August 10, 2014

Poor basics have brought down the standard of cricket

Test teams are more competitive these days, but it's probably because the fundamentals of backing up, running between the wickets and catching are being ignored
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Are pre-game routines designed to build on cricket's fundamental skills?
Are pre-game routines designed to build on cricket's fundamental skills? © Getty Images

The wildly fluctuating series between India and England reflects Test cricket in the last decade. Where there was once domination by West Indies and then Australia, we now have parity, at least among the top five or six teams. Certainly there's a tendency towards home advantage, but as we've seen with India and England, there's very little standing between the top teams.

Is parity better for the game than dominance?

There's no doubt cricket is a more interesting spectacle when there's a genuine tussle, as witnessed in the contrasting Tests played at Trent Bridge and Lord's. Give bowlers some encouragement and the contest can be compulsive viewing.

Unfortunately, parity has come about because the standard of the better sides has slipped a little rather than it being a case of the lesser teams raising the bar. Still, it's preferable having a logjam at the top of the table rather than one standout team followed in the distance by a bunch of also-rans.

Why has parity only been achieved through a dip in standards?

We are constantly told that batsmen are more dominant these days and that fielding standards are better than ever, but the information doesn't match reality. Batting survival techniques have deteriorated. It's power-hitting that has dramatically improved. And while some amazing catches and saves are enacted near the boundary, in the crucial area of the close cordon, chances are too often spilt because simple but critical footwork is lacking. The pursuit of the spectacular has outstripped the desire to master basics.

Much of the pre-game routines are fairy-floss rather than the meat and potatoes that help win cricket matches. One of my main concerns when the idea of international coaches was first mooted was that decisions would be taken to justify a large contract rather than be in the best interests of the player. It seems that many coaches want to leave a monument behind, and consequently there are numerous theories in existence replacing good old-fashioned tried and tested techniques.

It's interesting to reflect on the thoughts of two great practitioners of their art, Australia's Bill O'Reilly and West Indies' Sir Garfield Sobers. O'Reilly once advised a young cricketing hopeful: "If you see a coach coming, son, run a mile." Sobers was even less subtle. When some ill-informed official had the temerity to suggest he didn't have the required qualifications to coach, Garry exploded: "What do you think I got my f#@%&*! knighthood for, singing?"

Sobers deplored the fact that "great cricketers are treated as freaks; admired for their feats but ignored for the way in which they achieved them".

The basics of backing up, running between wickets, catching in the slips, and some to do with ground fielding, are being ignored. There's a tendency to salivate over the latest fashionable theory but gag on tried and tested techniques.

Two classic examples are slip catching and running between wickets. Many chances go down in the cordon because of the failure to initiate the slight turn of the foot that balances a fielder before attempting a catch away from the body. The tendency is to attempt a spectacular catch by simply falling sideways - at the risk of spilling the chance.

Why do batsmen turn blind, not watch the ball leave the bowler's hand when backing up, and insist on running down the on side of the pitch after playing a stroke when that greatly increases the chance of a collision with a partner?

These are violations of simple basics that have brought good results. They should be learnt before a budding cricketer reaches teenage years, and be ingrained in him by the time he reaches voting age.

While many coaches seek fame, players tend to concentrate on methods most likely to earn their fortune. While the former is lamentable, the latter approach is understandable.

No other sport has three vastly different forms of competition, and this complicates the issue of technique, especially in batting. However, Kumar Sangakkara is a classic example of how you don't have to sacrifice the basics in order to succeed in all three forms.

The aim should be to achieve parity by raising the overall standard.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • harshthakor on August 11, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    I agree that the standard of batting or bowling has significantly declined with far fewer truly great batsmen or bowlers and hardly any truly outstanding team.The ranking of teams is constantly in a state of flux as never before and a team at the top is hardly able to retain it's position for long.England and South Africa or even India are the best examples.Too much cricket in addition to adding 50 over and t-20 cricket has led to the decline.However the fielding level is spectacular with some of the most amazing catches pulled of and fielders leaping like acrobats to stop the ball from crossing the fence.

    On the other hand we witnesss many enthralling contests with the pendulum constantly swinging in either direction with the climaxes of Hollywod epics.In previous eras we hardly heard of teams scoring 450-500 in the 1st innings and losing tests .Arguably in no previous era have teams been so close together or reversed tables against each other in so short a span of time.

  • jay57870 on August 13, 2014, 1:15 GMT

    Ian - Why not parity? A game of musical chairs is more exciting than watching a solo show. Modern cricket is intensely competitive: there are 6 teams - SA, Oz, Eng, Ind, SL & Pak - vying for the top Test spot. Plus WI & NZ are no pushovers. In his "think tank" wisdom, Chappelli even suggested: "why not merge them (Bangladesh & Zimbabwe) to make them a more competitive side?" OMG! That's parity! Most Test matches these days yield a definite win/loss result, compared to the dreary draws of old. Call it the "ODI/T20 effect" of uncertainty, speeding up Test matches. SL prevailed over Pak in Galle in a thrilling ODI/T20-like cliff-hanger in rain! Yes, Sanga is a "classic example" of multi-tasking! The Ind-Eng series saw many twists & turns, changing outcomes on a dime. As The Bard said: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"! Since the power shift from the Eng-Oz duopoly to today's India-led cricket world, the game is more inclusive & competitive. A rising tide lifts all boats, Ian!!

