December 16, 2012

Be bold, India, England and Australia

It's the one piece of advice the administrators could do with as their teams look to improve their success rate in Test cricket

Over the next few months the fates of Australia, India and England are entwined. India are currently playing England and will then host Australia, who will head to England for the Ashes in July-August 2013. All enticing series, and as the teams stand at the moment, England are on the rise, Australia are treading water and India are regressing. Australia and India are in different stages of a rebuilding process, and with varied reserve stocks.

India have major headaches. They need to begin a revitalisation process with a change of leadership and a fond farewell to a champion batsman. This will take a large dose of selectorial courage, so far as rare in Indian cricket as sightings of the Loch Ness monster.

The big stumbling block to India beginning the renewal process is Sachin Tendulkar. While everyone waits with bated breath to see what he'll do, the team is stagnating. The issue has become "Will he or won't he?" instead of being "Will they or won't they?" What is needed is bold leadership, with the focus on India winning Test matches. It's time to thank Tendulkar for providing a glorious era and then to concentrate on forging a new group of successful players who produce an exciting brand of cricket. India are fortunate that they are not without talent in both batting and spin bowling. Their major concern is bowlers of genuine pace.

Australia, on the other hand, have a plethora of young pace bowlers, but the problem is how to keep those talented quicks on the park. Australia also need to repair a system that used to routinely produce exciting young batsmen but now churns out a production line of ageing (in cricket terms) debutants. Surprisingly, after years of the team basking in the glory of Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, there are now very few wristspin imitators, and an art that Australia once dominated is now as desolate as the country's red centre.

Where Australia were leaders in producing and picking bold young cricketers, there is now a system that replicates the outdated one England appear to have discarded.

The most pressing need for Australia is to get the team, and in particular the batting line-up, settled quickly so they are in good shape by the time the Ashes commences. This will require a selection juggling act of choosing sides to win in the present but to also accommodate future requirements.

England have displayed a boldness that was missing from their cricket for a major part of their lean years. From the time they chose a dashing young Kevin Pietersen for the 2005 Ashes instead of plumping for an ageing stalwart in Graham Thorpe, England have been on the rise. That trend is continuing with the introduction of the determined young Joe Root into a crucial Test match in India.

However, they do have one major problem. They need to unearth a fast-bowling allrounder to occupy the No. 6 or 7 batting spot so they can retain the deadly spin combination of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar. This pair has the capacity to be the modern version of Jim Laker and Tony Lock for England, and every stone should be overturned in order to ensure they can work as a pair rather than as single entities. One obvious option is the return of Stuart Broad to full fitness with a stronger focus on his batting.

In the light of their recent selection boldness England may want to take a look at Craig Overton, who played in the recent Under-19 World Cup. One half of a talented pair of twins, Overton bowls at a lively pace, hits the pitch hard and is a top-class slip fielder. Currently his batting lags behind the rest of his game and is well short of Test standard, but given the opportunity he could rise quickly.

There are potentially exciting times ahead for all three teams and their progress will be followed with interest. The most likely ingredient for immediate success will be boldness. Surprisingly it's England who currently lead the way in that regard.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Greg on December 19, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    Would like to ask, what is Nathan Lyon doing in the Australian team? It is amazing that Australia do not have a spinner to replace Lyon who has an average first class record let alone his test record. He might be the only spinner in the world today who struggles to pick wickets during the fourth and fifth days of a test match which he has been achieving quite regularly in the last 4 to 5 test matches. Lyon was the main reason why Australia could not win the first 2 test matches against South Africa being the lone spinner, where he could not take wickets in the final days of both matches. If such a spinner cannot be replaced then I suppose that there might not be another spinner playing in the Australian domestic circuit.Look at any other spinner from the other teams in the world. They are a handful on most pitches in the final day whereas Lyon has been so easily negotiated and that too by S.African batsmen who are vulnerable against spin but for some reason he is still in the side.

