August 24, 2014

India disgraced themselves by not competing

MS Dhoni and the BCCI are to blame for a touring party that became too comfortable and compliant

Dhoni's captaincy, keeping and bizarre selections badly hurt India © Getty Images

Unleashing his acerbic wit, cricket correspondent Martin Johnson once observed: "There are only three things wrong with this England team - they can't bat, can't bowl and can't field." By the end of this series the same could be said of the hapless Indian team that lost 3-1 to England, with an additional dimension: they had also lost the will to compete.

There's no disgrace in losing; it's part of cricketing life. However, what is disgraceful is failing to compete to the best of your ability and continuing to make the same mistakes. That's what India have done for the bulk of their last two visits to the UK and their most recent tour of Australia.

The latest English debacle was worse than those previous capitulations, because India achieved a monumental victory at Lord's. That should have been the springboard to a spirited attempt to stretch that lead but instead it became the top step on the slippery dip to oblivion.

MS Dhoni is a serial offender in those Indian debacles. In all three cases - the first two full series and the last three Tests of the recent capitulation - his captaincy failed to inspire the team. If anything, his style of leadership contributed greatly to their demise. From the moment he went on the defensive on the first day of the third Test, India's fortunes reversed quicker than a rat in retreat. His reactive, asleep-at-the-wheel captaincy was in direct contrast to the aggressive, proactive leadership he provided at Lord's.

One of India's biggest headaches is finding a replacement for Dhoni as Test captain following the repeated batting failures of his logical successor Virat Kohli

And it wasn't only Dhoni's captaincy that hurt India. His wicketkeeping has regressed to the point where it is not only adversely affecting the bowlers but also the slip cordon. First slip is a hazardous zone because Dhoni has given up attempting to catch anything other than a straightforward gift on the batsman's off side. Not only does his inactivity serve to narrow the reach of the slip cordon, it also creates confusion in the mind of the first-slip fielder. While Dhoni's flaws don't explain the woeful technique that caused an extraordinary number of chances to be floored in the slips, it certainly accounted for a few of the hard-handed mishaps at first slip.

Then there were Dhoni's selections. I've never been a believer in the captain having a vote on selection; a say, yes, but a vote, no. In this latest series Dhoni provided ample proof why. His selection of Stuart Binny as an allrounder was ludicrous. Then, as if his sole aim had been to prove that point, his treatment of the player was baffling. Binny was rarely used as a bowler despite batting at No. 8.

To pick Ravindra Jadeja as a front-line spinner is a serious miscasting. Then Dhoni proceeded to use Jadeja as a stop-gap trundler in Southampton in what looked like an attempt to prove he wasn't a front-line spin bowler.

If that wasn't confusing enough, his statement following the fourth Test capitulation, "It's never that the result is more important than the process", was bewildering.

I have never witnessed a series decided by a team achieving the correct process 46 times to the opposition's 43. Winning is important but two losses in a five-Test series aren't a disaster as long as they are accompanied by three victories.

One of India's biggest headaches is finding a replacement for Dhoni as Test captain, following the repeated batting failures of his logical successor Virat Kohli.

The BCCI deserves to share top billing with Dhoni when blame is being apportioned. Their casual acceptance of overseas defeats and obsession with finance has led Indian touring parties to become comfortable and compliant. This is not compatible with fielding a hard-nosed, competitive team.

If India continue to bat, bowl and field poorly and fail to compete at full throttle under Dhoni's lacklustre captaincy, then another capitulation is certain to follow against a highly competitive Australian outfit.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on August 27, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    Ian is right and board is not doing well, the main thing is board is not ready to prepare lively piches which has pace and bounce. they r towards money making cricket, that is bcci thinking that people likes the batsman friendly pitches for hitting sixes and fours, they moulded the public in to cricket is a batsman's game. if they will run the board with this way no one in india like bowling.

  • John on August 26, 2014, 19:01 GMT

    @Nampally,If your point that one single factor for the momentum swing after the Lords win,was the Anderson -Jadeja spat then I'm afraid that this remark is total rubbish.In England for the last few weeks in we have been subjected in the press about the so called boorish manners of James Anderson.In my humble opinion standing up for yourself is not a problem at all, it is an adults game after all not a child's game. Dhoni and the B.C.C.I.appeared to stick up for their player and got it totally wrong,but nobody else seemed to be worried about the so called Indian perceived problem.As an Englishman I just think of what is in store for these poor Indians when they arrive on the shores of Australia and the good old friendly banter they will receive,after all if they think it was bad in England,just wait until they land in Australia.I also note in your sub-mission about the reference to Baseball,in England Baseball is a girls sport,the game is actually called Rounders.