  • Clyde on August 12, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    The country that now revises the duration of matches, from first class to schools, and makes them long enough for technique to count, will come out on top.

  • ygkd on August 11, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    I have a young relative who has a competitive hobby. She started at under four years of age. She's spent three years at it. It is really only just starting to click. She understands that she's not having that much fun with it now. But she's competitive. She wants to do well in the future. She knows that only technical skill will help her compete. Others have been better than her for most of that time. They are now falling by the wayside though. Hopefully, they will come back or others will come in and boost the numbers and the standard. But at least it is a past-time which is finding results with the traditional learning model - hard-work and discipline - and avoiding the management-speak of quick, easy fixes. There was a time though, in her early days, when different teachers had an eye to making things fun for all. She had fun, but learnt nothing. If this had continued she would have dropped out by now. Long-term high-quality prospects must be considered. They are not to be wasted.

  • ygkd on August 11, 2014, 22:16 GMT

    Jarrod Kimber wrote recently on this site "Sports teams love business fads, because people in sports haven't worked in business much, so they have no idea how unimpressive business methods are." He is correct. Yet, cricket in Australia is increasingly run as a half-business. I say half-business, because it can never be a full business. But neither is it fully just a sport. It is neither fish nor fowl, neither one thing nor another. T20, which can be quite fun, is an example of this. It is like so many computer games - however much fun may be had, at the end of the day, how much is being learnt? And yet T20 is the answer to all of our junior development problems or so we are increasingly lead to believe. I have a simple alternative. Kids want to play if they can be good at something. They can understand that one has to work at it. They don't always require instant gratification. And they don't require cotton-wool-smothering to the degree that the modern world seems to demand.

  • ygkd on August 11, 2014, 22:05 GMT

    Glad to see the comments from Hammond & Insult_2_Injury (on 11/8). In our area, we are preparing for more T20 in juniors. Good stuff. It'll get the kids in. And most won't get anywhere. They'll just drop out having learnt nothing. Schools cricket? In our region, what schools cricket? Schools play only rubber-ball super-modified cotton-wool cricket - can't even call it cricket - or usually don't play it at all. Our country club has a recent proud history of trying to develop kids, but we struggle against the belief that because we've been winning that's all we're trying to do. That isn't the case at all. We won in juniors because we developed talent. We'd like to do more for more kids, but we don't have the resources. And all we hear are "the retention rate" and "T20". T20 is a cause of some problems - not the answer to all of them. And attracting in new players at the age of 12, 13 or 14 seems to be beyond our region's radar as regards what is possible. It is all management-speak.

  • shahzaibq on August 11, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    I do feel that batting has become easier with the advent of protection, restrictions placed on bowlers and fielders,etc, resulting in a decline in quality. But it has more to do with the mindset of the administrators of the game than the mindsets of those playing it. Let the bowler bowl bouncers, and the batsmen will learn to cope with it, increasing the intensity and the quality of their batsmanship. As far as rankings go, I think the FTP is certainly to be blamed for the logjam. I still think that there are a couple of teams that are a few steps ahead of the rest, but the rest cannot be blamed for a very very lopsided schedule. Unless every team plays every other team on a regular basis, with approximately the same amount of tests as others, the quality won't improve. To see a team struggling in a Test because they haven't played one for nine-ten months, against a team coming off a month break is just painful.

  • crickketlover on August 11, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    Poor basics and also more importantly lack of patience in playing test cricket.

  • CricketChat on August 11, 2014, 17:56 GMT

    In T20s, players can get away with obvious weaknesses as there isn't enough time for the opponents to work on them. Tests are a different matter altogether. In the old days, players had no choice but to work on overcoming technical deficiencies if they wanted a long career. Now a days, it's totally different. The badly failed Indian batsmen will go back to IPL on dullest possible pitches and make both lot of money and runs. All will be well soon. No one will remember much about the Eng tour debacles.

  • VB_Says on August 11, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    I agree that todays batsmen are more likely to lose their wicket earlier than those from Ian's era. But to blame techique alone for that is incorrect. Todays players attempt strokeplay more than ever. There is a constant focus on scoring runs at a competitive run rate. Teams are strategically more inclined towards producing favorable results. For players, Test match cricket is still the ultimate competition. But, they would not be prepared to bat hours only to showcase patience if it doesnt benefit their team's strategy to win.

    T20 and 50-50 have definitely affected young players, but it is only part of evolution process. The desire to score more runs, pick more wickets and save more runs will finally drive players to become good cricketers.

  • harshthakor on August 11, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    I agree that the standard of batting or bowling has significantly declined with far fewer truly great batsmen or bowlers and hardly any truly outstanding team.The ranking of teams is constantly in a state of flux as never before and a team at the top is hardly able to retain it's position for long.England and South Africa or even India are the best examples.Too much cricket in addition to adding 50 over and t-20 cricket has led to the decline.However the fielding level is spectacular with some of the most amazing catches pulled of and fielders leaping like acrobats to stop the ball from crossing the fence.

    On the other hand we witnesss many enthralling contests with the pendulum constantly swinging in either direction with the climaxes of Hollywod epics.In previous eras we hardly heard of teams scoring 450-500 in the 1st innings and losing tests .Arguably in no previous era have teams been so close together or reversed tables against each other in so short a span of time.

