Holding on to the past records of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman has proved to be a costly affair for Indian cricket    Getty Images
Holding on to the past records of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman has proved to be a costly affair for Indian cricket Getty Images


By Sidhanta Patnaik


International cricket s first result of 2012 has been produced and with it the New Year has become old. Old is where the issue lies with respect to the Indian cricket team who have now lost their sixth consecutive Test match abroad. Between 1962 and 1968 India toured to West Indies, England and Australia and lost all their 12 Test matches. The feeling must have been shattering then as it is now, but in the third quarter of the 20th century it was a leisurely pastime. In the 21st century it is a full time profession. The impact, therefore, of the half a dozen defeats in the last seven months is more trembling than the dozen of defeats of those seven years. It is just short of a national disaster Action is the call of the hour.


In Sydney, the Indian batsmen were expected to find back their rhythm. They did find some of it, but by then the result of the game was just a formality. The easiest defence is to question the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) tour planning committee, but English and Australian summer indicate that the famed Indian middle-order has lived its shelf life.


Machineries depreciate annually and oiling stops being a solution after a certain time. Same can be said about the Indian batting s fulcrum which is adequately short of grease. To continue to hold on to the past records of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, expecting further glory for them is a form of abuse on the old inventories. Statistically two of the three have been among the runs in the six losses and their technique might still be the best, but the truth is that cricket is a mental game. Therefore time is ripe for fresh mindset to be allowed its place in the shop.


A methodology has been mastered by the opponents to dismiss these veterans. The necessity of Dravid s stoic approach has not been honoured from the other end and it has led to his bat and pad not being in sync as consistently as they used to be. To tie down Tendulkar for a few overs has been the prelude to most of his dismissals in the recent past. Laxman s reflexes and feet movement have become a swinging bowler s easy prey. It is that time of their career when having all three of them in the playing eleven comes at an expensive bargain. Though hard to the ears but honesty is in acknowledging that it cannot be afforded anymore.


On a day when India managed to finally cross 400 abroad after a drought extending over a year, calling for their heads is an irony of sorts. But it also reflects the timeline s state. When Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Laxman made their Test debuts in their early 20s, the Indian batting was in desperate need of an identity. The individuality was provided by these three. After a long gap, there was meaning to Indian batting beyond Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin. Hope sprung. Hard work was put in and after six years the sincerity paid dividends. It was only in the England tour of 2002, by when a few quality bowlers had been unearthed and the first generation of opening batsmen had been inducted, that the first


Test win against a quality team was attained by the “Fabulous Four”.


In 2012, the cycle has repeated and the batting finds itself in similarity with 1996. Just that the elevated profile of the team has raised the expectations. The law of natural progression calls for the presence of more youngsters in the batting line-up, who should then be backed to express freely and learn on the job. Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman may still go on to play a match-winning innings in the third Test at Perth, but that will be against the tide which will only delay the inevitable. A transition that will dry up hope, allow cynicism to establish its stronghold of 1990s yet again and throw back Indian cricket to its dark days.


On a concluding note, a word has to be written about Virender Sehwag. There is not an iota of doubt about the impact he generates as a batsman, but when playing for time becomes the idea he is more of a bane than a boon. Yes he has a certain entertaining and attacking style of play and is naturally aggressive, but that cannot be used as an excuse to chase wide deliveries and gift his wicket by someone who has more than 8,000 Test runs to his name and enjoys the captain s confidence. He should bite the bullet, apply himself, leave more deliveries, give the team a solid foundation and show intent to return the favour to the team management. In Sydney he failed. It is easier said than done, but he is being paid for it.


(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sport marketing professional, public speaker and writes for Cricketcountry. His twitter id is @sidhpat)