Aakash Chopra
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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Criticise their skills, not their commitment

There's plenty to fault in India's performances in the last 18 months, but the players' lack of intent isn't to blame

Aakash Chopra

January 7, 2013

Comments: 109 | Text size: A | A

MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina added 73 for the sixth wicket, India v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Chennai, December 30, 2012
The last thing a player thinks about during a match is the money he gets in the IPL as compared to internationals © BCCI
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What's the worst thing a cricketer could go through? Loss of form, fear of failure in front of thousands of fans, media crucifixion following that failure, and the eventual death knell in the form of axeing by the selectors?

All this can be extremely unsettling and distressing, yet there's something that hurts a thousand times more. At least till you get used to it. There's no parallel to waking up on the morning of a match with the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that no matter what you or your team does on the field, you'll end up on the losing side. You practise as hard as you can, chalk out plans, change the playing combinations, even stick to your superstitions, but all of it proves futile at the end of the day's play.

While the loss of personal form hurts a great deal, you know you can regain it like you have in the past. But the loss of collective form in a team makes you feel as helpless as a kitten up a tree.

In the summer of 2000 I played a season of club cricket in Holland as an overseas professional. When I first met the players, they were bubbling with excitement, positive energy and the desire to do well, and during pre-season training, we were very optimistic of a good performance. The season started with a couple of defeats but they didn't deter us from our goal of topping the league.

We then lost a few more games but didn't lose hope. We told ourselves that the harder we worked, the luckier we'd get. Instead of practising once a week, as customary, we practiced three times. We were leaving no stone unturned.

A few weeks passed and we still hadn't won a game. For me, though, right from the start, the runs were coming easily, and initially the losses didn't matter much. I consoled myself saying that there was only so much a single player could do to influence the outcome of a match.

But a few matches later, still without a win, the runs that had earlier given me pleasure and satisfaction stopped mattering. We played different opponents, on different grounds and in different formats, but the results didn't change.

By then the only thing that consumed us during the week was the impending loss on the weekend. We didn't talk about it. We thought if we didn't talk about it, it wouldn't happen.

There's a breaking point for every team and once that is breached, the dressing room starts to disintegrate, because frequent losses bring out everyone's frustrations in a most unsavoury manner. The first few losses make you look inwards, because you want to improve individually and collectively, but if the trend continues beyond the tipping point, you start pointing fingers at others - your peers, the conditions, the coach, the media and so on.

Another problem with being part of a perpetually underperforming team is that even the players who are in some reasonable form start losing it, because the team's defeatist mindset seeps into individuals.

At the end of that torturous summer, we couldn't wait to part ways. And mind you, this was in league cricket in Holland, where there was no fan outcry and media trial following our losses.

I can't help but feel for the current set of Indian cricketers, who have been on an arduous journey for the last 18 months. Different opponents in different conditions have comprehensively beaten them. Even their supposedly impregnable bastion at home is no longer safe, as England and Pakistan have shown.

Since the careers of many players are hanging by a thin thread, it's only reasonable to believe that they have been trying their best to redeem themselves. Every cricketer knows that the only thing that can save his place during bad days is his and the team's good showing, so the intention to fight and salvage the situation can't be doubted. Every wrong move of theirs is scrutinised by a billion people, which doesn't allow complacency to creep in, or at least doesn't allow it to grow.

Nobody drops a catch, bowls a bad ball for lack of intent. Yet these things happen and the guilty pay the price. It's important for fans and critics to understand that if somebody fails to deal with the swing or spin, or can't get opponents out, it isn't because of lack of commitment but because of lack of skills or loss of form.

A batsman doesn't nick a ball to the wicketkeeper on purpose; a bowler doesn't bowl a full toss because he's earning millions in the IPL. That, in my view, is an unfair allegation, unless there is substantial evidence to back such claims. In fact, for most of us, the IPL dollars are the last thing to cross our minds while playing a shot or bowling a ball. We are in cricket not because it's our profession but because it's our passion.

I'm not justifying India's prolonged underperformance. I'm just saying that lack of commitment is hardly the problem - if at all it is a problem - that needs addressing. The poor performances could be due to an erosion of skills from playing too much T20 cricket, or down to bad decisions by selectors and on the field, or lack of proper preparation. But it certainly can't be that the money in the IPL prompts an indifference to other formats.

No cricketer worth his salt minds objective criticism of his abilities, but to question his integrity and commitment is hitting below the belt.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Ray1234 on (January 10, 2013, 17:27 GMT)

Don't agree with Mr. Chopra at all....

1)Basically - ever since the 1.5+ years back WC win, the Indian team has NOT been committed - instead enjoying their upgraded fame and further upgraded fortunes.....the result has been a bit lessening in commitment. *At the world level in anything - this lessening is the difference between being amongst the top and being with the tier 2 teams - which is where India is now

2)On a separate point - WHY isn't the media/others NOT saying critical against the coach - ever since we changed our coach after the WC, the results have been NOT tier 1 but tier 2

Posted by atheros1672 on (January 9, 2013, 18:31 GMT)

One of the most important reason for the hapless state on Indian Cricket is IPL. Not the money or fame or media popularity it brings but a more mundane simple reason - fatigue. Too much cricket and fact that India does not follow "horses for courses" means that almost the entire team plays all the formats and ridiculously large number of them leading to injuries, lack of committment and passion. Look at the list of bowlers injured to get a hint. India has not played a full strength team for a whole tournament in a long time now. It is always someone is injured or out of form. Though there are a noteable number of promising new players in the bench, the majority of the team is old - sehwag, gambhir, MSD, Zaheer. The whole mess the boards bring in are a totally different aspect. It is time we groom a bunch of cricketers for specific formats like australia or england(at least trying to do). Keep the players fresh, motivated and hungry. Indian board will however, keep up their bad work :(

Posted by leslie_alo on (January 9, 2013, 4:08 GMT)

The one day team looks good and with the return of Sreesanth and Umesh,it will become the team for the future - good job,Sandeep and co. Below is the recent performance of some players in domestic: Parthiv: 51,162,80,56,61,12,55,65,111,92,22,31,101,47 AM Nayar: 35,4,107,0,64,62,73*,51,26*,69*,11,28,62*,72*, 122 plus 22 wickets Murali Vijay: 22,39,13,7,32,15,0,17,3,13,42,24,24,76 Karthik: 74,0*,154,29,35,75,49,23,0,8,17,187 Why were M Vijay(3 fifties 2 hundreds) and Karthik (2 fifties, 2 hundreds) brought into test team. This means first class is not the criteria used by wise men for Test cricket. Why is Parthiv (7 fifties, 3 hundreds) not brought as a batsman like DeVilliers under Boucher and though Dhoni is not performing in tests,let them keep him if they want. And Rahane? Let more money be pumped into first class too so much so that players are lured to play and let them be rewarded for performance after new bouncer rule. Looks like Nayar also needs a notice, what you think

Posted by Meety on (January 9, 2013, 1:37 GMT)

@thegoodgame on (January 07 2013, 09:41 AM GMT) - Oz will play England to the end of days in Test cricket, so it won't become extinct. How well it survives depends on the BCCI & the bean counters!

