed to draw couple of overseas Test matches. the 2nd point India never been good ODI side and average test side. you can say that to Sri-Lanka. India was and is equally average in ODI as they are in TEST. Your short term jabs theory does work either otherwise India would have performed exceptionally good in T20s. They even lost to England (crime) and lingering 7th on ICC table (unacceptable for a country which is ODI champion). I don't think that India will keep on performing well in ODIs. They will not. but currently they are better ODI side than TEST and it will be reversed in future.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

Harsha's analysis standard has been deterioting column by column recently ! Batsmen had not produced one good innings in all the 16 defeated innings and he is blaming bowling!How many chances selectors given likes of Dinda? none so why doubting the poor man's credibility and keeping him away from test matches ?Ofcourse standard of pitches need to be changed, but for IPL they will award pitches with highest runs scored so how the state associations going to produce fast pitches ?In India , historically they have abandoned matches played in bouncy wickets calling it dangerous for the players ! BCCI need to work really hard if they want change something but people like N. Srinivasan happy that India won couple of One-dayers :(

Posted by SamRoy on (February 17, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

Harsha, True, our bowling is not good enough for test cricket and everybody knows that. But what about our famous batting lineup? Can't even bat in Adelaide (except Kohli) where any decent batsmen thinks anything less than a 100 is a failure. First of, throw out the old baggages (Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman) and drop the out of form ones (Gambhir and Sehwag). Make a fresh start and then start talking about bowlers.

Posted by Daniel_Smith on (February 17, 2012, 10:34 GMT)

Speaking from an English perspective, it seems a 'hostage' exchange is called for. Indian bowlers come to the UK and learn to bowl playing in the County Championship and in exchange English batsmen go to India and learn how to bat by playing in the Ranji Trophy.

Posted by KarachiKid on (February 17, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

SO TRUE: "And so in a one-day international a combination of good batting and ordinary bowling can win you a game. That is unlikely in Tests, where, if at all, ordinary batting and good bowling is a better combination to possess." Pakistan team is a fine example which in 2010 drew 1-1 against Aussies in England and then at least won one match losing 1-3 against England (again in England), both results on account of exceptional bowling and pretty ordinary (at best) batting. Eversince then, Pakistan has been surviving pretty well on great bowling and pedestrian batting.

Posted by linusjf on (February 17, 2012, 10:13 GMT)

Are you (Harsha) implying that Pakistan and to an extent, Sri Lanka, have a better domestic structure? The reason why there are no fast bowlers of caliber is that Indian pitches are as dead as dodos. The Indian fast bowler is an endangered species in need of protection.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (February 17, 2012, 9:46 GMT)


Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 9:44 GMT)

Sunil Gavaskar gave the game away during a stint of commentary on the Eng v Pak ODI, he said on the sub continent the fans only turn up to see their team bat. The Indian cricket fan is constantly fed the notion that cricket is a game about batting, and the batting of one immensely talented man at that. We have just seen a thrilling test match series between two immensely talented bowling sides that despite being played on very flat wickets saw a continual succession of wickets. But in India I fear that a promising young bowler is seen as good net fodder for the increasingly geriatric and Machiavellian batting line up. Start putting Zaheer, Ashwin, Yadav and Ojha on you TV adverts and billboards and in a couple of years you might have a decent test team.

Posted by Captain_Crick on (February 17, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

India had not performed well in Test Cricket because of their lack of long term plan to practice on Swing and Fast conditions and various other reasons. Until you replicate those pitch conditions back home in Ranji and other domestic matches, the players would not be mentally prepared for an overseas tour.Coming back to the test series, the bowlers however bowled well in patches but lost their aura due to the ineptness of the batting order. The batting unit failed as a whole throughout the Aus and Eng series. The technique to handle quality swing and short pitched bowling was found wanting. Do note that India can still do well in Test Cricket playing at home. Ashok Dinda's won't win you tests unless you have him exposed to such varied playing conditions at home. The bottomline is 'Technique and skill' when it comes to playing Test Cricket.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