  • jay57870 on August 13, 2014, 1:15 GMT

    Ian - Why not parity? A game of musical chairs is more exciting than watching a solo show. Modern cricket is intensely competitive: there are 6 teams - SA, Oz, Eng, Ind, SL & Pak - vying for the top Test spot. Plus WI & NZ are no pushovers. In his "think tank" wisdom, Chappelli even suggested: "why not merge them (Bangladesh & Zimbabwe) to make them a more competitive side?" OMG! That's parity! Most Test matches these days yield a definite win/loss result, compared to the dreary draws of old. Call it the "ODI/T20 effect" of uncertainty, speeding up Test matches. SL prevailed over Pak in Galle in a thrilling ODI/T20-like cliff-hanger in rain! Yes, Sanga is a "classic example" of multi-tasking! The Ind-Eng series saw many twists & turns, changing outcomes on a dime. As The Bard said: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"! Since the power shift from the Eng-Oz duopoly to today's India-led cricket world, the game is more inclusive & competitive. A rising tide lifts all boats, Ian!!

  • Clyde on August 12, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    The country that now revises the duration of matches, from first class to schools, and makes them long enough for technique to count, will come out on top.

  • ygkd on August 11, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    I have a young relative who has a competitive hobby. She started at under four years of age. She's spent three years at it. It is really only just starting to click. She understands that she's not having that much fun with it now. But she's competitive. She wants to do well in the future. She knows that only technical skill will help her compete. Others have been better than her for most of that time. They are now falling by the wayside though. Hopefully, they will come back or others will come in and boost the numbers and the standard. But at least it is a past-time which is finding results with the traditional learning model - hard-work and discipline - and avoiding the management-speak of quick, easy fixes. There was a time though, in her early days, when different teachers had an eye to making things fun for all. She had fun, but learnt nothing. If this had continued she would have dropped out by now. Long-term high-quality prospects must be considered. They are not to be wasted.

  • ygkd on August 11, 2014, 22:16 GMT

    Jarrod Kimber wrote recently on this site "Sports teams love business fads, because people in sports haven't worked in business much, so they have no idea how unimpressive business methods are." He is correct. Yet, cricket in Australia is increasingly run as a half-business. I say half-business, because it can never be a full business. But neither is it fully just a sport. It is neither fish nor fowl, neither one thing nor another. T20, which can be quite fun, is an example of this. It is like so many computer games - however much fun may be had, at the end of the day, how much is being learnt? And yet T20 is the answer to all of our junior development problems or so we are increasingly lead to believe. I have a simple alternative. Kids want to play if they can be good at something. They can understand that one has to work at it. They don't always require instant gratification. And they don't require cotton-wool-smothering to the degree that the modern world seems to demand.

  • ygkd on August 11, 2014, 22:05 GMT

    Glad to see the comments from Hammond & Insult_2_Injury (on 11/8). In our area, we are preparing for more T20 in juniors. Good stuff. It'll get the kids in. And most won't get anywhere. They'll just drop out having learnt nothing. Schools cricket? In our region, what schools cricket? Schools play only rubber-ball super-modified cotton-wool cricket - can't even call it cricket - or usually don't play it at all. Our country club has a recent proud history of trying to develop kids, but we struggle against the belief that because we've been winning that's all we're trying to do. That isn't the case at all. We won in juniors because we developed talent. We'd like to do more for more kids, but we don't have the resources. And all we hear are "the retention rate" and "T20". T20 is a cause of some problems - not the answer to all of them. And attracting in new players at the age of 12, 13 or 14 seems to be beyond our region's radar as regards what is possible. It is all management-speak.

  • shahzaibq on August 11, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    I do feel that batting has become easier with the advent of protection, restrictions placed on bowlers and fielders,etc, resulting in a decline in quality. But it has more to do with the mindset of the administrators of the game than the mindsets of those playing it. Let the bowler bowl bouncers, and the batsmen will learn to cope with it, increasing the intensity and the quality of their batsmanship. As far as rankings go, I think the FTP is certainly to be blamed for the logjam. I still think that there are a couple of teams that are a few steps ahead of the rest, but the rest cannot be blamed for a very very lopsided schedule. Unless every team plays every other team on a regular basis, with approximately the same amount of tests as others, the quality won't improve. To see a team struggling in a Test because they haven't played one for nine-ten months, against a team coming off a month break is just painful.

  • crickketlover on August 11, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    Poor basics and also more importantly lack of patience in playing test cricket.

  • CricketChat on August 11, 2014, 17:56 GMT

    In T20s, players can get away with obvious weaknesses as there isn't enough time for the opponents to work on them. Tests are a different matter altogether. In the old days, players had no choice but to work on overcoming technical deficiencies if they wanted a long career. Now a days, it's totally different. The badly failed Indian batsmen will go back to IPL on dullest possible pitches and make both lot of money and runs. All will be well soon. No one will remember much about the Eng tour debacles.

  • VB_Says on August 11, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    I agree that todays batsmen are more likely to lose their wicket earlier than those from Ian's era. But to blame techique alone for that is incorrect. Todays players attempt strokeplay more than ever. There is a constant focus on scoring runs at a competitive run rate. Teams are strategically more inclined towards producing favorable results. For players, Test match cricket is still the ultimate competition. But, they would not be prepared to bat hours only to showcase patience if it doesnt benefit their team's strategy to win.

    T20 and 50-50 have definitely affected young players, but it is only part of evolution process. The desire to score more runs, pick more wickets and save more runs will finally drive players to become good cricketers.