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 23:51 GMT)

Some players continued playing IPL in spite of injuries. Some player skipped WI tour. Some fast bowlers can't do fielding. Where is the commitment to improve the fielding? These failures are consequences of winning the world cup, taking things for granted. I did not say these... Some former player said this. And I agree with him.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

Nice article - once you wear the Indian cap I don't think there will be lack of commitment or lack of focus from the players. Sachin, after 23 yrs of international cricket is playing Ranji matches to get back into form shows the character & commitment to achieve success at the top level

Noting succeed like success. No matter how much hard work you put in - if it fails to deliver results, every effort becomes nil. Success is sweet and failure is bitter, players in India or world wide have to swallow this bitter pill. Moreover, we respect the Indian players efforts and stand by them in the moment of crisis.Cricket players have given joy & made the country proud. We marvel their efforts and hard work. On optimistic note - we will make a come back. Pura hai vishvas...

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 18:01 GMT)

Commitment???? What about the Indias lack of commitment to fielding and fitness. How maby catches have dropped? How many singles have gone for two's? Absolute rubbish Chopra.

Posted by guns.guru on (January 8, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Agreed! They are still a passionate bunch of players who love to play cricket, and its not just for money! Else they wouldn't be in the sports profession! But isn't "lack of proper preparation" an indicator of "lack of commitment"? How do you explain the Indians skipping optional practice sessions, in spite of an embarrassing losing streak, while the opposing players working hard with even stronger determination, in spite of winning & breaking new records?! Look at England or Pakistan! Of all people, shouldn't the latter deserve a break & afford to relax? Ok, comparisons aren't healthy, and probably this is too much scrutiny, but there seems to be a general lack of accountability on part of the Indian players?! In their defense tho, I think too much cricket is leading to this attitude. BCCI runs a business trying to squeeze a series out of every available window, taking the players for granted! Compensating in money isn't right, but their physical workloads have to be respected too!!

Posted by NIKHILJOHRY on (January 8, 2013, 14:34 GMT)

When a player plays for the country there is no doubt that he is fully committed but the problem comes during the IPL season.for example a player if injured before the IPL tournament,he will prefer to conceal that injury and play rather than rest and take the tournament off because he does not want to let go of the money resulting in aggravation of his injury and then he will miss the subsequent tournaments in national colours.WE have seen many instances in the past.Check out my views and what I have written on Indian cricket at http://nikhiljohry.blogspot.in/

Posted by Nerav on (January 8, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

Completely disagree - Lets again take things back to cricket being a Job for these people. People preform better on a Job that pays more and offer a higher wage than one that offers less. Take the english football team for instance - every week they pay really well for their respective clubs, but them in an England shirt and they look as if they dont care.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

The only 3 reasons people are doubting Indian team's commitment are 1)BCCIs and Dhoni's lack of sensitivity towards dealing with defeats. It seems as if we are happy to win in IPL (As all teams are from India, we cant Loose). 2) Second is selection, How can you select bowlers like Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan and expect them to pick 20 wickets for you. How can you continuously pick players that have not performed (Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir in tests etc) and not include players who have done well at the domestic level. 3) The application and the will to fight out a test innings is lacking among all players. Everybody wants to hit out his way out of form and IPL certainly should be blamed for it. Raina dancing down the track and getting bowled to Jeetan patel for a duck at a crucial juncture in the match explains it all.

Thus, doubting the commitment is justified.

Posted by ravi-1967 on (January 8, 2013, 4:15 GMT)

I disagree with Akash. In IPL 2011 we had Sehwag who played it through carrying an injury and when the Countries committements started he disclosed his injury and had to take a break from national duties.

The problem with IPL is, it is a good platform for the players to show their skills and also hone them for the T20 but has it yeilded results for the country. Point to be noted is that after IPL started India has not performed well in the T20 world cups. Before the IPL in 2007 we were the champs. So has IPL helped our national team , no it has not.

People play slam bang cricket and want to continue in the same vein in both 50 overs and the test matches. IPL has slowly eaten into Indian cricket and nobody is willing to accept that it has done more damage than good to the country in general.

Posted by sweetspot on (January 8, 2013, 3:46 GMT)

As incredible as it may seem, the evidence points to the contrary! India won a world cup after 28 years only AFTER the IPL was introduced! You cannot lose your skills all of a sudden, although you can allow some bad habits to creep into your game. Once in a while, even great teams can have the laws of average hit many players at the same time. It just happens, but for India this is happening on the back of a few years of very good performance. The IPL is played for 6 weeks and T20 is also becoming very skilled. Why not take the positives from it and move on? Mr. Chopra may have a point, but intent is very different from drive. It is hard to keep motivation levels high when so much cricket, of any kind is played by a team. It just gets mentally dull.

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 2:53 GMT)

Well said Girish. With that said, it's the Indian selectors and the country's history on not making changes to someone who is entrenched that makes matters worse. Add people like Tendulkar who will never retire and it's a recipe for disaster. Replace Sandeep Patil with Srikanth, replace the coach, find good pace bowling (this may be the most difficult given that India likes only vegetables) and things could turn around. I would vote for the entire country turning non-veg!!!!!!

Posted by nyc_missile on (January 8, 2013, 2:37 GMT)

Well Dhoni smiling heartily at the end of a disgraceful series loss merely because he scored some runs in that match..Sehwag dropping sitters & laughing nonchalantly;Dhoni offering hopeless excuses and giggling away at the press conferences as if nothing had happened,Dhoni casually explaining away humiliating defeats abroad and blaming some random things like toss,pitch & climate every match..if these are anything to do with skills,please tell us Akash.They not just lack intent but hunger & passion which is more than clear ever since 3rd test,WI when they gave up chase that was imminently gettable.This surely couldn't have been about skills,is it? It is of course LACK OF INTENT.Dhoni,when Oz were 20/4 in 1st test ,spreading the field and 'expecting' wickets to fall by themselves is LACK OF INTENT,not lack of skills..Playing same old XI that failed in 6 straight losses in OZ,when Ian Chappell and everybody were advocating Rohit & Rahane's inclusion.LACK OF INTENT by Dhoni!

Posted by Meety on (January 8, 2013, 1:28 GMT)

Whilst there are many teams in different sports who go on losing sprees, genuine sports fans know that beneath it all they are trying. The problem for the Indian cricket team, there are some tell tale signs that they are NOT trying hard enuff. There have been direct quotes in articles where Dhoni has said that losing to Bangladesh in a W/Cup is worse than what is currently happening. Kholi telling Warner - just wait till you get to India etc. The lethargy in the field is appalling. I understand that Ashwin had a hip injury as a child, but his fielding is terrible. Chopra is correct when he says that players in form can lose it due to the negativity seeping in - I think Kholi is a prime example. He is conflicted in his batting atm. On the Oz tour, the players who IMO were busting a gut to perform were Kohli & Ishant Sharma & Yadav. Oz climbed off the canvas in the 80s - when Bob Simpson went thru the team with an iron fist. Hard training ultimately put Oz at the top for 15 yrs!