  • Jay on August 26, 2014, 17:52 GMT

    Ian - Right, the Indian team played spineless cricket & went adrift after the first two Tests. But it's not all the captain's fault. We've seen dramatic disasters on recent overseas tours. Dhoni's adverse situation is as humiliating as Cook's after the 0-5 Ashes drubbing in Oz & Clarke's 0-4 collapse in India. Actually Cook & Clarke had it much worse: Cook & ECB faced a mutiny with Swann deserting & KP revolting; Clarke & CA encountered the "homework-gate" scandal, indiscipline & player suspensions! Coaches Flower & Arthur later quit/got axed! Yes, Captain Cool & his crew floundered, but did not sink. BCCI brought in Shastri to help right the ship. But is Dhoni a "serial offender"? That 'honour' belongs to Anderson with his incessant boorish behaviour. It's shameful to see ECB defend him: Moores calls it Anderson's 'hard' brand of cricket. Cook calls the charge a 'tactic' to sideline him. Whither honour? England & ICC disgraced themselves by not acting, Ian!!

  • Dummy4 on August 26, 2014, 17:46 GMT

    Spoilt stardom in Indian cricket, stars look more important than cricket...cricketers needs to be chosen by their ability in Tests and T20 not by their name and fame...not every player is suitable for Test match and vice versa....

  • Ashok on August 26, 2014, 16:05 GMT

    If I could point at one single factor for Momentum swinger after the Lords win, that is Anderson -Jadeja spat which totally pre-occupied Dhoni from the field activity to fighting this case. The whole Indian team management + Dhoni were totally involved in trying to WIN this case. When the verdict went against Jadeja, it was the start of the "Domino effect". My question to whole Indian team administrators is why were they so preoccupied with this issue rather than focus on the task ahead of winning the Test a Southampton? Not many Fans understand the back room tactics involved in this series changer. It is like a bench clearing brawl in the American league Baseball Game. It rallies the losing side & rattles the winning side.-was it planned or Not. It rattled India - dropped catches galore to get Cook back into form & a badly slumping England a new lease to rise like a "Pheonix from Ashes" . England played with great vigour & India became a "spineless batting"! Focus is critical to WIN,

  • Naresh on August 26, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    Yes this defeat was a disgrace. My view is that this Indian team knows their BOWLING is WEAK. This in turn affects batting to some extent and also affects the fielding. So a chain reaction was occurring. India has batted relatively well in SA and NZ on the their last essay. The Indian batsman are short in stature and hence outside that offside corridor they were playing away from their body. What was needed was the coach should have asked them to stand further towards their off-stump. England did this to counter Bhuvi.

  • Matt on August 26, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    A question for the Indian fans on here. To my mind Dhoni is probably worth retaining his place as wicket keeper batsman as despite his shortcomings as captain he has been one of the few to show real fight when the collapses were happening around him. So my question is (actually in two parts really), are there any stand out captains in the Ranjit trophy who could replace one of the batsmen in the current line up (not necessarily better batsmen but who could perhaps average say 35 in test cricket)? The second part is whether there are any better wicketkeeper batsmen in the Ranjit trophy than MS Dhoni?

  • John on August 26, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    @Deuce03,No overseas cricketer should in my opinion not be allowed as per your statement access to county cricket and thus the best training for Tests available.English qualified players should and must have the access to County Cricket at all times.It is not County Crickets job to make overseas cricketers gain a competitive edge in Test Matches.In my opinion another example of overseas players taking the place of England qualified players in a sport is the demise of the England Football Team.

  • rajendra on August 26, 2014, 5:23 GMT

    India has done very well in 50 over and 20 over cricket in recent years.You might say when it comes to big tournaments in these formats,India is the BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD! Indian cricketers have a very heavy workload,the toughest schedule in international cricket! When you add the IPL to that you see what the Indian cricketer faces. India should seriously consider having a specialist team of test cricketers preparing exclusively for test cricket but with benefits which are just as attractive as limited overs cricket. Especially when they play overseas,they should arrive in these countries early to get properly acclimatised and to have a good feel of the people and culture in that particular country. The present group of Indian cricketers have been run into the ground by the workload they face.People are saying all sorts of things about M.S.DHONI,can you imagine the pressure and workload he constantly faces! A specially prepared INDIAN TEST CRICKET TEAM CAN BEAT ANYONE,ANYWHERE,ANYTIME

  • KISH on August 26, 2014, 0:15 GMT

    Well said Ian. I can read comments here about Indian super stars not performing. I don't know why people still think India got superstars. They are all long gone. Under Dhoni's captaincy, superstars were never nurtured. As soon as Dhoni sees someone shining, he will get the axe. So, now we got to a situation where we have no superstars and therefore no one to replace Dhoni as the captain. I didn't watch the series as closely as Ian Chappell to notice the wicket keeping flaws. If his keeping is not good, then there are several candidates available (like Samson, Naman Ojha, Saha etc) as replacement. But, still, captaincy is a worry. India can't reward Kohli with the captaincy for his repeated failures. I think India should pick a captain who has the best work ethics - someone who is dead serious, train hard and work hard regardless of the pure statistics. May be Murali Vijay? I hate watching his new dour batting. But, the guy seems to be a hard worker. Build a new test team under Vijay.

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