  • R on December 18, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    India's problems arise because the selectors &/or the captain have obstinately refused to look ahead & try out new players or combinations. With the Windies & the New Zealand series, they had a choice to try out at least 1 or 2 combinations, but they didn't. Result is there for all to see. One obvious solution staring everyone in the face was to move Sehwag down to 6 with Rahane to open. With a cushion of 5-8 test matches, Sehwag could now move to the pivotal No. 4 position with SRT bowing out & Jadeja, Rohit (or my first preference Abhinav Mukund, sadly he has been all but forgotten, when I thought he had shown much pluck & inclination to learn despite his inadequacies) at 6. For wicket-keeping duties, I would prefer Dinesh Karthick or Wridhiman Saha in tests with the captaincy to Gautam Gambhir.

  • James on December 18, 2012, 3:57 GMT

    India- more than the other two needs to go in for total revamp, and testing out of several new players. If they could unearth a few bowlers- and for the time being keep Yadav and Sreesanth fit (with Praveen Kumar and Pathan as backup), they could have a not-so-bad attack.

    @Mikey76: I am pretty sure that New Zealand in New Zealand would be a tougher proposition as compared to India, especially if Southee keeps fit. "Comfortable' ashes- again I am not sure, as the Aussies have the better team currently. In fact England's rating looks flattering as it is, because they had the benefit of playing two series with a mediocre Indian side in the past two years (and that too, a side which was rated high at that time- which gave more benefit to the team beating them). I suspect it is Australia which has a chance of further improving its rating with a series against India coming up.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    It's so sad to see Ian Chappell kowtowing to the BCCI - India are little better than minnows in Test cricket now, and don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as SA, England or even Australia.

  • Blessing on December 17, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    Its sad to see ENG and AUS fans being trapped in dreamland and being ignorant at the fact that South Africa is miles ahead of them in the test arena. Mr Chappell only until India,Aus and Eng accept that South Africa are now the benchmark, and seek to learn from the Saffas will they improve their inconsistant test performances of late

  • Thamara on December 17, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    In my opinion, Not only India, England and Australia, but almost all the test playing nations are going through transition period after losing their key players during last 3 or 4 years. Countries such as West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand are also trying out so many players to replace the places vacated by the retirement of their star players. To be honest, England have solved almost all the problems that they had before and they are making all the things viewed as impossible by past England teams possible. They won an ashes in Australia and won a test series in India. They couldn't have done more. India and Australia certainly have so many adjustments to be made in order to get their cricket back on track. (India were never on the right track anyway). But Australia have found wonderful young fast bowlers like Starc, Pattingson, Cummings to go with slightly experienced Peter Siddle and Micthel Johnson. They will put together a deadly fast-bowling attack very soon.

  • michael on December 17, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    With 5 tests against NZ coming up and then no doubt a comfortable ashes win at home this summer, England will be snapping at South Africa's heels for the number one slot. In that time it will be very hard to see both spinners playing together, Ben Stokes looks the most likely genuine all rounder but he is still a couple of years away from being ready. Stuart Broad simply is not consistent enough with the bat yet and he's probably going to be on a sabbatical to address his poor form. Finn, Onions and Anderson will most likely be our first choice seam attack for the next six months or so with Meaker and Roland-Jones waiting in the wings.

  • Ian on December 17, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    Have SRT apologists considered that those of us wishing he would retire is because watching one of the all time greats look so poor in recent times is just so painful and sad to watch. Whilst he is Indian he belongs to the whole cricket world and some of us don't want his reputation to be tarnished. He's nearly 40 .... he isn't going to return to anywhere near any level of form that will take India forward and he needs to move aside to allow a young player to gain experience. Let's be honest he isn't contributing more than an inexperienced player might bring anyway

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    It must be hard to retire when you have no obvious replacement knocking at the door. Pointing was in that situation, but eventually accepted he had no choice. Where as someone like Nasser Hussain had Andrew Strauss ready to take his place, Steve Waugh had a queue of batsmen, Paul Collingwood had a number of players biting at his heels.

    Is the reluctance to retire of senior players also indicative of a lack of new players coming through?

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Mirror Mirror on the wall, who's the worst columnist in the world.. IAN CHAPPELL

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