Posted by   on (January 8, 2013, 1:24 GMT)

As somebody else said, I think we understand the thinking of Indians better than others coz it takes one to know one. I am intrigued by this defence of their commitment that we hear in expert columns because back in the day when you, Mr.Akash Chopra, were in the team, people thought nothing of crucifying a much better, more committed and more resilient unit. We may try to attack the problem softly if we so wish out of compassion but we have to ask at some stage if we have to be kind to the players or kind to the game. We have already seen spectators getting up in the middle of Ind-Pak matches, having guessed the result correctly and knowing India wouldn't put up a fight. That is a clear signal of what is to come if people don't start addressing the problem instead of only addressing the backlash from fans. This is not intended to you but to players who bash their critics without the form or performance to justify their attitude.

Posted by satchander on (January 8, 2013, 1:14 GMT)

I agree with the point that we must not question the commitment of a player in an international match just because he is making millions in IPL - fair enough. But these very so called committed players are not performing inspite of all chances given and still not being dropped - WHY? I seriously dont understand how Gambhir, Sehwag, Zaheer, Rohit, Tendulkar etc managged to play for last 18 months inspite of serious dip in form. At the expense of the careers of new and young players the careers of the exising players are being prolonged. That is deplorable. I think we are the only country who can tolerate such bad performances in the team and still not axe the players. No other country (Eng, Aus, SL etc) would have tolerated such horrible performance from their national side. Akash, I hope you would also agree that its high time we agree that existing players commitmment is great but thanks we still need new guys - its high time we did this !

Posted by sparth on (January 8, 2013, 0:26 GMT)

IPL money doesnt erode ones commitment, but it does erode one's skills. they end up playing more T20 and therfore have no idea how to play tests properly. I think you contradicted yourself in this article

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 21:39 GMT)

Increase the salary of a player in test cricket u will see within a year wat will happen ...!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 20:53 GMT)

Hi Akash, Big fan of your writing but I beg to differ in this regard. Thinking of failure than how you can make a difference is the key between also-rans and leaders. What was Gandhi thinking when the might of the British empire threw him off the train for being coloured?- that is leadership. That is optimism, that is madness, and that is HOPE- the cradle of all life, evolution, inventions, ad nauseum. Penultimate paragraph suggests ' bad decisions', 'lack of proper preparation'- which ARE components of the commitment you speak of earlier. Talent without commitment or a goal is gold lying in a gutter- does not feed the hungry nor adorn the beautiful. I still feel you write with integrity- but be objective in defending your pals. As a philosopher you will will know, nothing comes free. IPL which is so much good for the sportsmen is destined to bring in the evils. As an Indian, which do you treasure the most?

Posted by HawksEyeFocused on (January 7, 2013, 20:42 GMT)

All my sympathies are with Indian team as Pakistan crushed them down to earth with a style in their own backyard!!! Sachin unlike Sehwaq was wise enough he took retirement before Pakistani bowlers could force him to retire !!! He knew that he wont face Junaid Khan, Irfan, Umer Gul and above all his old bunny SAEED AJMAL!!! Now according to my humble opinion India should invite Kenya or Zimbabwe for test and ODI series to improve their rankings and regain their form!!! I don't think with their current team they can even beat BD ,Ireland or Afghanistan!!! Mark my words... India in 2013 will lose matches against all the minnows especially Afghanistan and Ireland !!! BD is no more minnow!!!!

Posted by Ajayvs on (January 7, 2013, 20:18 GMT)

I agree with you Aakash on the fact that nobody wants to loose on purpose or perform badly on purpose but what's questionable is the fire in the belly to succed. What pains the fans is that we dont see the all out effort and passion which you can clearly see for example when an Aus team is playing(even if they are loosing). These days unfortunately the Indian cap is no longer the be all and end all of a cricketers life, they have IPL an alternative and fallback. Not many will complain if the team shows some fight like they did in 3rd ODI with Pakistan even if they loose..

Posted by HawksEyeFocused on (January 7, 2013, 19:59 GMT)

All my sympathies are with Indian team as Pakistan crushed them down to earth with a style in their own backyard!!! Sachin unlike Sehwaq was wise enough he took retirement before Pakistani bowlers could force him to retire !!! He knew that he wont face Junaid Khan, Irfan, Umer Gul and above all his old bunny SAEED AJMAL!!! Now according to my humble opinion India should invite Kenya or Zimbabwe for test and ODI series to improve their rankings and regain their form!!! I don't think with their current team they can even beat BD ,Ireland or Afghanistan!!! Mark my words... India in 2013 will lose matches against all the minnows especially Afghanistan and Ireland !!! BD is no more minnow!!!!

Posted by Rahulbose on (January 7, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

While your comment on players commitment is generally true. I don't see how that applies to this Indian team. When you have folks who continue to make the same mistakes with no improvement. You have to question their commitment. For contrast take a look at England, they were awful in UAE but worked hard and improved their game against spinners. Compare that to Yuvraj or Raina who have always struggled against swing and bounce, but for years have shown no improvement. You only have to look at the girth of players like Sehwag to know their level of commitment to being a professional.

Posted by Natraja on (January 7, 2013, 18:42 GMT)

@henchart, what rubbish? There are tons of youngsters who can filed and bat better.why you want tendulkar to come back?

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (January 7, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

@Batmanindallas very few people go out to intentionally do a bad job. But the difference is that if you don't perform or least show some level of commitment, I'm guessing there's a good chance you'll lose your like me. These players are the highest in the world when you include their sponsorships and advertising contracts but do they even look like sportsmen. Why? Because unlike you or me, they'll get paid regardless of how they perform. What incentive does Sehwag have to put a price on his wicket if he knows he was until now an automatic choice in ODIs. The problem is too many fans love them regardless of how they perform and treat them like movie stars and that means ratings which means advertisers which means money.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

Akaash, more than their skills, its the attitude that is the real issue. When you see Sehwag throw caution to the winds even when the team requires him to stay there, that is not skill, thats attitude. When Gautam Gambhir is in denial about his form, when it is crystal clear to everyone else outside the team, and he does nothing to rectify it, that is not skill, it's attitude. When Zaheer repeatedly fields badly, it's again the attitude. As for your assertion that they have no time because they are constantly playing, WHAT is stopping them from coming together as a team and asking the BCCI for a streamlined schedule? Sachin can sit out WI tours, but will always be available for IPL. It is things like these that convince me that more than anything, the ATTITUDE has to change. Tihe BCCI is out to make money at the expense of quality, and the cricketers oblige every time. How can you say this is a problem of skill?

