England v India, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 3rd day August 17, 2014

One-day barrier to Indian Test progress

With too great an emphasis on limited-overs cricket, MS Dhoni's side have a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests
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MS Dhoni's captaincy is uncertain in Test cricket
MS Dhoni's captaincy is uncertain in Test cricket © Getty Images

How does a professional team crumble in the way India have done this last month? What are the elements that combine to turn distinguished cricketers into fodder for their opponent? England have some fine players but their impact should not have been as powerful as this. The Indians had both Alastair Cook and his team in the palm of their hand and somehow, inconceivably, contrived to let them go. Rarely, in the history of the game, has there been such a dramatic reversal of fortune and results. The overriding impression is that India have only themselves to blame.

Out of that great land comes the accusation that players are spoilt by the fame they acquire and the money they earn. These riches come relatively easily and can, perhaps for the first time in their cricket history, be made without reference to basic skills or a willingness to apply themselves to the long haul that is Test cricket. Unless you spend time in India, it is hard to understand the favour that is heaped upon gifted cricketers. It is a charmed life.

Certainly, the Indian players have not relished the battle as it has become more intense. This manifests itself in various ways. The batsmen have not put a high price on their wicket. It is surely the duty of any Test cricketer to preserve their wicket and the Indians have failed in that duty. The bowlers have shown heart and courage but neither the consistency nor discipline that are key attributes at this level of the game. The fielders look unaware of the possibilities in each ball bowled, almost as if they do not expect it to come to them, or worse, do not want it too. The slips are poorly positioned and therefore cover less ground than they should and do not instinctively go for catches because they are packed so close.

My feeling is that the Indian players have either lost, or in some cases never knew, the rhythm and pattern of Test match cricket. India has spawned an affectation for the short-form of the game which allows for a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests.

One-day cricket is much simpler. It dictates to the players, which makes it less interesting. In the longer form of the game the player has choices to make and his career and the match depend on these choices. In the limited-overs form, the player mainly follows the natural path of the game to its conclusion, which he may or may not be able to influence.

MS Dhoni is a good one-day tactician because he can orchestrate his bowlers and finesse his own batting within the confines of a 50- or 20-over period. Stretch him out and he becomes uncertain. He has tendency to lean upon excesses - too many slips for example - or falls foul of his own stubbornness - no third man for example.

He does amazing things and when they come off he is hailed as the sort of lateral thinker that Test cricket needs. Think of his wicketkeeping position to Ravindra Jadeja at Lord's or the sudden switch to a bouncer barrage that England fell for. Then he does other inexplicable things and the critics chase him.

Dhoni is a marvellous cricketer and still the natural leader of a country so dependent on the game. His measure and intelligence is an invaluable asset to those around him. His cool exterior is both a plus and a minus. The young players surely need clearer evidence of his passion for the job and for the game. At times, he seems indifferent and therefore cannot expect the emotionally charged responses from his team that turn a match. He has become oddly reluctant to defend. Or perhaps, he has not mastered defensive tactics when the pitch has pace or bounce. At Trent Bridge he set sensible fields that were able to dry up England but the pitch was slow and low in bounce, much like those in India where he has learnt the game. On the recent faster pitches, he has let England race away. The same conclusion can be levelled at India's batting, which has a greater sense of permanence on slow pitches.

After the game, the captain would not criticise his batsmen other than to say that they were learning about technique and the process would take time. But he must have watched from the other end at both Old Trafford and The Oval and thought "If I can do it why can't you?" Dhoni himself is proof that technique must not be confused with desire. He applies his unorthodox methods quite brilliantly. Test cricket takes the soul of a man. Only those prepared to commit absolutely can survive its examination.

The Indian bowlers are used to the short spells required in the short formats and to the cover provided by boundary riders. Their concentration can be switched on and off while their physical strength is only tested for a few hours at a time. The five match series has sucked the oxygen out of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and preyed on the mind of Ajinkya Rahane, two talented cricketers who are not remotely used to the demands of a tour such as this.

With tiredness comes the loss of focus and the bypassing of detail. The fielding had promise and urgency early in the tour but descended into something close to farce on the third morning at The Oval. Aching bowlers were suddenly overstepping the front line often enough to be sure that a wicket would be taken from a no-ball. The batsmen began to subside into the kind of crass errors associated with collapses and losing teams.

Picking a specific turning point is difficult. Probably there were two. The first day at the Ageas Bowl when England won the toss and batted well in beautiful conditions gave Cook and his men an unlikely lightness of being. They benefited from outrageous luck - witness the toss itself, Jadeja dropping Cook on 15 and Pankaj Singh failing to win a plumb lbw shout against Ian Bell on 0. Or was it luck? The toss is a fifty/fifty thing, so yes. The dropped catch is bad cricket. The lbw would have been overturned if India were not so stubborn about the DRS. After all that, England made 569 which proved to be a slam-dunk of a show. But, but, but, should India have allowed Moeen Ali to knock them over in the fourth innings? Saeed Ajmal maybe, but Moeen? Would a truly resilient team have saved that game?