Believe it or not,the biggest problem for Indian Cricket may just have started.And that to me is a lack of interest among the people.Especially,the urban elite and the middleclass has gradually started turning away frm the game.And a simultaneous growth in other sports will take it further down.As compared to the 90s the interest has waned.The stadiums don't get full even for the ODIs.TV ratings too have gone down.IPL after its 2nd edition is hs been boring while First Class Cricket is nearing its ''end''. On the other hand,Indians have picked up to Motor Sports,the country hs its own F1 and the race got a big crowd more easily than Cricket matches.Young ppl are taking to Tennis,Badminton,Swimming and even Boxing.TV ratings of European Soccer Matches have gone up (which is absurd)!!! As far as the youngsters in Rural areas and in small towns are concerned,one day they too will start following the Delhiites and Mumbaikars.Its time the BCCI took note of it or they'll pull another Hockey.

Posted by kpms on (February 17, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

I agree with harsha. Because India's real problem is their bowling. For the past decade and a half , Indian batsmen always performed covering India's weaknesses in their bowling. This series they failed(even in England except Rahul Dravid) . In the australia-new zealand and australia-south africa test series last year . All the matches were won by the teams with better bowling in the match.If only batting was India's problem they would australia would not have had a triple century and 2 double centuries in the series and even hundreds.

Posted by sohaibahmad on (February 17, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

During the times of Gavaskar and spinning quartet,India's batting, Gavaskar/ Viswanth apart, was at best ordinary and bowing with world's 4 best spinners wasnt enough to make them world beaters. Dont even start discussing the fielding...

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

I agree with you shankarmony. The best example regarding this is the first test of the Aus series."Most of it has to do with the quality of bowling. In Test cricket wickets have to be earned by inducing mistakes." Bowlers have to improve thats true.But the same thing applies to batsmen over 5 days match, they have to stop (avoid) inducing so many mistakes.

Posted by dganger on (February 17, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

u knw what, amidst all the crisis and shortage of talented bowlers i see few of ray of hopes in coming years for Indian Cricket. What is required a clear vision to first filter the talent and groom them with the best of facilities. Umesh Yadav has been a real find and like millions of Indian cricket fans i am also also delighted to see an Indian Bowler crossing 150 kmph consistently. There is another one, Varun Aron, who had to miss this wonderfull oppurtunity (Aus tour) due to injury is another genuinely fast bowler who bowles consistently in high 140's. now challenge is to sharpen their skills without compromising their speed coz pace itself dose not gurantee result, but its a great skill to have, which we never had. I liked both the spinner Rahul Sharma & Aswin and genuinely believe this guys got the talent, but its another matter how well they can extract the facilities and training to optimize their potential. So future looks promising

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (February 17, 2012, 7:38 GMT)

Harsha and MS Dhoni are now on 2 different boats bcoz as per Dhoni India is legging behind in the batting and bowlers are doing good work.................

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

Right on Harsha. The team with legendary bats cant score 300 more than twice in 8 humilating defeats and you have put your finger on the bowling as the problem. You are so wrong.

Posted by mrgupta on (February 17, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

As very rightly pointed out by @BalkrishnaSapre Indian bowlers traditionally have been the whipping boys. Even though Kumble managed to get a better wickets per test ratio than Kapil Dev, his strike rate was poorer showing the amount of overs he bowled to get those wickets. Neither of the greatest of bowlers from India (Kapil Kumble, Srinath, Bedi, Chandra, Prasanna) managed to get a strike rate below 60 or bowling average below 25. Its a sad story of Indian cricket that we have not produced world class bowlers like our neighbours have managed (Murli, Wasim, Imran, Younis). I just wish to see atleast one Indian bowler who can manage that 50 Strike rate with below 25 avg.

Posted by donda on (February 17, 2012, 7:07 GMT)

First of all BCCI is only interested in promoting T2020. Look at IPL and Champion league. T2020 is killer of any bowler. It can riun bowler career in just 4 overs. Also fitness level don't improve by playing too much T2020 cricket. Temperament is required to bowl long spells in test cricket which T2020 player cannot. I believe that BCCI has made their mind for going against test cricket and playing well ODI's and T2020.