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (January 7, 2013, 18:04 GMT)

I don't understand how you can say that gradual erosion of skills are due to the IPL when Sehwag, Tendulkar, until last year Dravid and Laxman, Yuvraj, Zaheer were playing long before the IPL come along. At the same time, Kolhi is being touted as the next test captain and Pujara and Rahane are deemed to test material. You can't have both ways. The reality is that India had a a regular cast of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, Zaheer and Kumble and a number of guest appearances who helped India break its losing ways. But these players were exceptional and any team would have been fortunate to have had any of them at their peak but we were fortunate to have them at the same time. Instead of using these guys as the platform to build a solid base around, the BCCI's eyes lit up with dollar signs and expected other players would automatically become the next Dravid etc. Now we seeing that's not the case, you're blaming the IPL. Why? One word - money.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 17:53 GMT)

Aakash u can criticise the skills of club cricketers of holland , however here skills are very much present , they just lack in commitment , sehwag for a case, a more commited him would have had an average of 45 in one dayers !

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (January 7, 2013, 17:51 GMT)

Aakash, if commitment is not the issue, why is it time and again we see players injured for international matches and but fit in time for the IPL. In the 5 years Why is it we see quick bowlers drop in pace or lose their ability to take wickets after they've land themselves an IPL contract? Batsmen seem to have more energy and enthusiasm when they're in an IPL game than in a test match. The players are human and have to make a living just like the most of us but their playing careers end when they're 40 with an uncertain future ahead of them. I don't blame some of the players especially the ones who are denied a chance to play for India due to the ridiculous selection policy but it's evident that players are more committed to their franchise than their country. Try this - pay the international players more than a franchise team and you'll an instant and dramatic improvement in the level of commitment.

Posted by sabeeh89 on (January 7, 2013, 17:46 GMT)

@thegoodgame

I think we must look at sports as a form of entertainment and nothing else. Unscripted drama. The younger generation (like myself) does not find test cricket exciting because TOO many end in draws or lopsided victories. Very rare do you see the momentum swings you see in ODI or T20.

Second, who now a days has time to sit and watch 8 hours of cricket of ODI cricket or 5 days of test criket.

T20 is over in 3 hours (like all other sports) and you can go on with the rest of your life.

Posted by sameer111111 on (January 7, 2013, 16:56 GMT)

Hi Aakash. Am a great fan of your writing, but think that you have confused intent with commitment. Obviously each and every players would like to do well, so intent is always there, but commitment can be measured by the means one takes to achieve the goal. Getting up early morning, running that extra lap, improving one's fitness and skills, these shows commitment. For example, someone like Zaheer Khan, it is more than obvious that it was missing. He has always been a skillful player, but his fitness has been pathetic. Sachin, who is much older is a far better fielder. And regarding the IPL, while nobody would be thinking about the money one earns while playing a test match, it sure has been a big distraction. As you had mentioned in an earlier article, players today have been modifying their technique to suit T20, which is the worst thing to happen to Indian cricket in the long term. A few more overseas whitewashes and lets see, how many people still watch IPL.

Posted by thebrownie on (January 7, 2013, 16:12 GMT)

did you see the girth of some of the senior Indian players? you call that commitment? When was the last time any of the older players took their fielding seriously and tried to improve?

Posted by henchart on (January 7, 2013, 15:23 GMT)

Selectors should request and if need be plead that Sachin returns to ODIs.Nobody can bat like him.India would have won 3-0 if Sachin had played against Pakistan.Maestro's absence his hurting India badly.Come back MAESTRO,PLEASE,TO SAVE INDIAN CRICKET IN ODI'S.

Posted by aativas on (January 7, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

The problem is: the team is not in a 'learning mode'. As the captain himself said, the team 'does not pay attention to criticism'. Well, what of sort of commitment is this? Agreed, every person in India thinks s/he is an expert on cricket. But the team should know where to listen and where not to. They seem to have individual goals. I think the BCCI move to promote Kohali above Gambhir (as vice captain) has spoiled the team environment. Dhoni going to shell has not at all helped. The way Dravid, VVS and to some extent SRT retired - also is important in the given context. Problem is: we believe that we are the best and go into denial mode and keep on giving excuses. Then one win at Delhi - and everything is pushed under the carpet!!

Posted by BnH1985Fan on (January 7, 2013, 14:29 GMT)

Unlike batting or bowling average and catches taken, commitment is hard if not impossible to measure. Commitment means the player wants to play to help his team win. It means doing something different; i.e. adapting in order to help the team. Take Sehwag's case - everyone comes to the ground expecting him to blow the opposition out; and so we expect him to attack every time he bats. But if adapt has not worked, perhaps it is time to adapt; get your eye in and grind out runs. I agree that batsmen do not deliberately get themselves out, or bowl poorly, or drop catches. Yet, performance matters, and consistent failures leads one to question the player's commitment. If he predictably going to be out the same way every time because "that's just the way he plays", it does raise concerns. Commitment also means accepting limitations - I am not playing well at present, let me take time off, work out deficiencies, and let me then find a way back into the team to help my team win.

Posted by venbas on (January 7, 2013, 14:07 GMT)

If a guy like Rohit Sharma with more than 125 international Matches is still being labelled an upcoming cricketer who needs a chance to settle down and hone his skills then it can only mean that there are serious issues with Indian cricket. In a nation of a Billion if we cannot find 11 best performers for our most loved sport, it calls for serious introspection and hard nosed action...not philosophical justifications.

Posted by Harlequin. on (January 7, 2013, 13:34 GMT)

I usually like Aakash's writing, and he is a professional player and therefore will be privy to certain information and experiences that most of us here are not, but I still can't bring myself to agree with him here. You just have to look at the difference in the fielding attitude in the Eng/Ind series - In the tests, India looked dead in the field, but that quickly changed during the T20. also, look at what Flower has done to the England team, he hasn't enhanced their skills he has enhanced their commitment to preparation and that made all the difference. In my eyes, the skills of the Indian team are clear, the commitment is not.

Posted by Batmanindallas on (January 7, 2013, 13:24 GMT)

No one goes to work wanting to do a bad job so I am sure it applies to cricketers too. Sport being a physical activity an ageing body can take only so much wear and tear. Be it sachin or sehwag. I blame the selectors and BCCI for their short vision and not planning for a good bench strength. Looking at Ranji and player page there is a lot of young good players, bowlers with decent pace like A Yadav or MY from Barodo or Jaggi from Jharkand. If the richest board in the world cannot train or mentor these talented bunch no one can....