The other major moment was the toss in Manchester on a damp morning. Both captains wanted to bat first. Both were wrong. Dhoni won the toss. An hour later India were 8 for 4 and James Anderson was rejoicing in his week of great fortune - acquitted at trial, unplayable on his home pitch.

Increasingly, the Indians have looked dispirited. There should be joy in a cricketer's heart but none has been evident. Winning may not be everything but losing with pride, perspective and character is important.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fguy on August 19, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    until test cricket has a tournament the 50 over World Cup is & will be the pinnacle of the game. bilateral series of any format doesnt have 1/10th of the pressure that WC's have. in a bilateral series you lose a moment or even a game more often than not you can come back; in Wc's there is no comebacks after the first round, one mistake & you're gone. how difficult & TESTING it is is proven by the fact that SA who always have a very strong side have never won a knockout match ever. Englnd - the pioneers of every format - have never won a title. if limited overs cricket was so easy/simple/kids play/hit n giggle then why is that the case?? the 80 odd that MSD made in WC final would have been his greatest examination & TEST that he may have faced as a cricketer. so for now supreme form of the game is ODI bcoz that leads to the greatest prize in cricket - the World Cup.

  • fguy on August 19, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    dont buy this supremacy of test cricket talk. why is leaving the ball a superior skill than scoring at 10 an over for say 5 overs? ask say a cook to do the latter & he wouldnt be able to do it however good form he is in even if his life depended on it. both are different skill sets but none have superiority over the other.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on August 18, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    @testcric we Indians liberated from conservative thinking like winning test cricket is everything, conservative people like you are unwilling to accept change! clearly from your comments you are damn jealous about IPL. we love IPL, CLT t20, odi , t20. winning test match is bonus. if you don't like IPL, just leave don't even talk about that. eng or aus free to play as many as test they want atleast 20 per year and at least 10 between them.

  • kahvas on August 18, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    Many experts says this Indian team is a better ODI team. However, I do not remember the last time India won an ODI overseas. Anyways, lil bit of bounce and/or swing, and Indians will fold in double digits, be it test odi or t20's. In order to clear this mess, the president or someone way up has to call the shots and must in the interest of India and not MS Dhoni or his buddies.

  • whirlaway on August 18, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    Keep in mind that India has not won a single ODI match on their last two overseas tours. So, fans should not expect India to do any better in the ODIs either.

  • sonofstan on August 18, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    Test match cricket has everything in abundance - the ultimate cricketing challenge. Wickets ( 8 for 4 anyone ), fast runs ( 100 in an hour on Sunday ), application ( all of those last wicket stands ), highs and lows ( Lords and the Oval...) it tests all of a cricketer's skills ODIs and T20 do not. IPL is as cricket for Americans with their short attention spans.

  • IPL_is_Thrash on August 18, 2014, 13:29 GMT

    No uncertainty. No Barrier. Its clear Team IPL should not play any more Test Cricket. A separate Team India should be evolved to play Test Cricket with vigour, respect, judicious, humility, dexterity...

    This Team IPL which is always aimed at losing Test Series should be disbanded from playing Test Cricket and dispatch it to play that funny IPL

  • baghels.a on August 18, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Continuing from my last post : We Indian fans at least majority of us love our shorter formats but we want to see our team excelling at test level...same is the case for the Indian players, they all learn from there seniors the importance of test cricket and doing well in it,lot of flak is thrown towards BCCI that they don't care much about tests but then how come they had arranged for a 5 test match series v/s England ?? or numerous other 5 or 4 test match series they have scheduled in the future...

    itsthewayuplay , now in IPL there are no more any ridiculous rules for uncapped players as everybody is put under the auction, the incentive these uncapped players get is that after getting a lucrative IPL contract they can concentrate on the next step and look to break into Indian team....I am not trying to make excuses but under these conditions with currently the best bowler in these conditions Jimmy Anderson leading the attack many other batting sides will struggle against England.

  • on August 18, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    Excellent article from the best player not to play for England. I don't think Mark is belittling ODI. He is merely pointing out that quite often ODI follows the same format. First ten overs belt the ball all over the park. Next 30 overs pick ones and twos. Last ten overs belt the ball out of the park. Reach about 300 and let the other team have a go. I am an Englishman living in Australia, and in that time have watched Australia dominate the world at all levels of the game. In all that time I couldn't have cared less if England won the world cup or not. I just wanted to England to beat Australia at test cricket.