  • Hammond on August 11, 2014, 9:52 GMT

    I coached an Under 10's cricket team once, I was criticised for focusing on teaching the back and front foot defences first, the parents wanted reverse sweeps and late cuts from ball one. There is a heavy focus in (Australia at least) on limited overs cricket at a young age that does not lend itself to proper batting technique later. The great batsman of the past talk in their biographies about batting for hours and hours in school matches, and learning patience and technique at a very young age. Such opportunities just don't exist in this fast paced modern world of ours. Test match cricket may remain, but proper test match players are as obsolete as an 8 ball over or the back foot bowling rule. They even talk about run rates in test cricket now.

  • Insult_2_Injury on August 11, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    The basics are being ignored in cricket just as they are in schools. There's a educator arrogance in society today that it was someone else's job to teach the fundamentals. Junior coaches have in the main swallowed this line of participation and back slapping being king, lest we turn off potential cricketers with teaching and discipline. The new focus to attract young kids from CA, for Australia's upcoming summer is 'Play Cricket' which is great as an advertising hook, but it isn't a replacement for Learn to play cricket. While the stumps are in the same spot and remain the focus of the game, technique to defend and attack them will be the key to consistently winning.

  • harshthakor on August 11, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    The test series or individual tests in the modern era still prove that test cricket is the most interesting form of cricket.The 2010 series between South Africa and Australia ,particularly the 2nd test was a classic example and so were the 2013 Trent Bridge Ashes test and the 2012 test between India and West Indies at Mumbai..Teams score at spectacular scoring rates as never before .We have many more results and upsets than before and more games where the tide completely turns.

    What has let us down is preparing flat pitches and restricting bouncers by the I.C.C.

    We need to consolidate the positive developments to revive the standard of the game in the 1970's ,80's and 90's to create more Imran Khan's or Tendulkars and teams like CLive Lloyds West Indians or Ricky Pontings Australians.

  • on August 11, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    England is just recovering from the loss of Strauss, Trott, Pietersen and Swan and it is bound to take some time. Definitely for experience Sri Lanka were a better side but they did not win easily.

    In respect of India none of our commentators accept it because they are also actively involved, it is the IPL which is contributing a great deal to our losses overseas, our fast bowlers are getting burnt up playing in it and also the huge number of our batsman don't have to move their feet, which is essential in overseas conditions

    Well as Johnson might have bowled but they were in helpful conditions in Australia & South Africa, want to see him bowl in test matches in India and Sri Lanka. Dennis Lillee whom Chappel l rates highly never played much cricket in the sub continent, in the only series he played in Pakistan, he took 1 wicket for about 450 runs in 3 test matches. .

  • xtrafalgarx on August 11, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    @Icommoner: SA are doing pretty well, but by no means dominating. They draw lots of series, a lot of which are 2 test series. You only need to win one test in a two test series and you are safe, and SA play more of those than not.

  • ninjapintu on August 11, 2014, 1:26 GMT

    I don't think the series between ENG and IND can be a measure of test cricket. Both teams are struggling and will fall apart in front of any other team. ENG just lost to SL in their own home and IND are just ducks outside the subcontinent. I think test cricket today is dominated by SA and AUS and it can be seen from the test ratings where there is a huge difference between no. 2 and 3. And these problems of slip cordon, running, and showing grit cannot be seen in those 2 teams.

  • JoshFromJamRock on August 11, 2014, 1:13 GMT

    Why full status cricket can't be expanded beyond 10 teams is the question I want to be answered. If we can't have 32 quality nations/teams competing, can't we at least work towards a "world cup" where the major regions of the world assemble their best squads to compete for a title? At least in football, despite the disparity in quality, the regions of the world take pride when a constituent country wins.

    Its a big ask but wouldn't it be wonderful if Oceania, Africa, South East Asia, South Asia, East Asia, West Europe, East Europe, North America, Central America, South America, the Middle East and the Caribbean assembled their best players just for a short tournament? Sure the most experienced regions like Oceania and South Asia are expected to dominate but the point is that the game would have become more inclusive rather than being a sort of elitist sport.

    May happen 4 generations from now (when we're all dead) or it may never happen. Just food for thought. Cricinfo please publish

  • Mikelord on August 11, 2014, 0:34 GMT

    What everyone has forgotten is that most sports nowadays are professional, which means played for money, and winning must happen at any cost! This is a great shame particularly in cricket there used to be a phrase "that's just not cricket!", which is now irrelevant. Downright cheating, gamesmanship and sportsmanship have become very grey areas, sadly.

  • wellrounded87 on August 11, 2014, 0:07 GMT

    @Twinkie Johnson has had more than one really good series. In addition to his destruction of England he decimated SA in SA this year. He also had great series against SA both in Australia and SA in the past. I believe he had a pretty damn good dig in India a few years ago as well.

    But he has also been very eratic, so I wouldn't call him one of the greats for his inconsistency, but at his best he is one of the most destructive bowlers I've ever seen. However if you want players that just retired that would be considered greats of the game.

    Kallis, Jayawardene, Tendulker, Dravid, Laxman, Ponting, Smith, Hussey.

    Just to name a few.

  • wellrounded87 on August 11, 2014, 0:01 GMT

    @icommoner I think that's a very big call. At the moment there is very little seperating SA and AUS.

    And to compare them to AUS and WI of the past is ludicrous. Those two top sides won a hell of a lot more than they drew. SA don't play to win, they play not to lose. They are very good at it yes, but for that fact they aren't in the same company as the Aussies of the 90's early 00's and Windies of the 70's/80's.