Posted by anurag_choudhary on (January 7, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Writer wants us not to question commitment of the players but does not provide examples of current player's commitment.Why should we not question when media reports confirm how our team has skipped practice sessions on numerous occasions.For example before Kolkata ODI winning Pakistani team practiced hard and our loosing team took a day off.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 12:36 GMT)

aakash,i beg to differ with you here.almost the same set of players have been very successful in the past for india.indeed,if you go man by man,i don't think barring the bowling line up,pakistan scores over india.could it be the case of not having the will to succeed,rather than having the will to lose??i mean i accept nobody ever wants to lose,but then there must element which causes defeat else nobody would ever lose,if it's just the desire that matters.maybe the current team doesn't really desire to win & doesn't put in the required effort.post the hysterical world cup & test no. 1 status.i remember john wright writing in his book that post world cup 2003,zaheer had gone into a sort of comfort zone.could a similar thing have happened to this team as well??just a personal opinion from a passionate fan,yet who is an outsider as far as inner dresing room psychology goes

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 11:24 GMT)

Please get some batsmen who have the stamina and ability to play over 5 sessions...I cant find anyone except Pujara in the current lot. If we do well in test cricket it would eventually help us to do well in all other formats. Even if we dont, it doesnt matter. Test cricket is ultimate

Posted by Advin on (January 7, 2013, 11:16 GMT)

When IPL started ,I thought it would be very good for Indian cricket.Young Indian hopefuls facing Steyn or bowling to Kallis in pressure situations in front of huge crowds,I argued,would do them good.However it now clear that India's downward trend is partly a result of the IPL.The T20 format does not develop skills of the players required to succeed at Test or even the ODI level.And above all,it has deprived the players of much needed rest with continuos playing and travelling for 2 months (even if it swells their bank account).The Indian players now look fatigued and jaded as they play virtually non stop through out the year ,see how Dhoni has aged in a couple of years !

Posted by SamRoy on (January 7, 2013, 11:00 GMT)

Listen Akash, I think you missed the plot here just like @analyseabhishek has pointed out. Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar missed the test series in West Indies in 2011. Sehwag played in IPL and elected to have shoulder surgery just before West Indies tour; Gambhir and Tendulkar wanted time off with family. If someone wants time off shouldn't it be during a less important series? An away test series is not the time to take a time-off unless it is unimportant to you. To keep things in perspective at that time India had won only twice in Windies; in 1971 and in 2006. So, it was an important series unlike meaningless ODI affairs they play against SL. In Sehwag's case the surgery was so late that he was unfit for even England.

Posted by Amit_13 on (January 7, 2013, 10:56 GMT)

I fully agree that no player ever trains in "how to loose" or the comment you made sometime back related to SRT was equally true - A single man can win you a game but he alone cannot loose you one, its the team's failure. Wrt commitment, I am sure every player is committed but what are they committed to? We are yet to see an Indian player take a stance on t20 cricket; maybe because its against the establishment. (Only Punjab cricket has) What we are seeing with Indian cricket seems to be analogous to what happens in times of leadership vacuum. The big boys have left and the captain is arguably aloof. New players don't know how its done. The skill exists but its application that sets them apart and it is a hard learned attribute.Public criticism - an observation is that the Indian public follows cricketERS and not cricket. Ind vs Eng at Mumbai, in Nov, the drums were beating loud when we were 120/5 on day 1. We don't understand the intricacies of test cricket to appreciate it anymore.

Posted by Cricketfan101 on (January 7, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

@cricketmaan Not only that in that in the test series he was very still in his action but now he using his body in his action

Posted by golgo_85 on (January 7, 2013, 10:42 GMT)

The problem with Indian cricket team has always been the sheer arrogance and attitude of some of the key players, forget about the denial and complacency, I'll leave that to people like Akash Chopra to deal with that. The first thing you did after India winning the match yesterday was tweeting Pakistan's win loss average for the last 12 months. Why??? How about overall win loss ratio? How about the deniability ratio after series whitewashes abroad? The win last night will only "motivate" Dhoni to remain in denials in too many levels. Face it, you're not even the home flat tracks bullies anymore either. Wait till Warner, Clarke, Starc, Pattinson, Bird get a hold of you. Superiority complex is what most of your key players suffer from - Gambhir, Sehwag, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni, "Zac", Ashwin. It's shameful, you'd think they'd learn from their peers - Azharuddin, Jadeja, Kumble, Robin Singh, Sachin, Laxman. You're a good human being first, then something else.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 10:38 GMT)

well thought out and yes skillfully they are not good enough. no harm to admit. hope indians realize it for good. not to overestimate or get biased about the skillset of their own players.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 9:56 GMT)

Yet another,critical view of India's performance, yet another " dooms day prophecy"! No one is discussing the solution. The problem with Indian cricket is " an out of form batsman" , & a " out of form bowler " is dumped unceremoniously.One need to remember , the playing eleven is selected based on some extraordinary skill level. Like every healthy individual faces disease number of times in their lifespan & get treated by Doctors. Simmilarly our " out of form batsman & bowler" should be treated as cricketer with diseased form , which needs immediate attention.The national level academises, experts should take care of these crickets, identify their problem treat them to come out of the out of form slumber.

Posted by analyseabhishek on (January 7, 2013, 9:54 GMT)

I think Akash Chopra has missed the point this time. A player never explicitly chooses IPL or T20 over other formats. He simply places more emphasis on it than warranted. There is a cap on the total effort a player can make- to exceed that, one needs to be exceptionally motivated. It is this exceptional motivation which has been lacking in the Indian players while their opponents were precisely that. Finally, at international level, even a slightly lacking in any parameter is ruthlessly exposed against top sides.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 7, 2013, 9:48 GMT)

One thing that i noticed in ODIs which was not seen during the recent Tests were Ashwins revolution and flight. With a white ball in hand, suddenly there were more revolutions on the ball and there was evident spin and even flight and drift. With a red ball all those were hardly seen. It certainly has to do something with skills. What do you think Aakash? And someone has to ask Dinda to stop bolwing those bouncers like stock ball..its his shot pitching that is undoing all his hardwork. What on earth is Joe Dawes doing with him?

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

Sir actually the problem is not with intent but with the public scrutiny ... With the retirement of many starwalts the team has a flux of youngsters and the high pressure does take it's toll . I'm not very good but still the pressure of a weekend match if you loose for some matches is too gr8 to handle

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

Well Said Akash. I love it when our team gives it their all even in losing cause. The last day of the 3rd test against England is an example. We were just about losing but the fire and spirit shown by Dhoni, bowlers and fielders was amazing. Yesterday was amazing as well because of the sheer amount of desperation shown in the field.

I feel Cricket is not just about winning but giving it your best shot. You have to accept that sometimes(or many times) the opposition will be better than you or play better than you but you can take heart from the fact that you tried your best.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

I agree with you Akash...having played my self at the state level i know how it feels when out of bad luck you get out on the worst ball bowled to and get a catch dropped of your bowling or a bad decision by the umpire...It happens.. the important thing is that as a player you need to keep improving and trying...you cant take your position for granted..even in the last series against Pakistan i believe Nasir Jamshed was very lucky on many occasions.. the guy cant play a ball moving away from him..lucky for the guy he dint get the edge..but still luck favored him and he got the runs..it happens...Indian team for now should analyse what is going wrong with them, why are they failing, why isnt the batting clicking...what is wrong with their techniques and work in the nets on them...every practice session should have a definite plan..they should all know what they want to achieve out of this session..it should not be a simple throw down by the coach or bowling for the sake of bowling..

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 9:01 GMT)

Very rightly said sir,critics should have some boundaries anyways i think people take word commitment in wrong manner. i don't think anyone who playing for Nation is lacking commitment yes skill can be monitored

Posted by drrao.nit on (January 7, 2013, 8:56 GMT)

Dear Akash ji

I think this is the First time that we wont accept your title. Plz ask Gambir & sehwag to play for country not for their individual differences with Dhoni.