  • glen1 on August 18, 2014, 12:57 GMT

    Test cricket requires patience, a steady base where the basic necessities are met, and a encouraging environment from the near and dear for the delayed fruits, if any. There is a major tectonic shift in India where the pace of life has changed dramatically, and it is a luxury to while away and let the world go by. What emerges from this is excellent one-day cricket.

  • fguy on August 19, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    until test cricket has a tournament the 50 over World Cup is & will be the pinnacle of the game. bilateral series of any format doesnt have 1/10th of the pressure that WC's have. in a bilateral series you lose a moment or even a game more often than not you can come back; in Wc's there is no comebacks after the first round, one mistake & you're gone. how difficult & TESTING it is is proven by the fact that SA who always have a very strong side have never won a knockout match ever. Englnd - the pioneers of every format - have never won a title. if limited overs cricket was so easy/simple/kids play/hit n giggle then why is that the case?? the 80 odd that MSD made in WC final would have been his greatest examination & TEST that he may have faced as a cricketer. so for now supreme form of the game is ODI bcoz that leads to the greatest prize in cricket - the World Cup.

  • fguy on August 19, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    dont buy this supremacy of test cricket talk. why is leaving the ball a superior skill than scoring at 10 an over for say 5 overs? ask say a cook to do the latter & he wouldnt be able to do it however good form he is in even if his life depended on it. both are different skill sets but none have superiority over the other.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on August 18, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    @testcric we Indians liberated from conservative thinking like winning test cricket is everything, conservative people like you are unwilling to accept change! clearly from your comments you are damn jealous about IPL. we love IPL, CLT t20, odi , t20. winning test match is bonus. if you don't like IPL, just leave don't even talk about that. eng or aus free to play as many as test they want atleast 20 per year and at least 10 between them.

  • kahvas on August 18, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    Many experts says this Indian team is a better ODI team. However, I do not remember the last time India won an ODI overseas. Anyways, lil bit of bounce and/or swing, and Indians will fold in double digits, be it test odi or t20's. In order to clear this mess, the president or someone way up has to call the shots and must in the interest of India and not MS Dhoni or his buddies.

  • whirlaway on August 18, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    Keep in mind that India has not won a single ODI match on their last two overseas tours. So, fans should not expect India to do any better in the ODIs either.

  • sonofstan on August 18, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    Test match cricket has everything in abundance - the ultimate cricketing challenge. Wickets ( 8 for 4 anyone ), fast runs ( 100 in an hour on Sunday ), application ( all of those last wicket stands ), highs and lows ( Lords and the Oval...) it tests all of a cricketer's skills ODIs and T20 do not. IPL is as cricket for Americans with their short attention spans.

  • IPL_is_Thrash on August 18, 2014, 13:29 GMT

    No uncertainty. No Barrier. Its clear Team IPL should not play any more Test Cricket. A separate Team India should be evolved to play Test Cricket with vigour, respect, judicious, humility, dexterity...

    This Team IPL which is always aimed at losing Test Series should be disbanded from playing Test Cricket and dispatch it to play that funny IPL

  • baghels.a on August 18, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Continuing from my last post : We Indian fans at least majority of us love our shorter formats but we want to see our team excelling at test level...same is the case for the Indian players, they all learn from there seniors the importance of test cricket and doing well in it,lot of flak is thrown towards BCCI that they don't care much about tests but then how come they had arranged for a 5 test match series v/s England ?? or numerous other 5 or 4 test match series they have scheduled in the future...

    itsthewayuplay , now in IPL there are no more any ridiculous rules for uncapped players as everybody is put under the auction, the incentive these uncapped players get is that after getting a lucrative IPL contract they can concentrate on the next step and look to break into Indian team....I am not trying to make excuses but under these conditions with currently the best bowler in these conditions Jimmy Anderson leading the attack many other batting sides will struggle against England.

  • on August 18, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    Excellent article from the best player not to play for England. I don't think Mark is belittling ODI. He is merely pointing out that quite often ODI follows the same format. First ten overs belt the ball all over the park. Next 30 overs pick ones and twos. Last ten overs belt the ball out of the park. Reach about 300 and let the other team have a go. I am an Englishman living in Australia, and in that time have watched Australia dominate the world at all levels of the game. In all that time I couldn't have cared less if England won the world cup or not. I just wanted to England to beat Australia at test cricket.

  • glen1 on August 18, 2014, 12:57 GMT

    Test cricket requires patience, a steady base where the basic necessities are met, and a encouraging environment from the near and dear for the delayed fruits, if any. There is a major tectonic shift in India where the pace of life has changed dramatically, and it is a luxury to while away and let the world go by. What emerges from this is excellent one-day cricket.

