Home > Features >

India needs to reboot its Test team

India needs to reboot its Test team
India need to bring back some of their experienced cricketers. (From left) Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir © Getty Images

By Binu Thomas

Team India was once considered one of the best Test teams in the world. That was until recently and as recently as 2011. And then this happened –

10

20

The above stat shows India’s performance in Test matches since 2011. A look at the winners column and you know what we are talking about. India is poles apart while playing at home compared to their overseas tours. Home record – played 15, won 11 and lost two. That’s a winning percentage of over 73. While away records are abysmal to say the least. India have played 15 away games since 2011, lost 10 and won one with a winning percentage of around six. India used to be poor travelers but were never this bad!

What has changed?

1. Retirement / Dropping seniors — We boasted of one of the best and attacking opening batsmen in Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. One of the two usually used to score and score big. On loss of first wicket, we had ‘The Wall’ coming in at one down – Rahul Dravid. Then ‘God of Cricket’ – Sachin Tendulkar – used to come two down. Number five used to be the effervescent Sourav Ganguly – a shrewd captain and God of offside. If the opposition bowlers were in the form of their lives, a Very-Very-Special (VVS) player by the name Laxman entered four down. Could anyone beat that? But where are these players now? The openers are still playing, but at domestic levels. They are yet to break into the Test team after being dropped. The next four have retired. We now have a new crop of young and talented players eager to fill the legends’ boot. To be fair to the new lot, they have done very well in their own backyard. It’s the away form and the lack of playing away Tests is a worry.

2. Bowling – To be honest and brutally frank, India was never considered to be a bowling unit – at least from 1990s. We were / are / always will be considered as a batting unit with a set of bowlers who can defend totals and help the batting team as and when needed. And it’s not the bowlers who are to be blamed, it’s us. Our pitches are conducive to batting. We need runs and more runs. Asresult we produce a set of bowlers who are primarily defensive (so as to prevent runs being scored) than attacking (take wickets at the cost of runs). It works in India, but not overseas. And once in a while, our bowler decides to attack, he comes back with a sizeable tally of wickets (case in point: Ishant Sharma in New Zealand 2014).

What needs to change?

1. Bring back one / some of the experienced batsmen – Whatever be the current form of the player, one of the experienced batsmen need to be included in overseas tours. Personally, I would like Gambhir to make a comeback. Having an experienced batsmen can help the team in two ways – he will be in a better position to help the younger batsmen adjust according to the playing conditions and will act as pivot around which the team can bat and score. Sehwag won’t fit this bill. Who isn’t a fan of Sehwag’s batting? But we have enough Sehwag-type (read: attacking) players in the team already.

2. Bring back one / some of the experienced bowlers – Our spinners are exactly lighting the stage on fire overseas. But we still persist with the same crop. The reason – we don’t have enough bench strength. That’s true. We don’t have enough bench strength because we don’t provide them with opportunities to play (case in point: Amit Mishra). We need to bring back Harbhajan Singh. He was once the ‘turbanator’ remember? I see no cricketing reason why he can’t replace Ravichandran Ashwin overseas. Amit Mishra can also be given an opportunity. And develop Ashwin around them instead of throwing him in the deep pit.

3. Change the coach – When things are going wrong, the higher-ups need to make a decision of axing someone to show they mean business. You could replace the word “axing” with “sacrificing” and the idea remains the same. Duncan Fletcher, however, has had a lot of opportunities to change the losing streak. He failed. Infact, Fletcher hasn’t won a single away tour with India. The captain has failed too – but that’s for another day. The very fact that we have a ‘foreign’ coach is to help the youngsters cope better in an alien territory. One area where Fletcher was unlucky was that he took control of the team when we had peaked (after winning the ICC World Cup in 2011). The result will obviously hurt the morale of the players who also play in the One-Day Internationals. And we have a World Cup to defend, again in alien territories. Need a change and that too ASAP.

Cricketers like Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin will be the future legends of the game and they have it in them to ably replace the current legends. But they need experience and the aura of victory around them to continue the transition from top cricketers of the country to legends of the game.

(Binu Thomas is an analyst by profession and a Blogger and Sports Writer by passion. Avid Book Reader & Reviewer. He blogs at Bloggers Park. He follows Cricket, Soccer, Formula 1, Lawn Tennis. He is a lifelong fan of Rahul Dravid, Arsenal Football Club, Kimi Raikkonen and Andre Agassi. He writes about the current happenings in the game of Cricket and how it will affect all the stakeholders including the passionate followers of the game. He can be followed on twitter @Binugthomas)

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (12:30 IST)   at Bulawayo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 16, 2014  at Galle

South Africa won by 153 runs

Photos

Gallery: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord's

Videos

Alastair Cook jokes about his bowling

10 things you need to know about Zaheer Abbas

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo: Pride at stake for high-flying hosts

Mahela Jayawardene at SSC: A tale of 11 tons

Please help Graeme Pollock, cricket boards and franchises of the world

Cricket at Commonwealth Games and Olympics: Why not?

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Ishant Sharma South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014 Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan 2014

Mahela Jayawardene ton takes Sri Lanka to 305/5 on Day 1 of 2nd Test against Sri Lanka

Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma advises him not to play square of wicket

Afghanistan set target of 260 against Zimbabwe in 4th ODI at Bulawayo

India A tour of Australia 2014: Manan Vohra, Mohit Sharma give India A easy win

Mahela Jayawardene scores 11th Test ton at SSC; Sri Lanka 212/3 at tea on Day 1 against South Africa

10 things you need to know about Zaheer Abbas

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo: Pride at stake for high-flying hosts

Mahela Jayawardene at SSC: A tale of 11 tons

Please help Graeme Pollock, cricket boards and franchises of the world

Cricket at Commonwealth Games and Olympics: Why not?

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Jodha Akbar: Will Jodha lose Akbar’s child?

Apple reportedly prepping a 12-inch MacBook and a 4K Mac for October release

Vir Das feels that Jaane Kyon has been his toughest film so far!

6 benefits of increased Foreign Direct Investment limit in insurance sector

Commonwealth Games 2014: Scotland swimmer Hannah Miley sets new record

ZTE India posts sales of nearly Rs 2,813 crore in FY2013-14

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here