Posted by Rubz on (January 7, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

The problem with Indian team and their supporters do not realize that they are not as good as they think they are. as a result they always have high expectation which also does not help the team.

Posted by rohan34mca on (January 7, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

For the first time, I don't agree with you Akash. Do you really think, after each failure Gambhir and Sehwag don't console themselves by thinking - "Thank God we have one IPL team to lead & mediocre bowlers to smash around."? Do you really think people like Pathan bros, Rohit Sharmas, R Ashwins do not be content with "Most valued cricketers in a Cash rich league"? the moment such feeling comes in, It DEMOLISHES the killer instinct to play for the country called India. Show some GUTS and admit it..

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

Its neither about skills nor commitment and definitely not the IPL. The bad performances of the Indian team are because of the lack of temperament among the players. After winning the World Cup a certain complacency has set in the team and the urge to play long innings or bowl for long hours with a good line and length, this can be attributed to the lack of accountability. Selectors do not make major changes and players like Yuvraj, Rohit Sharma, Sehwag and Jadeja have been given many chances inspite of non performance, this makes players who were performing till last year like Gambhir Virat and Raina complacent when they see that their teammates inspite of not performing remain in the team.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

I actually think commitment IS playing a part in India's current woes. Their standard of fielding is appalling - they are slow in the field, unfit and have poor catching and throwing techniques. Their running between the wickets is worse still. Their bowlers (with the exception of Ojha) wilt after a tough session and few of their batsmen have the temperament to leave anything outside off. Commitment is a lot more than just turning up on the day. Look at how hard the South Africans have had to work to gain the no 1 world ranking. India need to look to Kohli and Pujara to lead the way in the future.

Posted by HatsforBats on (January 7, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

What absolute rubbish. Take a look at several of the Indian players waistlines and tell me that they don't lack commitment. Look at their fielding and two-over bowling spells and tell me they don't lack commitment. If the embarrassment of the 0-8 flogging they took last year is not enough for these players to approach their national duties with due diligence, then it stands to reason that people will assume their seeming apathy is driven by the comfort of IPL contacts and sponsorship deals. I feel sorry for the passionate, hard working and talented Indian players who are burdened with those who are clearly blinded by their own past glories. The Indian selectors need a heavy hand and a fresh start, perhaps it will happen once a certain player reaches another pointless milestone for the sake of personal glory.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

While it is a good attempt at putting things from a player's perspective, the only thing I have to add is that while IPL is not the direct reason of our defeats it indirectly hurts us. Yes the players are not thinking about millions they get and therefore bowling a full toss or nicking the ball. But at the same time it those millions that make them complacent towards good practice, good preparation and good work ethics, all of which effect the result directly. If you ask the likes of Sanjay Manjrekar or Sunil Gavaskar who have never played in such a cash rich format, they will tell you that the kind of fire they had in their bellies to win for the country is missing in this generation. A loss should make you feel bad.... So bad that the next time you walk in the field you are much more determined and willing to give that extra that takes you to a win. While it may not happen everyday as you pointed out, but it should pinch you every time you lose.

Posted by atrivedi101 on (January 7, 2013, 7:41 GMT)

IPL may not be directly responsible at the time of playing the ball, but at the back of his mind, the cricketer knows he has a safety net in the form of IPL millions. That translates to giving that extra effort less on the field subconsciously compared to others. (Applies to Indian cricketers only, not the Aussies or S Africans who are also in the IPL.) We are satisfied with less. That fire in the belly is missing. Sorry you cannot explain away 4-0 whitewashes that way. The cricketers do not seem to be hurting.

Posted by teju666 on (January 7, 2013, 7:20 GMT)

To simply blame loss of form or skill and not commitment as the reason for this slump is absolving the players for what makes them special. It is to discount the human factor that makes the difference between success and failure. India has thousands of skilled players but a handful ever wear the Indian colours. There has to be more than skill and form to that. What would explain Dravid's powers of concentration or the mysterious inability of Rohit Sharma to do justice to his talent. Somewhere deep inside, commitment matters. Its not the commitment to bowl that one good bowl or finish a tough catch but the commitment to be on the field mentally & physically at your best at all times. When you dilute the significance of your presence on the field, no skill or form in the world can make you perform. If medial deals and IPL income becomes your motivator than these losses are but a small price to pay to riches and glamour. Sadly so!

Posted by Shajahan.P on (January 7, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

Can Dhoni face first spell against new ball bowlers in any format of Cricket! He will always comes to bat when all bowlers are tired.

Dhoni is a gud politician. In WC 2011 he promoted himself ahead of Yuvi just because he want to be hero, could not Yuva able to score in final match when he was doing well in all WC, Yuva is the real hero of both the WCs india won under dhoni's captaincy.Why not Dhoni promoting himself now when all other guys are struggling. He is a selfish guy, playing for himself and his average not for India.

what did Dhoni do to rebuild the team except dropping Sewag and including Jadeja/Rohit in.

The pressure on Sewag started because Dhoni started rotating openers from Tri-Series. From there Team India became poor.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 7:08 GMT)

Dhoni scores only after the fate of the match is sealed.

Posted by straight_driver on (January 7, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

Superb article! Wonderful, objective analysis of professionals by a professional. I wish most Indians could apply such clear thinking in daily life as well as in cricket.

Posted by sony_sr on (January 7, 2013, 7:03 GMT)

Best solution is to have 3 different teams for all 3 formats and have some rotation like aus do these days. That will make sure all players get enough rest. Another important thing is it will make sure a wide range of domestic players will get chance to perform at international level which is very important for a big country like india. we have 27 ranji teams with around 400 players. that is pretty huge when compared to other test playing nations. only around 25 out of these get to play for india. so where is the motivation for other 375+ players?

Posted by ronynairrony on (January 7, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

I rate Aakash very high as an articulate writer with integrity and one who holds the interests of cricket always paramount. However i disagree with his central contention here. Three test playing nations have been ripped apart by the IPL (India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka). We had players playing through serious shoulder injuries (and worse) in the IPL only to give national service a miss. We've had a KKR captain do worse. We've had a supposed "premier" fast bowler break down on the first day of a first test in a series. (Its been all downhill from there).And even the great man himself fell prey to "picking and choosing" more than once. The countries that respected cricket without taking it for granted, continue to do well. The countries where integrity was compromised by its cricketers (and of course, by a boards that seldom had any in the first place) today struggle to bring up the rear. Which is where India realistically belongs.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 6:52 GMT)

didn't i read few months ago you said in Ranji the fielder doesnt want to stop the ball because there is IPL coming? If you meant to say this is only for int'l matches, then i have contrary points. Imagine gambhir working on his defensive technique - would he alter the game, give up few shots ( like sachin did in 2004), grip or stance if it will compromise his scoring options in IPL. Unless the intent is there, the result will not improve. What I see is complacency on part of batsmen and bowlers that they dont go that extra mile to improve themselves like Kumble, Dravid, etc. I dont question their integrity but saying that they may not be as committed as earlier generation ( like yours) may be because there is IPL to take care also. My examples of players who have not improved/changed the game despite failues are Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Ashwin, etc. I cant include Sehwag as he is one of his kind and no one knows what works for him.