  • yohandf on August 18, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Indian fans , Don t you think that lack of DRS affected India . Bell got plumb LBW not given in 3rd Test who eventually got 149 . Pujara given LBW a shocker decision in 4th . I think time is right for india to agree with DRS . Game will be more fair and balance .

  • Vilander on August 18, 2014, 12:32 GMT

    A bilateral series in home conditions is in home conditions against one opposition, it is not greater than a world cup/World ICC event played in alien conditions. India is not as bad as it is made out here.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on August 18, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    Excellent article. "Test cricket takes the soul of a man. Only those prepared to commit absolutely can survive its examination". Indeed.

    Other recent examples of commitment being the difference between winning and losing include Sri Lanka's away wins in the same part of the world and the latest 5-0 Ashes win to Aus. Some of Dhoni's fighting innings replicated by the other batsmen over five tests is what is required i.e sustained commitment in difficult circumstances.

    It ain't called Test cricket for nothing.

  • itsthewayuplay on August 18, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    The bottom line is that the Indian players don't have the stomach for a fight because they are overpaid and over-rated and the IPL just makes a bad situation worse particularly the ridiculous rules for uncappeed players. What incentive do these players have if their not salaries are guaranteed from the BCCI and IPL and then they have lucrative sponsorship contract deals. If according to Mark Nicholas the Indian players have a set of of skills that are suited to ODIs and England prioritise test cricket then by definition India should win the ODI series comfortably and succeesfully defend the WC next year in Australia - let's see. The author is being generous not to mention diplomatic but harsh reality is that the Indian players used to have a set of skills that were successful in certain conditions but England's test series win in India in 2012 showed that don't have the skills for any conditions. Indian test cricket has been at rock bottom since 2011 and show no signs of improvement.

  • Vilander on August 18, 2014, 11:35 GMT

    A bit of unnecessary alarm going on here, Eng have lost 0-5 multiple times, so have Aus , Ind have lost 0-4 many times. This test series turned because of 3rd test, in which Eng benefited by lack of DRS. This Indian team will get better as they play more, and select better suited players. For instance U Yadav and Bumrah will play in Aus along with Aaron/Ishant/Bhuv. Eng obviously better them in English conditions, but have to see what happens now in Aus for India.

  • on August 18, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    'One-day cricket is much simpler. It dictates to the players, which makes it less interesting. In the longer form of the game the player has choices to make and his career and the match depend on these choices. In the limited-overs form, the player mainly follows the natural path of the game to its conclusion, which he may or may not be able to influence.' @ Mark Nicholas, i don't understand what the above paragraph means. Are you saying that one day cricket has no challenges and that players merely go through the motions and that careers are never at stake in ODIs? I, like you, believe that Tests are the ultimate form of cricket. But, when saying such a thing, please do not underestimate or belittle the other forms of the game. They too have a place of respect and players play them with passion.

  • Siddiee on August 18, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    Its irrelevant how many viewers prefer T20 / ODI over test cricket. Its the country that is represented, players like spectators are free to chose the format that suits them but such a spineless show is inexplicable. The same holds true for self termed purists too who don't blink before pulling down the shorter formats. Never heard Windies & Aussies prefer certain format over another and yet they were good at both.

  • yohandf on August 18, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster & legfinedeep - I can remind English idiom of " Fox and the grapes" its indian version is " Team India and Test cricket

  • its.rachit on August 18, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    I agree that India played well but to say that ODI is inferior to TESTS is ridiculous ... both are cricket matches played between international teams ... smells bad when an English man ridicules ODI as timepass ...when they have underachieved in it for 40 years now ... 22 years since they reached the WC semi final ...so does that mean they shud stop playing test cricket to improve in ODI or they shud stop playing ODIs cos they are so pathetic .... P.S. this takes nothing away from India's shameless/spineless performance in the series ... Kohli/Pujara/Dhawan/Jadeja/Shami/Aaron just do not look world class outside India in tests ...

  • ThinkingCricket on August 18, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    @JeremyStone-

    More likely,we are tired of being patronized and told what our preferences ought to be. We are tired of being told that leaving a ball alone is tougher than hitting it into the stands; that having infinite time is more of a challenge than facing a clock and most of all that however numerous we are, small old-boys networks in England and their outdated preferences should dictate that the most unpopular, drab and strategically limited format continues to be called 'the ultimate format'.