Accept it T2020 is future of cricket. Test cricket is not worth it when you count money and time saving.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

Like wise you can use Indian parts on Mercedes. But you cannot put Tata engine in Mercedes and say it is Mercedes. Quality comes from sheer perseverance and effort combined with Talent and this can never happen when the Administrators are busy reviving IPL at any cost that they can make their own rules as per whims and fancies of individuals which makes the whole system adulterated the same way our whole other systems like the Political system.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 6:44 GMT)

We cannot mow down any quality opposition with the mediocre bowling that we have unless we make dust bowls at Home. If you cannot taken 20 wickets consistently in a match , we cannot win test matches regularly and that has been the fall out. Vinay Kumar of Irfan with their pace and ability cannot figure in any test team the same way like Christians and Dohertys. If you look at the top test teams, they have 2-3 world class fast bowlers and that is what we need badly.Even Pakistan has always produced world class fast bowlers time and again (Recent whitewash was for different reasons) because of the physical strength of these guys. Compare the shoulders and physical ability of an Akram or Waqar with Dindas and Vinay Kumar or even Zaheer Khan, we just do not reach there. Can India imagine producing some one like Boilt?? . We are not even focusing on producing world class spin bowlers when there were times when some of the great spinners like Goel or Bhat never got opportunities.

Posted by S_Nath on (February 17, 2012, 6:40 GMT)

I am surprised that somebody like Harsha Bhogle can go so wrong in his assessment of the current problem of Indian test team. Let us face it, batting is the biggest problem for the Indian team now because the management and even experts like Harsha are refusing to see the reality that overaged men who are past their prime are hanging on to their places. When batting fails so consistently, bowlers also get demoralised and it is a vicious cycle. Even in India against West Indies, this batting lineup did not do all that well, it has been going on since England tour. The so called experts say, this is the best team, but I think it can be checked only if Laxman, sachin, Dravid etc play in domestic season alongwith domestic players and see whether they are still capable of big hundreds. I think with age, they have lost ability to concentrate for too long and are capable of only scoring 30-40 or 70-80 not more than that. If batting score 400-500, bowling also will do well as seen in the past.

Posted by spinkingKK on (February 17, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

Continued from my previous post.. There are exceptional individuals from India coming through every now and then. So, I am not saying all the Indian athletes have fear. But, if you take a sample of sportsmen, the majority will have this fear factor. Also, India can still have a fast bowler who is the most fastest ever from the 1 billion population. But, we will struggle to get a pack of fast bowlers to choose from. I was born in India and lived in Australia for very long. I understand the difference in the way children are treated. Our parents will punish them for the innocent mistakes and create an innate fear in their mind. Our teachers wants to create a fear in the children's mind to bring the discipline. Parents and teachers will get punished by the law if they do that in Australia. We have to let the children grow as free individuals and express themselves. An Horse should grow as Horse. We should never try to make it behave like a dog. Because, it should be the horse's choice.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

Bowling has been our achilles heel since donkey's years & this is a bit hard to understand when Pakistan keeps producing them as if there is a factory our there. One way of addressing this is to produce top quality pitches, if we keep giving excuses the soil in India is not conducive to produce pitches like we have in Australia, SAF or England we are kidding ourselves. Chennai, Mohali & even Mumbai to a great extent have had genuine quick pitches in the past. If we address the pitch issue not only we'll encourage aspiring cricketers to look at bowling as a viable option but also test the mettle of upcoming batters. Take a look at the batting averages of domestic batters, quite honestly it's making mockery of the first class structure of we have and this structure hasn't changed for God know how many years. Batsmen have it too easy at first class & when they play Test cricket the transition is too hard which is only natural. Hence the quality of pitches across the country has to improve

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

Harsha I truly respect you. But this one time you including the other experts seem to be missing the point.

1.In the series in England & Australia the team was severly handicapped as its so called strength "Batting" was found misfiring.

2.And during the same period if you observe the bowling has been more promising than ever before with the likes of Umesh Yadav coming to the fore.

3.Its only after the repetitive failures of the highly rated Indian Batsmen... the spirit of the team goes to pieces, and what you see at the end is a mediocre Bowling Outfit which at the outset had a million possibilities!