Posted by sahbas_s on (January 7, 2013, 6:46 GMT)

You have put it nicely. However, commitment always doesn't necessarily mean only their intention.It goes with their application too. Look at some of the strokes played by our batters, (e.g. Yuvi, played unnecesarily aggressive shots in last odi as if playing T20 or Gauti hardly intents to play positvely these days n wat not abt Viru), it is really making us question their commitment.The commitment level should be reflected in their application on the pitch. If it doesn't happen, we may have use the word "careless". You can't say I want to win but i would not spend time on the pitch...

Posted by Batmanian on (January 7, 2013, 6:46 GMT)

I don't think it's commitment; it's knowing their individual, sub-team (eg fast bowling trio, or upper middle order batting), and team brief for each game. The biggest problem with India is the selection set up. It is opaque and usually completely unresponsive, and occasionally skittish. I don't think the players know why they're in the team sometimes - perhaps the parochial politics aren't as bad as they used to be, but they need to professionalise selection. India has enough permutations of skills to take on any side in any conditions, but the players need to know what their roles are.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

I beg to differ sir! If you're bowling full tosses (please note the plural), it's just because you have not done enough in the nets. And that is directly related to your hunger to be the best you can be in whatever you do. Similarly, balls starting on the middle stump and going down the leg. Same with overstepping. Same with dabbing at balls wide outside the off stump. Not enough commitment. What I concede is that it may not be due the money earned in IPL, but just overconfidence and perceived lack of alternative (since the moronic selectors are scared of stars and their mentors on the board)

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 6:34 GMT)

"In fact, for most of us, the IPL dollars are the last thing to cross our minds while playing a shot or bowling a ball." May be, but it seems the reverse is more apparent, that the desire to perform well for your country is the last thing to cross on the players' minds as they can slog away in an IPL match.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

How would you, kind sir, explain the difference between the performance in the IPL and International Cricket. After all, it's the same players with the same set of skills. From where does the difference in the level of performance come? Rohit Sharma is one of the many examples. IPL or International Cricket, Rohit Sharma is Rohit Sharma; his skills did not suddenly improve or he did not suddenly gain new skills when he started playing for Deccan Chargers in the past or recently, the Mumbai Indians.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 6:26 GMT)

Aakash,Agree with you that no player will want to drop a catch or will want to get out.But the main thing one has notice is that is he putting in the same hard yards and hard work he has done to get into the team in the first place or is one taking his place for granted.And also the SUPERSTAR status of the players is not helping the cause for the players.

Posted by AdityaUpadhyay on (January 7, 2013, 5:57 GMT)

Why not question their intent ? Have Sehwag/Gambhir ever worked on their fitness ? Tell me one instance in which they have played 5 series in a row. Both of them never bowls in One-days or T20, then what is the cause of their frequent injuries? If they are so intent to play why dont they take the fitness part seriously. Not many would have noticed but after completing the century in Ahmedabad , he was converting twos to single & threes to twos. A fit Sehwag would have scored a 200 for sure in that match.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:54 GMT)

For the first time, I don't agree with you Akash. Per Wasim Akram on NDTV - "All over India when I visit camps colleges, priorities of youngsters have changed, Instead of saying I want to play for India, they say they want to be part of IPL team". I can damn guarantee you, they are thinking, "Thank God we have an IPL team to lead even if we don't do well here". (esp. Sehwag & Gambhir). As for Rohit, Ashwin etc. they don't have quality! Nobody can understand the mentality of Indians better than us ourselves. Please have some guts and write the truth!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:53 GMT)

Very Well Said Aakash Chopra, your articles are really good and thought provoking....I agree, How much Commitment or character you have, it will matter very little, if you dont have the technique. It is techique that is being tested for people like gambhir, kohli, yuraj.... And that is where they are found wanting

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:45 GMT)

Lack of skills or intent, does not really matter for us who pay money to watch the game of Cricket. Non-performers should be sacked without wasting any time. If you work in a private corporation, few (1 or 2) bad reports from the boss and you're out of the company. If players are happy listening to people chanting their names in good times, they should also be prepared to listen a thing or two when they're not playing well. I don't know why everyone is making the current problem with Indian Cricket so complicated.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:42 GMT)

Nice writeup. Somebody had to defend the players commitment/intentions, i guess, even this group of players :)

Posted by Chandrurec5 on (January 7, 2013, 5:39 GMT)

Not possessing skill is Lack Of Commitment and it is plain insult to the game. Would you visit a doctor unskilled but very committed!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

More than integrity, too much T20/IPL affects the way players choose shots in ODIs or test. Or the lack of flight for a spinner. Since all of this IPL/T20 is still new to everyone, we still cannot conclusively prove its affect on players. However, just like a season of losses gets to the best of batsmen, an IPL season full of slogs and flat bowling gets to the best of batsmen and bowlers.

Posted by rohitrakesh on (January 7, 2013, 5:27 GMT)

Aakash, you should really stop writing and concentrate on your batting for HP. Apparently, you are not good at either of the two.

Posted by sujith_sri on (January 7, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

Right, so when players play in the IPL with obvious injuries (like Gambhir, Sehwag) that jeopardize their performances for India or opt out of subsequent tours to "take a break" (like Sachin did), we are not supposed to question their commitment. It is quite obvious what the priorities are for both the players as well as the BCCI.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:24 GMT)

Very well said! Even I find this kind of criticism very distasteful...Let me be specific about certain claims which I find is hitting below the belt...

1. Dhoni is captain only because he is in CSK. 2. Raina, Jadeja, Ashwin are in the team only because they are in CSK. 3. Sehwag and Gambhir are not playing well because they want team to lose so that they can become captain. 4. Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj cannot be dropped because it will affect IPL franchise valuations.

All this kind of talk and gossip doesn't deserve to be part of any sports reporting...

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:21 GMT)

Agree.. This is hardly the fault of Indian cricketers. One cannot praise MS Dhoni enuf for the fight he is putting in series after series. This started straight after the world cup, when the exhausted World Champions were made to play 5 weeks of IPL and then send to England with no break. And it has been downhill from there. This is a failure of BCCI in managing the cricketers and the schedule, but who will mess with the Superpower or speak against it ?

Posted by sk12 on (January 7, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

No one is playing badly on purpose.. everyone plays to win matches for the country. But are they practicing hard enough? Are they learnign frm their mistakes?? Do they keep learning and improving??? several players - Ashwin, gambhir etc seem to have hit a trough.. Are they playing too much cricket? are they resting enough???