  • baghels.a on August 18, 2014, 10:51 GMT

    Mark Nicholas you make fair points which are obvious enough for a discerning reader and you have summed up the course of this series fairly well but however i disagree with the assumption you and some others have that test cricket is superior and shorter formats rubbish, lets me play the devils advocate and say that Dhoni is a terrific ODI and T-20 cricketer and has multiple achievements in those formats in his CV, so why winning two World Cups and CT in Eng should be considered a lesser achievement than any Test win ?? Before India won the 50 over WC in 1983 cricket was not that popular in India and was considered a elitist sport which was mostly played in metro cities like Mumbai,Chennai,Bengaluru,Delhi, just like Test cricket shapes and defines the cricketing fabric of Australia ,50 over and T-20 defines India especially for Indians under the age of40....but that does not mean that Indian cricketers and us Indian fans dislike or don't want to excel at test cricket.contd

  • deepvanarasi on August 18, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    Excellent analysis Mark. India never showed the emotional drive that is sometimes required to give the team a push and can make all the difference. Dhoni is mostly responsible for this, he shows no emotion. I want to hear what the pep talk is before the team takes field. The bowlers were directionless most of the times which allowed English batsmen time to settle. Most of the times Indians seemed resigned to their fate. Having said this, I still believe Dhoni is the only man that can lead India in Tests as no one else is ready as yet. He knows to dig deep to know what he is doing wrong and what better he can do. Maybe he can start by showing a liitle more emotions, back his bowlers more and condition the players mentally to face the rigors of test cricket.

  • on August 18, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    Like the fox in Aesop, which had never wanted the grapes that it couldn't reach, these comments about the superiority of one-day formats over Test cricket have the scent of sour grapes about them. But it is clear that the people who used to feel so passionately about Test cricket that they would burn losing captains in effigy are now a small and ageing part of India. Since roughly half the population is under 24, and they are the target demographic for most commercial enterprises, it is perhaps not surprising that short formats are dominant. It doesn't however, invalidate the status of Test cricket as the competitive format in which skills and character are put most fully under the microscope. Possibly the youth of India will come to see this, as they masture. Possibly not.

  • eddiehemmingswobble on August 18, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    There can be no doubt there is a clear divide between England, Australia, South Africa and perhaps New Zealand over the sub continent + West Indies. The respective people in those countries have clearly made up there mind as to what type of cricket they wish to see. I can say that as an Englishman Ashes cricket is the most enthralling cricket of all. It truly tests each payer in every aspect of the game. I don't think twenty/20 or ODI does that because the mental and physical demands are not the same. The greatest cricketers all come from a test background even in the ODI era. Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Shane Warne, Richard Hadlee, Wasim Akram, Ian Botham etc. That won't change any time soon

  • here2rock on August 18, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    @ eddiehemmingswobble, there will be a lot less interest in test cricket if India was not playing test cricket. The last two Ashes series have not been great, England winning at home and Australia smashing them down under. Most teams play better at home and struggle away, England is no exception. Their seamers are spoilt by soft grassy pitches in England and generally struggle in Australia and South Africa on harder true surfaces. They had very helpful conditions in every test match against India. Broad and Anderson had no impact in Australia.

  • legfinedeep on August 18, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - well done, your comments embody perfectly why Indian cricket finds itself in the position it is today. Thank you for being frank in admitting that Test cricket is meaningless and ODIs/T20s is the jewel of cricket. Here us purists were laboring under the delusion that it was the other way around.

  • legfinedeep on August 18, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    Winning may not be everything but losing with pride, perspective and character is important. >>> Excellent summation.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on August 18, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    never accept the term "test cricket is true cricket, technique temperament quality blah blah blah" bcz in test matches you can leave good balls forever. no need to play bouncers, no need to touch touch balls outside off, you can leave leave leave untillable the end. no run rate pressure, no time limit etc. is this good context between bat and ball? no! in odi batsman are forced to play good balls, his weakness exposed within few overs , variety of shots and techniques needed to keep with run rate. India-oz 7 odi series produced earth shattering rating. very simple, majority Indians don't love or like test cricket.

  • bingohaley on August 18, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    Excellent analysis! And very well articulated.

  • Farce-Follower on August 18, 2014, 8:41 GMT

    The Indians are rarely held accountable. Just this morning, we have had respected ex-players and commentators tell us that Pujara and Kohli must be persisted with. Stuff happens, I believe. When such a cushion of security is available, you have lazy shots and careless approach.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on August 18, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    5 test match series is complete nonsense as like 7 odi series. 3 test series against any team at home or away with result producing pitch is enoigh and good, bcz already test cricket losing fans in sub continent, this kind of long series will not help boring test cricket.

  • hghghghg on August 18, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    mark is absolutely right our test team is filled with players who can only show their mettle in odis this is an odi team tht dhoni has buit im sorry but dhoni clearly doent hv it in him to lead any test side test cricket is going completely downhill in india.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on August 18, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    at least 3/⁴ th of Indian fans do not care about test cricket. so definitely it will not hurt as much as few think. Indians loves to watch shorter formats as like eng fans loves test matches. if India wins upcoming odi series everything will be fine.