    Plus they are also in a big rebuilding phase after losing Kallis and Smith. And with Steyn at 31 and already having to slow his pace down to maintain durability he probably isn't far off retirment.

    I think world cricket is as close as it has been in my time. SA and Aus are the front runners at the moment. Ind, Pak and SL are nipping at the heels. NZ are on the up and Bangladesh is gaining some respectability. ENG and WI are in trouble though. England will no doubt bounce back, WI's troubles seem much deeper rooted and they might never recover.

  • icommoner on August 10, 2014, 23:16 GMT

    After WI and Aus. I think we can safely say South Africa is dominating test cricket for six, seven years now.

  • haq33 on August 10, 2014, 21:40 GMT

    I have never agreed with Chappell on anything.....until now that is.

  • Mr_Anonymous on August 10, 2014, 20:28 GMT

    I think it is unsustainable to have 3 formats for the game and do justice to each one of these. I think it is a big mistake to want 5 Test series. I think the maximum length of a Test series should be 3 Tests. 5 Test series should be left for those countries where there is an interest in the competition (e.g. Ashes, Test Team ranked no. 1 v/s Test Team ranked no. 2). However, considering that contracts have already been signed by the Big 3 to play 4 and 5 Test series going forward, the best thing to do would be have more "A" team exposure for such series and make the contests more competitive. 18 member teams may become the norm (atleast for India) for an away 5-Test series.

    No. of ODIs also probably need to be trimmed from 5 to 3 for each series. The good news is that atleast for this series, the ODI squad will have a different look and we can expect more energy and enthusiasm from the newer members of the squad. Still Bhuvi and Shami could have been rested from the ODIs.

  • on August 10, 2014, 17:52 GMT

    Lets admit kids are taught not to think and given any space to develop, but their parents and all those fame-craving coaches want to impose their fancied new theories about the game on the genx players. And not very surprisingly the theories are bought into what with all the so-called experienced players-turned-commentators shouting their head off. Chappell is a rare exception and I dare say there is none on the scene thats anywhere closer to him. I just cant imagine the n/o catches that get taken these days on the boundary that look so extraordinary with all the antics that one can show off!! yeah with ABD being hailed the best modern player and folks awe-struck with him, antics are gonna be the order of the day. As for india, i cant think of a better all-round fielder than kaif very recently, the rest as i said are show ponies!

  • whirlaway on August 10, 2014, 16:03 GMT

    Completely agree with Mr. Chappell. Nowhere has the the lack of basics been more evident than in the present Indian team. They don't seem to know how to bat when the close-in fielders are around. They can't handle the fact that fast bowlers don't go away after bowling 2 overs. As fielders, they have forgotten how to take catches in the slips, short leg positions. As bowlers, they don't know how to take wickets; they only try to contain the flow of runs and are not successful even in that.

    Indian cricket fans have to take a share of the blame here. They are big fans of the T20 IPL matches, where bowlers are presented as if they are lambs about to be slaughtered. With the lifeless bowling tracks and incredibly short boundaries (60 yards or less), there are runs aplenty. How can a bowler survive in such conditions?! And yet, the same Indian fans bemoan the lack of quality pace bowlers in Tests! Good pace bowlers come out of a proper cricket system, not out of thin air!

  • on August 10, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    Obviously all of you against this article have 10,000 test runs and have captained your countries. When people like Ian Chappel point out flaws , let's acknowledge them.

    If the famous West Indian, Pakistani, Australian and English fast bowlers of yore were to bowl at the so called 'masters' of the present game, we would see that the best of this generation wouldn't average more than 20. Quality is down and quantity rules the roost.

  • heathrf1974 on August 10, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    I think a lack of tour matches to previous years makes it harder for away teams to adapt as well.

  • on August 10, 2014, 14:24 GMT

    hello BCCI there is no problem of basics.. ther is lack of concentration.. and lack of poor shot selection.. and one more thing is we dont hav senior experience players.. try to pick sme senior players in team eg: opening pair should be rahane,gambhir middle order kohli rohit pujara dhoni jadeja, and talenders ashwin bhuvi shami zaheer or ishant.. plz this is nt indian pitches this is out of...

  • on August 10, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    I remember what has happened with ishant sharma , when he came from his first australia tour , he was regarded as nxt best bowler in the world , but i remember whn india traveled to srilanka , our bowling coach at that time prasad told to media that he wants ishant to learn outswing and coming close to stumps , at that time i knew that ishant will loose his rhythm and his natural strength , and exactly that has happened .

  • Twinkie on August 10, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    i agree with you, Mr. Chappell. Any attempt by the older folks to criticise the new order is seen as sour grapes, but I am not an ex=cricketer and just this week i said the same thing. The basics of cricket are being ignored. I dare anyone to name me ten great players who have just quit or are on the verge of quitting cricket; players whose names will stay with us for fifty years after they quit. Among those who are playing the only standout bowler is Steyn. Johnson has just had one really good series. Not enough to be called great yet. Where are the batsmen who nobody wants to bowl at? The cricket may be more competitive but the standard of cricket is poor. These cricketers are mere mortals. Where are the super heroes? Not many around! As for the coaching problem The WICB is now in possession of a report which links our declining standards with the advent of foreign coaches. All they did was take the West Indian out of the West Indian!