4. Lastly the so called one day tigers like Suresh Raina and even Virat Kohli & Rohit Sharma are far from ready for the Whites(no pun here..).

5. One parting shot, the current Indian coach somehow takes Indian cricket back to the 90s, we need active coaches who can run around with the team. Keep there spirits up. Right now who we have is a grandpa past his expiry date....True Story.

Posted by spinkingKK on (February 17, 2012, 6:12 GMT)

Has Harsha ever compared Indian atheletes against the rest of the world? The fact is, India has never been a force to reckon when it comes to a sport which requires strength and stamina. We flopped in Soccer (we used to do well a long time ago, I have been told), athletics, swimming, tennis (We are only good in Doubles), Hockey(We were the unassailable champaions once. But, then we were one nation with the current day Pakisthan included), Rugby(??) etc. We are good when more concentration and artistry is required. That is where the circket batting, chess, archery, shooting etc comes in. Even at those sports, we are also plagued by the fear factor. We Indians are made to have a fear in our mind from the early childhood. It is very difficult to come out of that fear completely. We are never really free. For India to do well in sports, the attitude of the parents and teachers towards the children should change. Also, we need to have a more healthier eating habit for some generations.

Posted by satish619chandar on (February 17, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

As Mr.BalkrishnaSapre points, we never had a good bowling attack ever.. It is always a worry when you can't produce a good attack who can perform consistently over a good period of time.. McGrath and Warne were really deadly bowlers but still, we should not forget the roles of Gillespie, Biche, Brett Lee and Kasprowicz who complemented both greats over their dominant period and provided the combo which maintained the team in top position for a decade.. This is what lacks in the Indian setup.. We always had one or two good bowlers but never good 4 man attack..

Posted by ISHA2802 on (February 17, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

i think again u r protecting ur captain & your loveable lengends including ur slectors who had selected the test squad where in ishant is just fast bowler not wicket taking in which the fomat required 20 wicket to complete in test cricket without any suitable bench strength. he himself admitting that he is suffering since june 2011with his legs than why don`t someone advicing him to get rid injury first. there are too many pot whole like a mumbai road . it is like mumbai bmc bcci don`t want to improve the test performance outside of sub-Continent

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 5:58 GMT)

We are talking about poor bowling consistently but what we have done so far to improve that?I don understand our local bowlers bowl so well in domestic cricket,Consistently takes 5 wicket haul n so and when it comes to performing at International level they suffers like a hell.They seems of begging the wickets in place of getting them,Owning them.I totally agree with Harsha "With Good Batsman u can at max draw the test.If you are aiming for a win,You have to take those 20 Wickets and there is no exception on this" so if india wants to do really well in tests they have to come up with something exceptional as they did for fielding.If they can do for fielding y not for bowling???

Posted by happy-go-lucky on (February 17, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

@Sharath Komarraju: Spot on mate! Also what an untimely article! India just got steamrolled in the recent test series because of BATTING failures, bowlers, for all their limitations did pretty well. Vinay Kumar played by default, he't not really a test bowler. Had Sreesanth been fit, he would have played. Harsha boss, if you dont have anything to write, dont.

Posted by Podicheti on (February 17, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

@Sharath Komarraju - Your comments made a lot more sense than the entire article. I am not sure what Harsha is trying to say except for we need better bowling unit. And that is what is being said for some years now. Totally useless article.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

Why blaming the bowling over n over again, when the real cause for our 8-0 test match debacle was our batting. Not being able to notch big scores was the single most biggest factor for our defeats. No doubt that our bowling is not great , but it is not pathetic as well, expecially in Aus series(except for 1 test match), we actually had them on the ropes quite a few times, courtesy our bowlers. Now look what is happening in the one-dayers, Gambhir, Dhoni are scoring and we are winning... Harsha, u totally missed the bigger picture this time

Posted by JohnnyRook on (February 17, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

I completely agree with Harsha. Ranji Trophy has to have less teams. 27 teams is just too much of quantity and too less of quality. The plate/elite devision also increases the manipulations by selectors and politicians. How do you compare a bowler who has taken 30 wickets at average of 25 in elite league with a bowler with plate league. I know BCCI cares only about the money, so let me give a financial reason. Ranji trophy currently gives no money at all. Other than finals and probably semifinals, people just don't watch it even on TV. Having a couple of international players and reducing the number of teams thus increasing the quality will definitely sell it and get BCCI the only thing it cares for while helping Indian cricket. It will make some Indians and State associations unhappy who would rather have a weak losing team instead of being a united winning team but it is every bit worth it.