  • eddiehemmingswobble on August 18, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    @here2rock. As long as there is Ashes cricket. Test cricket will survive without India given that they were never really competitive until the 1970's anyway, and by that stage test cricket had been around or nearly a hundred years. It is, and will always be the highest from of the game regardless of money. If India want to chase the money that's up to them.

  • gmsjgmsj on August 18, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    These are truths staring at us from 2011: 1. A rare overseas victory (like at Lords 2014) is a fluke. The game was like an ODI (with draw option) and Dhoni just had to take wickets upto the point where England would settle for a draw or be reckless enough to storm to victory. England chose the wrong option when all that was needed were singles and twos.

    2. India never recognised that their test team of 2011 would soon fade and needed good replacements. Maybe you have one in Pujara but he is still `kitten-class' abroad. Lets not talk about Kohli the limited overs specialist! More importantly, where are the all rounders? No Kapils, no Binnys, not even Madan Lals? When did India start building test teams like Allan Border?

    3. The runs (and in effect the progress) made in the first two matches were from the lower order. Unfortunately, the top order is ill equipped to last out even one session at test level leave alone batting for pride like Bhuvaneshwar. Chase out the top 5.

  • here2rock on August 18, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    Does India really need test cricket or test cricket needs India to survive? I think it is the latter.

  • here2rock on August 18, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    In the end it is the results which matter not how cool you are, that is the reason Dhoni must not stay as captain.

  • RAVI1962 on August 18, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    Good article. Mark is right. India needs a rebuilding for future of test cricket. Things will have to start all over again. Until then let us allow Dhoni enjoy the successes and transformations he has brought into the T 20 and one day format of India's cricket.

  • Biggus on August 18, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Not fit enough. Look at the picture of Dhoni, he has a double chin for God's sake! When other sides like England and Australia will leave no stone unturned in the search for top performance to assume you can go into a five test series carrying a few extra kilos and not get found out is unacceptable for a professional sportsman, reputedly the most highly paid cricketer on the planet. Laziness has always been the curse of Indian cricket and the reason they're usually woeful fielders. Sometimes it seems to improve but then it's back to the usual sluggish body language and lack of intent again.

  • Assertive-Indian on August 18, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    The funny thing this time around is that there is no outrage in India at this result. Perhaps people knew it was in the coming after Old Trafford, so they were mentally prepared. Or perhaps because this time around India won a test match for a change, as against in 2011. Or perhaps Indians are least bothered about test cricket at this point in time....

  • Assertive-Indian on August 18, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    It is obvious that Dhoni really doesn't care about test cricket, even though in this series he was the last batsman standing in most of the cases. Therefore, he should resign from the test captaincy, and, if interested, play only as a wicket keeper batsman. He is already the most defeated Indian test captain as far as matches played abroad are concerned. If he loses 3 more test matches abroad (likely to happen in upcoming tour of Oz), he will become the most defeated test captain (abroad matches) in the history of the game. Why does he want that dubious distinction? A captain is as good as the team he gets. And if the best team in the nation is not good enough, then it is high time India stopped playing test cricket and concentrated their energies on ODIs/T20s which are the most popular formats in India, in any case.

  • rohan024 on August 18, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    Times are changing, people outside India don't realise that. Not many Indians care for the Indian cricket team anymore. 10 years back, defeats used to be followed by protests, today not many give a damn about Indian test cricket team. It goes without saying that they are probably better than only BD, but importantly its only going to get downhill from here. Test cricktet in India is dead, and sooner or later India ll stop playing test cricket.

  • PaddynairBlr on August 18, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    A very solid sensible article.India are not tuned to the requirements of Test cricket-certainly not a five test series.This series is a real wake up call for India-do they wat to essentially drop this format and focus on the shorter versions ? If so,there should be a concerted,strategic plan for doing so.Everything is geared towards "short term revenue" and making money.There can be such a thing as "too much of a good thing".Or maybe ,the test and one day teams would need to be separated.

    It has been evident for long,that Dhoni lacks the tactical acumen to handle the team in Test matches-Particularly overseas test matches ,when the going gets touch.The time has now come to give this overworked cricketer a rest from this....

  • rohan024 on August 18, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    Times are changing, people outside India don't realise that. Not many Indians care for the Indian cricket team anymore. 10 years back, defeats used to be followed by protests, today not many give a damn about Indian test cricket team. It goes without saying that they are probably better than only BD, but importantly its only going to get downhill from here. Test cricktet in India is dead, and sooner or later India ll stop playing test cricket.

  • on August 18, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    India is reaping the fruit of the IPL!!!!