  • on August 10, 2014, 12:07 GMT

    some of the arguments on this page are horrendously futile. Cricket is a game - the team who scores the most runs within the rules of the game and its associated playing conditions wins. Because a fielder doesnt throw right over the top of the stumps might well be a 'declination of the standard of the skill'. But in taking the time to get the throw and its technique right the batsmen have taken an extra run. Chris Read would of at best had a test average of say 25 - almost 20 runs an innings less than Prior. A basic life skill it to catch a ball. Far easier to do that than teach someone to score test 100's - I put it down to older player jealousy that the game has moved on and there is nothing they can do about it

  • on August 10, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    at present T 20 kills test cricket. we can see that elegant shots in test cricket frequently. but now it is reduced. people in india talking about big hitting, this generation's youngsters does'nt feel about classical push on the off side. commercial makes cricket imperfect

  • on August 10, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    Good to see Chappell highlighting two of my pet hates: the decline in close catching and the lamentable batting techniques now widely available.

    Close catching is not a patch on what it once was. Much of that is probably down to the decline of the specialist close catcher. You never saw the likes of Cowdrey and Phil Sharpe anywhere but slip. Now fielders are put all over the place.

    In addition, the lack of slow bowling and the over-emphasis on batting prowess has led to a an even more serious decline in wicket keeping. England's wicket keeping duties over the past ten years should have been in the hands of Foster and Read, both of who incidentally have career batting averages in the mid thirties. How successively, Geraint Jones, Tim Ambrose and Matt Prior could have been thought a better bet is mystifying.

    As for batting techniques, probably nine out of ten young English batsmen adopt the baseball stance with bat raised and either early trigger movements or too rigid a stance.

  • on August 10, 2014, 11:25 GMT

    Nowadays T20 cricket has spoiled the batsmen to be patience, which is the key for TEST cricket, Indians play more T20- ipl etc., if you see over the years form the day T20 pattern of cricket started - the Indian Test cricket form gradually decreased OVERSEAS. See the player Michael clarke who switched off T20 game to be successful in Test cricket.

  • 4test90 on August 10, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    I am so glad that the issue of running down the on side of the pitch has been brought up - I don't know when this started, perhaps after the rise of 20/20, but it is very concerning. One other thing I would note is that players don't seem to be able to play a range of strokes nowadays. The straight drive and late cut seem to have gone the way of the hook and leg glance into extinction.

  • ygkd on August 10, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    Concerns regarding the quality of throwing at the stumps, outlined by TheDoctor394, should be expected in an era where keeping skills have also declined. Why? Because a main task of a keeper is to keep such fielding standards high on the field of play. If a keeper can barely do his own job properly how will he convey the need for high standards to others? This also has implications for slipping - which is mentioned above as a declining standard. It is the keeper's job to regulate distance back from the stumps and even, to some extent, the distance between the slips themselves (certainly that between himself and first slip). However, batsmen/keepers generally keep too far back in order to cover their deficiencies and, thus, reduce byes, but what they also reduce are the wickets taken. Old-style keepers demanded good throws. They demanded the ball in batting-end run-out situations. They got to the stumps, not in the road. They stayed within range for both catches and run-outs.

  • glacier_143 on August 10, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    When you have opted for a guy like Gary Kirsten to be a full time coach for India and achieve all the success with more of aggressive cricket, why would you not choose a successor like Steve Waugh or modern greats to bring in that factor in your cricket plans, By picking Duncan Fletcher, Indian cricket has gone back to days when we had tough away tours. I do not know if anyone would agree but i don't see any batsman in current Indian line up who can give an impression of Dravid, Tendulkar or Sehwag, who even if they are out of form, still are a threat for the series because of their game plans on away tours.

  • Indian_1982 on August 10, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    I agree with Ian Chappel. I don't really understand the fascination for foreign coaches. It makes sense if they really are a genius at coaching. I always wonder why India 'A' team with a domestic coach always does well, while the same set of players when selected for the senior team loose charm and fare very badly.

  • on August 10, 2014, 7:39 GMT

    Where India is getting it all wrong - a batsman / bowler / fielder is tested in T20 before being picked for an ODI, tested in an ODI before being picked in a Test match, whereas the basics for all 3 are radically different. Bowlers - Stamina to bowl 15 overs is not tested, ability to buy wickets in unfriendly conditions is not tested. Batsmen - patience to play out 4 good maidens to bide their time is not tested, ability to play good percentage cricket is not tested. Fielders - with rare if any slips, slip catching is not even a required skill in T20's & ODI's.

  • TheDoctor394 on August 10, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    A basic that no-one seems to be mentioning, but I believe has been in decline for years, is throwing. For some time now, throwing in world cricket has been dreadful. Shots at the stumps rarely result in direct hits, while throws from the outfield, more often than not, are sprayed all over the place, sending the keeper, or whoever is at the bowling end, flying in numerous directions trying to take the ball. It dismays me that no-one seems to have noticed this. And if they have, it dismays me why it's not mentioned.