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:17 GMT)

Quite a good point made which an average fan should understand. Even though these are professional cricketers and should be able to grasp which is in their benefit and throw away which isn't but at the end of the day they are humans after all. A fan can certainly expect the intent on the field and can question the casual attitude of a player sometimes seen but he cannot question his commitment as he has gone through a lot and lot of challenges to make it at this stage, which we tend to miss sometimes. They have worked as hard as it can get to succeed. However, there is one thing which I feel is the players and the fans connect. You expect the fans to connect to these players instantly as they belong to the majority of our generation, however there seems to see a certain kind of gap. This wasn't the case with the players before this era. I guess the better communication would certainly be helpful, however this is no justification and I agree with Aakash,

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 5:12 GMT)

well said cricaakash, Totally agree... but some players body language doesn't suit the conditions....

Posted by AbAdvani on (January 7, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

I am afraid Aakash -I don't agree with you at all. A classic example is R.P. Singh -R.P was to me the unsung hero of the T20 World Cup victory -consistently bowling above 140+ kph and being able to swing. Look at where he is now -he was holidaying in Florida when he received a SOS call to play in England and his first ball was a 118 kph. The IPL has quite clearly brought down his commitment to play -he is content making millions playing in IPL and doesn't want to put that extra effort and commitment to become a regular member of the Test Cricket -He has all the talent to succeed (remember how he played a supporting role to Zaheer in the series win in England in 2007 as well as when we defeated Australia at Perth in 2008) but he refuses to put that extra commitment

Posted by Y2SJ on (January 7, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

The players are not playing bad with purpose. Just that they dont care. Worst is they dont admit that the team is bad. Favouritism in selection (Why is Rohit Sharma in?) and lethargy has ruined the team. Seems like players are playing to ensure they get selected for the next tour (Gambhir) instead of trying to win the game. Need a change in attitude. Make their salary based on performance. If you score a duck or go wicketless, no salary. Then there might be improvement. sameway make the Captain and coach's salary based in wins.

Posted by Vernacular_Press on (January 7, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

I feel there are way too many unselfish players in the team. They just give too much for the sake of the team. Gambhir could well fit into the middle order against spin or slower bowlers.He doesnt look good enough to face pacers with two new balls.

Posted by SwaroopGururaj on (January 7, 2013, 4:51 GMT)

Lack of intent mightn't be - but you have ignored the role complacence plays sometimes.

Posted by JohnnyRook on (January 7, 2013, 4:49 GMT)

I agree with Akash about some players but I disagree with him regarding others. Zaheer Khan and Sehwag very clearly look not so motivated to perform. We know their attitude towards fitness. Previous coaches (Not just Greg Chappell) have also talked about their tendency to start taking things easy if their spot in the team is safe. Same could be said about Harbhajan Singh. Fielding standard of Rohit Sharma and to some extent Yuvraj Singh has dipped drastically from earlier whereas waistline has gone up a few notches. Gambir continues to make schoolboy errors while running between the wickets, e.g. not sliding his bat. All this points to lack of motivation and thus lack of intent.

I agree that players don't throw their wickets or bowl a fulltoss because they are thinking of IPL money or ad revenue but they can and in some cases they sure let it impact their perfromance during net practice or running the laps or while on dinner table. This in turn impacts their perfromance in the match.

Posted by niks_13 on (January 7, 2013, 4:47 GMT)

Akash - I place you quite high in the list of people that I like to read for you have a sharp analytical mind. But I must disagree with you on this front - the lack of commitment and IPL riches. Would you mind letting the readers know why did Sehwag, who was injured in Australia decided to play IPL 2012 while injured knowing fully well that a tour of England was coming up? How can an Indian player be more committed to IPL than to Indian cricket team itself? Instead of taking time off, getting better, he decided to play the IPL, get injured and miss part of England tour....I am, for one, glad, that he does not feature any more in the current squad.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 4:34 GMT)

Very well written Akash. I never expected a great player like Gavaskar to criticise Team India the way he did. Our team needs support of fans more than ever before.

Posted by nyc_missile on (January 7, 2013, 4:31 GMT)

A sophisticated form of white-washing all the sins this Indian team has done..need gutsy individuals to call spade a spade..stop justifying their utterly shameful performances by some technicalities or word play

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (January 7, 2013, 4:29 GMT)

No Fan comments on the commitment of the players....and I understands even when somebody questions commitment he actually means he is questioning player's skills only......basically we all fans always follow the result and even a good shot or a drop catch can effect their extreme views or comments.....and we always believe that nobody get chance by luck to represent a national cricket team even when he get out on first ball....so there is no lack of commitment from the players in any situation and I agree with you...

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 4:11 GMT)

First we need a good coach,like Kirsten who talks to players,a good man manager & some one who can technically correct guys like gambhir,sehwag,Yuvi too... One solution for test can be to send sehwag at No.6 which will give another opener a chance to cement his place in the team & also add some experience in our middle order...gambhir doesn' seem to know whr his off stump is at the moment..

Posted by RP225 on (January 7, 2013, 4:04 GMT)

True. Nice article. Our Public is emotional and Media capitalizes on it. Keep it up.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 3:54 GMT)

Fair article! And as always, there will be / are always exceptions about his comments on player's attitudes?!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 3:29 GMT)

Come on aakash, where is the evidence for ur argument? U can clearly see that after world cup pleople took their places for granted???? r u blind? why did sachin, sehwag and so....played in IPL 2011 as if their lives depend on IPL and then took rest for WI 2011 tour..certainly they are keeping their franchize interests before national games..no way around..ur arguments ar ridiculous as it can get..we could clearly see that sehwag taking naps at slips in england tour of india..no intent at all... I can go on like this...No review of performances happens in BCCI...It seems by the end of this summer I will go away from this ridiulous hypocrites ridden indian cricket..better put my interests in German cricket..more promising

Posted by Ashish_514 on (January 7, 2013, 3:22 GMT)

I am not one of those who blame IPL in anything and everything, but the worst thing that IPL, or T20 for that matter, is doing is not with the commitment but the skills you are talking about. When the focus turns to hitting every ball, you tend to poke at a wider delivery which brings the nick. So though nicking the ball is not because of lack of commitment but lack of skill, it is still being caused due to diversion of focus on hitting the ball from playing a delivery on its merit for which IPL and T20s are responsible.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 7, 2013, 3:15 GMT)

Contrary to what so many people say, I STRONGLY feel MS Dhoni is a CLASS act. A gem of a player but suspect as captain. I will NEVER doubt MSD's commitment to Indian cricket. He's a special talent and there aren't many like him in world cricket. The century he scored against Pakistan in the first ODI at Chennai was simply one of the BEST in a long time. I don't think any other player would have even come close to doing what MS did. The current Indian team isn't short of talent or skills, they are short of confidence, planning and motivation. Add to that, constant cricket without rest and you have a recipe for disaster. This is where I feel angered at the BCCI because they have been so neglectful & disrespectful in their attitude towards the players. India are in transition. It will take a while before the current crop of players settle down and bond. Losses will be frequent but if the Indian fans are willing to be patient, I am sure we will see a good team India in the near future.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2013, 3:14 GMT)

Well... what do you say about Sahwag who doesn't even want to change his attitude a bit, even to stay at the pitch for a little longer, when he should know he is past his prime of his hand-eye coordination and reflexes has slowed down.

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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