The trouncing which India has suffered at the hands of England in this Test series not just on the field, but has also psychologically left deep scars that are hollering how Indian cricket will ameliorate.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is somewhat right when he blames the descent to the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. The situation may get even worse when the last brick in the wall — Sachin Tendulkar — falls. Any opposition will go hard against the young blokes. But the seniors’ retirement isn’t the reason behind poor show of the batsmen who have earlier shown enough at the international circuit, suggesting that the absence of the greats won’t be felt much.
The retirement of the greats doesn’t imply a subsequent effect on those who bowl. Zaheer Khan or Harbhajan Singh’s slump have nothing to do with the retirement of Dravid or Laxman. India’s most potent weapon – the spinners – also doesn’t have much to do with the absence of the great batsmen.
Dhoni’s assessment of the situation here seems to be slightly wrong. The four-match Test series against England was planned a long time ago. The team management and the cricket board had more than a year to prepare itself for ‘revenge’. Unfortunately, the outcome was even more dejecting.
India’s obliteration in the 2011 tour of England gave enough reasons for those responsible to get their act together. Several reasons were stated to justify the failure. Many thought it was a one-off thing. Few months later, the routing of a lowly West Indies unfortunately painted a wrong picture. Things were still not improving.
In the 2004 Parliamentary elections, the ruling government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conducted their election campaign with the head mast ‘India Shining’. Not sure whether India was actually shining or not, the reality was that the party was thrown out of power in the general elections, and it hasn't returned since.
Ironically, when the Indian cricket team was set to leave for Australia late 2011, there were claims that it was the best chance to beat a rebuilding Australian side in their own backyard — a campaign eerily identical to the BJP’s ‘India Shining’. MS Dhoni had acknowledged it. Kapil Dev said it was possible, and even Andrew Symonds backed India to excel.
But, what happened Down Under in the 2011-12 tour turned out to be another nightmare. The team was annihilated 4-0 by a budding Aussie side, proving that all such talks were nothing but trash.
It was a false image that India created, far away from reality and the perils that lie in future. The team has only struggled and there seems to be no end to the suffering of the fans and supporters.
Amidst all of this, what India has lacked is a true leader. The national cricket side is missing a leader, someone like Sourav Ganguly.
In the documentary film Fire in Babylon, based on the invincible West Indies cricket side of the 1970s and 80s, they mention how the then captain, ideally a leader, young Clive Lloyd, travels across the Caribbean looking for fast bowlers. The result of Lloyd’s expedition is one of the greatest chapters in cricket history.
No, one can’t expect Dhoni to travel across the country, scouting talents. The times have changed, international cricket schedule is jam-packed and moreover it’s not his job. But someone will have to take the efforts for the sake of country’s favourite sport. India will have to find a leader who creates another era of glory and success, be it a captain or an administrator. India needs a leader who can guide them towards the top of the pool – create a legacy which is hopefully even better than his predecessors.
Sadly, it gives shivers down the spine looking at the current crop of players in the Indian side, some of the biggest names who, at times, have claimed stakes at the leadership job and who, at this moment, are not fighting for the country’s pride; their fight is to survive in the national side.
(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or talk about the sport. Having played the game at club and college level, he now pursues his passion as a scribe)
First Published: December 18, 2012, 9:59 am