  • Biggus on August 10, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug:- I don't think it's just England where over coaching might occur at junior levels. I think it's a world wide trend and has been for some time, particularly in the older test nations. Take a look at bowling actions these days. Most of them look much the same. When I was cutting my teeth in the mid seventies weird and whacky (but often very effective) bowling actions were EVERYWHERE. Max Walker, Mike Procter, Jeff Thomson, Alan 'Froggy' Thompson, Bhagwat Chandrasekar, Colin Croft, Lance Gibbs, Lance Cairns and many more.....how many of these would coaches have gone to work on had they existed at the time in the way they do today.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on August 10, 2014, 7:02 GMT

    Chappel certainly has a point with coaches inflated opinions of their relevance but I take issue with his old fashioned attitudes toward ex players. Having been a decent player does not automatically make you a decent coach. There's also an attitude problem here, if you think you know everything already and can't learn anything from a coach you're likely a know it all. Good coaches won't mess with methods that work. The over coaching at junior levels is clearly why the likes of England have not and never will produce excellent players like Malinga, Muralitharan, Chanderpaul etc.

  • xtrafalgarx on August 10, 2014, 7:02 GMT

    Now hang on, hang on hang on. Wasn't it just a few months ago that we were saying that there is a great imbalance in test cricket these days due to the advantage the home teams have? Now, after a few away wins i.e (AUS in SA, SL in ENG, SA in SL, NZ in WI) everyone is rubbish?

    I agree that the standard of cricket has dropped significantly all around, however i don't think it's fair to paint everyone with the same brush. If anyone has dropped it is India. They were world no.1 not too long ago and held it for a while, but their priorities are elsewhere because of ODI cricket and T20 cricket, and they are tumbling down the rabbit hole.

    I think SA, ENG and AUS standards are up there. Yes, England have had a bad trot, but it's not too long ago they fielded an XI with the likes of Strauss,Cook,Bell,Trott,KP,Swann and Anderson - which in hindsight was probaby a great team, though it didn't last very long. The Standards of NZ and SL have improved and PAK is not too bad.

  • sumitdubey1402 on August 10, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    bcci plz back sehwag , gambhir , yuvraj , harbhajan and from my side playing 11 is sehwag , gambhir , pujara , yuvraj , kohli , dhoni,stuart binny , bhuvneswar , harbhajan , ishant , zaheer plz think about that batting line up

  • msg90 on August 10, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    @ksriniasu: I'd like to see this Australian side play Steve Waugh's 2001-2006 Australian side. I think that that side was quite possibly the best side that's ever been especially in terms of fundamentals.

    One of the key evidences of India's biggest problems is its slips fielding. I'm a slipper, and I can tell you it's hard work, but if you have the basic technique down it's not hard. One of the best things that can happen to a good slips cordon is to have a wicketkeeper who communicates well to them in relation to where they are and where they should be. Dhoni doesn't do this at all well, and until it improves, India will always be mediocre behind the stumps.

  • Chris_P on August 10, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    "The running on the onside of the pitch is to possibly avoid any confrontation with the bowler (Lillee-Miandad?) " When you get coached and when you coach, as I do, the batsman is told to run along the edge of the pitch.. every bowler takes at least 2 steps to his left after bowling, I been playing for over 3o years and only ever once touched a bowler and that was when he stepped back into me. Chappell is totally correct in his view of standards, techniques have gone sloppy.

  • Kirk_Levin on August 10, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    Indians give up when the going gets tough. They always have. That's why they get hammered away from home so often. Easy scoring runs on flat and docile pitches mate. But that doesn't make the likes of Kohli or Rohit, the next Bradman or Viv Richard.

  • MarinManiac on August 10, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    There seems to be a mindset against playing each situation as the situation demands -- instead of "that's the way I play" there should be "when we're in this situation, I will play to overcome it"-- whether said situation is due to the conditions, the opposition, or the stage of the game. Is this due to too many opinions (you have multiple coaches, backroom staff, statistics, etc. associated with every team) or simply a mindset driven by possible IPL contracts and other lucrative opportunities? I would also look at the equipment, the pitches, and scheduling as factors. England, if they want to win in Australia, should play the previous series using the Kookaburra ball. Australia should play with the Dukes ball this summer against India, by the same token. And I would love to see 5 tests per series for a summer -- with touring sides getting to play more first class games as a pre-amble and between games. Maximum of three one dayers, and three 20/20s, all to be had at the very end.

  • on August 10, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    The running on the onside of the pitch is to possibly avoid any confrontation with the bowler (Lillee-Miandad?) and risk banging with your own teammate on the other end :D

  • on August 10, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    I think the saddest part is the batting survival techniques. Only SA consistently show fight and gumption to draw a test match by scrapping through two tough days of batting. The only other instance was in Wellington earlier this year, but that was against a toothless attack. An example of the non-fight shown is yesterday's test at OT: Heavy showers were forecast for today and tomorrow, possibly wiping out two days of play but India showed zero fight and gave no chance to save themselves. Power hitting is fun to watch, but it involves the least skill of all the disciplines in cricket.

  • ksriniasu on August 10, 2014, 3:01 GMT

    I think Australian team of today (post resurrection of Mitch Johnson) is as good as it has ever been. They have fast bowlers who can bully you, and up and coming spinner, a very decent batting line up and their fielding standards have always been high. South Africa is also very close to as good as they have been in the past. Again, they have fast bowlers, decent batsmen and great fielders. England of today is probably as good as England of late nineties/early 2000. The teams that have fallen by the wayside are India and Pakistan. Pakistan has its own problems, and the Indians will never come out of mediocrity as long as Srini is at the helm of affairs, and Dhoni is in the cricket field for test matches. Neither team has ever been known as good fielding side.

