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Sunil Gavaskar: India are in transition, and should not be unduly criticised

Sunil Gavaskar © Getty Images
Sunil Gavaskar © Getty Images

New Delhi: Aug 11, 2014

India suffered a humiliating innings defeat against England in the fourth Test at Old Trafford to continue with their disappointing recent form overseas in the longest format, but former captain Sunil Gavaskar was not ready to criticise the young players and pleaded to the public to keep faith in them.

“The team is in transition as some of the best players in the world have retired a few years back. It is difficult for these youngsters to fill into their big shoes. We need to be a little bit patient with them. I agree that India has been struggling in Test format for some time. But look, with those some of the best players in the world, India still lost 0-4 to England and then with identical margin to Australia in 2011. So, I will not just point a finger on these current players,” he said.

England off-spinner Moeen Ali tormented the Indians at the Old Trafford with figures of four for 39 in the second innings but Gavaskar refused to buy the line that Indians were no longer the best players of spin. “Apart from the one delivery which dismissed Virat Kohli, I would not say that Moeen had bowled some extraordinary deliveries or which turned a lot. It was just that the Indians wanted to score runs off him as they were not getting boundaries from the other end from the likes of James Anderson,” he said.

“They thought they could score some easy runs from Moeen. If you are not getting runs from one end, you naturally try to get runs from the other. It happens in cricket and players may get out in doing that. That had happened to the Indians. One should not generalise things. It is one unfortunate happening that virtually all of the current Indian team members are experiencing their leanest periods,” Gavaskar told NDTV.

Gavaskar went to the extent of saying that Indian cricket team gets “unnecessary” criticism due to the fact that the country virtually controls the game due to its financial clout. “India has now become a cricket team to be picked on. There is a certain element of jealousy here. India now controls the game financially and so people want to bring down the Indian team. When India won the second Test at the Lord’s, England players were struggling to play short-pitched deliveries. England players were hit on the helmet. The same happened when Mitchell Johnson of Australia bowled in the Ashes. But nobody wrote that England players cannot play short-pitched deliveries.

“So can one conclude that Indians struggled to play spin on the basis of Moeen’s performance? I will criticise the Indian players when needed but I will not also criticise them unnecessarily. They belong to my cricketing fraternity,” added Gavaskar. The former captain also said he would not believe that a commensurate sense of hurt was not felt by the Indian players after the Old Trafford debacle.

“It is a matter of how one accepts a defeat or a win. So it is hard to find out how much they are hurt by the defeat. It is a subjective thing. But I will be surprised if the Indian team was not hurt by the defeat (at Old Trafford).” Gavaskar also advised the team management and the BCCI to make it compulsory for Indian players to feature in first class cricket if they want to play in Test matches. “The takeover here for BCCI and team management is to tell the players that if they don’t play in first class cricket they won’t play in Test cricket,” he said.

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