Posted by AvinashatSydney on (February 17, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

Wonder, if Indian bowlers had to bowl to Sachin and the rest of the fab four….

Posted by pitch_curator on (February 17, 2012, 5:32 GMT)

Agree with Sharath's comment. Also, I am tired of this non-sense from the cricket writers claiming that test cricket is better than ODI/T20 cricket. The fact of the matter is that they are three different versions and the success factors for each of them are very different. To claim that test cricket is better than the others is purely sentimentalism and has no basis. If this were really the case then all good test players should also have been exceptional ODI players. There have been numerous instances (notably Michael Clarke, VVS Lakshman, Andrew Struss etc) of test players who have no clue how to play T20 and ODI cricket. If test cricket were so truly superior then people should be flocking to see test matches. Never under-estimate the intelligence of the playing public.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 5:31 GMT)

Nice article Harsha! Btw there is a spelling mistake in the third last paragraph ,1st line. Differently is spelled as differentl

Posted by luks on (February 17, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Couldn't cricinfo have found a better photo of Dinda?

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

Good article, but to put all the blame on bowling for not doing well in tests is plain wrong. It is not as if we are scoring 400+ regularly, and still opposition beat us. On the contrary, we are struggling to get past 250 regularly..then, obviously, it is unfair to pin blame on the bowling. If batting were to be fine in tests, and bowling bad, then we at least should have drawn tests, right? not loosing in 3-4 days regularly..

Posted by its.rachit on (February 17, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

do not agree with harsha ... batting failed miserably in England and Australia ... and that is why we lost ... even in SA in 2010, the first test was lost due to batsmen ... and then the bowlers won us the second match ... cant relate to the one sided view of past greats and media men that india's bowling is the problem ... IT is the problem but batting is equally bad ... sehwag and gambhir average in the 20s overseas (outside subcontinent) in the last 3-4 years ... so how is batting not a problem ...

Posted by analyseabhishek on (February 17, 2012, 5:05 GMT)

If one saw the spineless performance of the Central zone batters in front of determined bowlers in the Dileep trophy final, they would notice that even our batting riches might be coming to an end. It is also an interesting parallel with the spineless Indian batting performance in England and Australia.

Posted by BalkrishnaSapre on (February 17, 2012, 4:51 GMT)

That's really true.. look at averages/ strike rates of indian bowlers historically.. nobody averages below 25.. no strike rates <60.. even greats like Kapi/ Kumble doesn't have it.. many average batsmen grind indian bowling attacks.. good batters destroy them.. very few pacers bend their backs and hit the deck hard..

Posted by praful_cric on (February 17, 2012, 4:31 GMT)

Very good analysis Harsha. This is the first article I admire of you. It really tells the story of India winning the WC in batting pitches.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

another master piece by harsha... but dont you think batting needs to improve, as bowling is the only department which performed on the last two tours......but i liked local train instace related to short term rewards....

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

Harsha Bhogle's constant attempts to show the Indian Cricket Team as 'India in microcosm' get tiresome after a while. When the cricket team is doing well, it is 'the new, fresh, young India'. When they're not doing well, it is a reflection of the 'inefficient political system in India'. If we do well in ODIs and not in Tests, it is because we are 'trained to be opportunistic'. While I do agree that the cricket team has emerged from Indian society and therefore contains some of its characteristics, Mr Bhogle takes it too far too often. Sometimes it pays to remember that eleven individuals, through their performance in a SPORTING field, cannot represent their country's social structure in any significant manner. Mr Bhogle has a habit of playing social historian and drawing parallels between the Indian Cricket Team and Indian Society. Maybe he should stick to being what he is - a sports writer. Otherwise he will continue to find patterns where none exist, like he has in this piece.

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

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