  • Clyde on August 18, 2014, 4:08 GMT

    I don't think either team was particularly interested, the greater attractions being, on the one hand, sledging and, on the other, yes, money. As has elsewhere been pointed out, there is no sledging coach and no coach to determine whether a player has become avaricious.

  • mayank_mickey16 on August 18, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    It's called Test Cricket for a reason. Indian Players should come out better with this emotionally grinding tour hopefully. Being a cricket purists, I would like the Indian team to do well in overseas tests , but thinking pragmatically, It would take a 2-3 year cycle to galvanize domestic circuit and get the test team at par with best in the world.

  • on August 18, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    Sack dhoni and the team which wins ranji trophy should play test cricket.we dont media created stars representing the country, when players scoring centuries in ranji never get. a chance. Dhoni and srinivasan have ruined test cricket.dhoni has made enough money and he looks tired please give desrving players a chance. Time up dhoni go and play ipl and odi , you have brought shame to india. You have no pride in wearing indian colour in test cricket.

  • Humdingers on August 18, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    All will be revealed in the ODI series. I'm predicting more green pitches and more rabbit-in-headlights moments for the Indian bats. Without Broad and potentially a rested Anderson, no 5-0 to Eng, but a defn series win. But more than MS, why are we not taking aim at Fletcher? Look at what John Wright and later Kirsten did for the team. What is Fletcher doing?

  • Sexysteven on August 18, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    It is so obvious India don't care about test cricket but the fact they wanted five tests that's a dumb move if they don't care about test cricket India have basically made England look like rocket scientist if India didn't like the Anderson jadeja confrontation get ready for more of that in Aussie they are known for that crap now they know India can't handle that the Aussies are going come hard and get very nasty with the abuse and sledging so be prepared for a nastier series down under in Aussie India that's guaranteed

  • jaguar7777 on August 18, 2014, 3:21 GMT

    india's performance in the just concluded 5 test match series has been pathetic to say the least.according to me the only solution for our batting to compete is to choose a test team which only play's test match cricket ,period.

  • India_Keep_Roaring on August 18, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    Golden Lines for each one of the players who are representing 1.2 billion nation's hope. Winning may not be everything but losing with pride, perspective and character is important.

  • on August 17, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    It is not always the captain's fault. That is Ian Chappell's straw-man. Three weeks ago, he said Cook is a terrible captain, now Ian is silent. The losing captain never looks good qua captain. Bar his own 85, not one player crossed 30 in two innings--how is that Dhoni's fault? Day 3 was not unplayable. India had their best attack for the series and England still made around 400. More than ODIs, which require a level of pacing, it's IPL and the "throw your bat around" 20-20 festivities that is turning bowlers into defensive part-timers and batsmen into tailender king-hitters--a few flourishes before it inevitably ends.

  • baskar_guha on August 17, 2014, 22:24 GMT

    To be fair, the last four tests were in very English conditions where one expects England to be hard to beat. With India being a young inexperienced team in these conditions, it is not surprising that were outmatched by a mile despite the unlikely Lord's win. However, India is not that bad and England is not that good. I just don't buy the theory that ODIs and T20s are affecting the Indian players -- some maybe but not Pujara, not Rahane, not Vijay and not Bhuvi. They are just in a bad losing streak in alien settings which will take a definite change of scenery and some change in personnel to fix. India's next test to see if they have learnt anything is when they go to Australia, usually a much sterner test than England. As for this England side, their true test is when they travel to distant lands, not at home. Thankfully for them, they wont do that for at least a year not counting their series against the weak West Indians.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 17, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    Mr.Nicholas, India does not care about test cricket. Contrary to what a minority of Indians think, the majority embrace T20 and ODI cricket. I don't think that's a bad thing. We have won major tournaments and championships to prove it. Our youngsters play an aggressive brand and mode of cricket. Our fans love that more than this whole 5 day stuff. Isn't that what you English do as well ? I mean, look at you ridiculing limited overs cricket. Has England won a single world cup in its history ? Remember that the first three world cups were held in England too. So you had all the conditions in your favour. But you lacked the skills necessary for that format. I strongly suggest the BCCI look to concentrate on limited overs cricket in the FTP. If we are to become a world class test side, then we will have to overhaul Indian cricket totally. I don't think that's going to happen. Indians rather win a world cup than beating England in a meaningless bilateral series. Cricinfo please publish.

  • glen1 on August 17, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    So be it! These players brought their skills into cricket to make a good living and play best what is liked by the crowds. The crowds line one-day and T20 cricket and hence the players. Tired as they are now, they will probably lose the one-day series against England, but they have extraordinary talents for shorter formats. BCCI should expose them to two tests only. Test cricket, while intense and interesting, is a big drain on productivity and is on decline; it will die faster with India not playing well anymore. Enough analysis, live with reality.