    While I agree that coaches are there to ensure re-distribution of wealth and to ruin existing talent, it would be good to see some statistics on dropped catches and run-outs before we draw conclusions on them.

  • ksriniasu on August 10, 2014, 3:01 GMT

    I think Australian team of today (post resurrection of Mitch Johnson) is as good as it has ever been. They have fast bowlers who can bully you, and up and coming spinner, a very decent batting line up and their fielding standards have always been high. South Africa is also very close to as good as they have been in the past. Again, they have fast bowlers, decent batsmen and great fielders. England of today is probably as good as England of late nineties/early 2000. The teams that have fallen by the wayside are India and Pakistan. Pakistan has its own problems, and the Indians will never come out of mediocrity as long as Srini is at the helm of affairs, and Dhoni is in the cricket field for test matches. Neither team has ever been known as good fielding side.

    While I agree that coaches are there to ensure re-distribution of wealth and to ruin existing talent, it would be good to see some statistics on dropped catches and run-outs before we draw conclusions on them.

  • on August 10, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    I think the saddest part is the batting survival techniques. Only SA consistently show fight and gumption to draw a test match by scrapping through two tough days of batting. The only other instance was in Wellington earlier this year, but that was against a toothless attack. An example of the non-fight shown is yesterday's test at OT: Heavy showers were forecast for today and tomorrow, possibly wiping out two days of play but India showed zero fight and gave no chance to save themselves. Power hitting is fun to watch, but it involves the least skill of all the disciplines in cricket.

  • on August 10, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    The running on the onside of the pitch is to possibly avoid any confrontation with the bowler (Lillee-Miandad?) and risk banging with your own teammate on the other end :D

  • MarinManiac on August 10, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    There seems to be a mindset against playing each situation as the situation demands -- instead of "that's the way I play" there should be "when we're in this situation, I will play to overcome it"-- whether said situation is due to the conditions, the opposition, or the stage of the game. Is this due to too many opinions (you have multiple coaches, backroom staff, statistics, etc. associated with every team) or simply a mindset driven by possible IPL contracts and other lucrative opportunities? I would also look at the equipment, the pitches, and scheduling as factors. England, if they want to win in Australia, should play the previous series using the Kookaburra ball. Australia should play with the Dukes ball this summer against India, by the same token. And I would love to see 5 tests per series for a summer -- with touring sides getting to play more first class games as a pre-amble and between games. Maximum of three one dayers, and three 20/20s, all to be had at the very end.

  • Kirk_Levin on August 10, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    Indians give up when the going gets tough. They always have. That's why they get hammered away from home so often. Easy scoring runs on flat and docile pitches mate. But that doesn't make the likes of Kohli or Rohit, the next Bradman or Viv Richard.

  • Chris_P on August 10, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    "The running on the onside of the pitch is to possibly avoid any confrontation with the bowler (Lillee-Miandad?) " When you get coached and when you coach, as I do, the batsman is told to run along the edge of the pitch.. every bowler takes at least 2 steps to his left after bowling, I been playing for over 3o years and only ever once touched a bowler and that was when he stepped back into me. Chappell is totally correct in his view of standards, techniques have gone sloppy.

  • msg90 on August 10, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    @ksriniasu: I'd like to see this Australian side play Steve Waugh's 2001-2006 Australian side. I think that that side was quite possibly the best side that's ever been especially in terms of fundamentals.

    One of the key evidences of India's biggest problems is its slips fielding. I'm a slipper, and I can tell you it's hard work, but if you have the basic technique down it's not hard. One of the best things that can happen to a good slips cordon is to have a wicketkeeper who communicates well to them in relation to where they are and where they should be. Dhoni doesn't do this at all well, and until it improves, India will always be mediocre behind the stumps.

  • sumitdubey1402 on August 10, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    bcci plz back sehwag , gambhir , yuvraj , harbhajan and from my side playing 11 is sehwag , gambhir , pujara , yuvraj , kohli , dhoni,stuart binny , bhuvneswar , harbhajan , ishant , zaheer plz think about that batting line up

  • xtrafalgarx on August 10, 2014, 7:02 GMT

    Now hang on, hang on hang on. Wasn't it just a few months ago that we were saying that there is a great imbalance in test cricket these days due to the advantage the home teams have? Now, after a few away wins i.e (AUS in SA, SL in ENG, SA in SL, NZ in WI) everyone is rubbish?

    I agree that the standard of cricket has dropped significantly all around, however i don't think it's fair to paint everyone with the same brush. If anyone has dropped it is India. They were world no.1 not too long ago and held it for a while, but their priorities are elsewhere because of ODI cricket and T20 cricket, and they are tumbling down the rabbit hole.

    I think SA, ENG and AUS standards are up there. Yes, England have had a bad trot, but it's not too long ago they fielded an XI with the likes of Strauss,Cook,Bell,Trott,KP,Swann and Anderson - which in hindsight was probaby a great team, though it didn't last very long. The Standards of NZ and SL have improved and PAK is not too bad.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on August 10, 2014, 7:02 GMT

    Chappel certainly has a point with coaches inflated opinions of their relevance but I take issue with his old fashioned attitudes toward ex players. Having been a decent player does not automatically make you a decent coach. There's also an attitude problem here, if you think you know everything already and can't learn anything from a coach you're likely a know it all. Good coaches won't mess with methods that work. The over coaching at junior levels is clearly why the likes of England have not and never will produce excellent players like Malinga, Muralitharan, Chanderpaul etc.