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  • glen1 on August 17, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    So be it! These players brought their skills into cricket to make a good living and play best what is liked by the crowds. The crowds line one-day and T20 cricket and hence the players. Tired as they are now, they will probably lose the one-day series against England, but they have extraordinary talents for shorter formats. BCCI should expose them to two tests only. Test cricket, while intense and interesting, is a big drain on productivity and is on decline; it will die faster with India not playing well anymore. Enough analysis, live with reality.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 17, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    Mr.Nicholas, India does not care about test cricket. Contrary to what a minority of Indians think, the majority embrace T20 and ODI cricket. I don't think that's a bad thing. We have won major tournaments and championships to prove it. Our youngsters play an aggressive brand and mode of cricket. Our fans love that more than this whole 5 day stuff. Isn't that what you English do as well ? I mean, look at you ridiculing limited overs cricket. Has England won a single world cup in its history ? Remember that the first three world cups were held in England too. So you had all the conditions in your favour. But you lacked the skills necessary for that format. I strongly suggest the BCCI look to concentrate on limited overs cricket in the FTP. If we are to become a world class test side, then we will have to overhaul Indian cricket totally. I don't think that's going to happen. Indians rather win a world cup than beating England in a meaningless bilateral series. Cricinfo please publish.

  • baskar_guha on August 17, 2014, 22:24 GMT

    To be fair, the last four tests were in very English conditions where one expects England to be hard to beat. With India being a young inexperienced team in these conditions, it is not surprising that were outmatched by a mile despite the unlikely Lord's win. However, India is not that bad and England is not that good. I just don't buy the theory that ODIs and T20s are affecting the Indian players -- some maybe but not Pujara, not Rahane, not Vijay and not Bhuvi. They are just in a bad losing streak in alien settings which will take a definite change of scenery and some change in personnel to fix. India's next test to see if they have learnt anything is when they go to Australia, usually a much sterner test than England. As for this England side, their true test is when they travel to distant lands, not at home. Thankfully for them, they wont do that for at least a year not counting their series against the weak West Indians.

  • on August 17, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    It is not always the captain's fault. That is Ian Chappell's straw-man. Three weeks ago, he said Cook is a terrible captain, now Ian is silent. The losing captain never looks good qua captain. Bar his own 85, not one player crossed 30 in two innings--how is that Dhoni's fault? Day 3 was not unplayable. India had their best attack for the series and England still made around 400. More than ODIs, which require a level of pacing, it's IPL and the "throw your bat around" 20-20 festivities that is turning bowlers into defensive part-timers and batsmen into tailender king-hitters--a few flourishes before it inevitably ends.

  • India_Keep_Roaring on August 18, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    Golden Lines for each one of the players who are representing 1.2 billion nation's hope. Winning may not be everything but losing with pride, perspective and character is important.

  • jaguar7777 on August 18, 2014, 3:21 GMT

    india's performance in the just concluded 5 test match series has been pathetic to say the least.according to me the only solution for our batting to compete is to choose a test team which only play's test match cricket ,period.

  • Sexysteven on August 18, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    It is so obvious India don't care about test cricket but the fact they wanted five tests that's a dumb move if they don't care about test cricket India have basically made England look like rocket scientist if India didn't like the Anderson jadeja confrontation get ready for more of that in Aussie they are known for that crap now they know India can't handle that the Aussies are going come hard and get very nasty with the abuse and sledging so be prepared for a nastier series down under in Aussie India that's guaranteed

  • Humdingers on August 18, 2014, 3:47 GMT

    All will be revealed in the ODI series. I'm predicting more green pitches and more rabbit-in-headlights moments for the Indian bats. Without Broad and potentially a rested Anderson, no 5-0 to Eng, but a defn series win. But more than MS, why are we not taking aim at Fletcher? Look at what John Wright and later Kirsten did for the team. What is Fletcher doing?

  • on August 18, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    Sack dhoni and the team which wins ranji trophy should play test cricket.we dont media created stars representing the country, when players scoring centuries in ranji never get. a chance. Dhoni and srinivasan have ruined test cricket.dhoni has made enough money and he looks tired please give desrving players a chance. Time up dhoni go and play ipl and odi , you have brought shame to india. You have no pride in wearing indian colour in test cricket.

  • mayank_mickey16 on August 18, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    It's called Test Cricket for a reason. Indian Players should come out better with this emotionally grinding tour hopefully. Being a cricket purists, I would like the Indian team to do well in overseas tests , but thinking pragmatically, It would take a 2-3 year cycle to galvanize domestic circuit and get the test team at par with best in the world.