Romantic obsession with immortality blurring facts. The dream is over!

A familiar sight in Australia… Rahul Dravid probably summoned his last gasp of energy and wisdom to shine in England. It appears that he is unable to do that anymore. The rush is over and the tank is now empty © Getty Images

 

By Vidooshak

Australia’s bowling attack, with less than 50 Tests of combined experience, have looted the vast Indian batting riches in broad daylight at Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Every ounce of experience, wisdom and skill that India’s one-time intimidating batting line-up put up against these bowlers seem to come down to a tame, unhappy lbw. Sachin Tendulkar didn’t agree, but we agreed and perhaps the whole of India mutely agreed that even if he were to be given a reprieve, the elusive 100th century was not going to be found at Perth.

 

Most telling was Nari Contractor’s comment that Tendulkar got out lbw to a routine in-swinger, Rahul Dravid bowled by a straight, fast ball while VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag were unable to line their bat up against a ball moving towards the slips. In their heyday, these veterans would have blunted such a line of attack and out-persevered the bowlers to fatigue and despair. 

Australia have discovered a new formula to blunt Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar. This can’t be anything but the ravages of age and injury. They might still score centuries against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand at home. But the dream is over against disciplined fast bowling on helpful or unhelpful pitches.

 

Most recently, the formula came good in Durban. They would have batted two days routinely and provided their very normal bowling attack, enough runs to pressure the opposition into making mistakes. India won many Tests overseas with that formula and even won a couple of series in England that way.

 

But it’s not working anymore. The bowling seems to have some more bite to it than usual, but the batting simply doesn’t exist. Seniors who would normally be around to guide the young Sehwag or Suresh Raina score a debut century, are now hiding behind fans’ defense that others are not scoring enough runs to cover their failures. We supported the seniors when Harbhajan Singh saved India the blushes in the first Test against Australia in Bangalore a couple of summers ago. The rot, perhaps, had begun to set in then, but our romantic obsession with immortality blurred the facts.

 

The selectors were pragmatic enough to blood Cheteshwar Pujara. Unfortunately, he got injured at the wrong time. It’s probably worth giving credit to the selectors that had he been playing all this while, we may have one senior less in this team. So, the seniors are perhaps not to blame that they are still playing. But should they force the hand of the selectors by voluntarily announcing their retirement, given that at least two of them have not been pulling their weight in the team by batting enough time and runs?

 

My colleague feels that the poor performance is a direct result of the disrespect shown by Tendulkar to the Test format. I tend to agree that he disrespected the format by choosing to play the Indian Premier League (IPL) and not setting himself up for the contest against England by going to the West Indies. But Dravid and Laxman didn’t follow that route. Yet they have been laid low. Dravid probably summoned his last gasp of energy and wisdom to shine in England. It appears that he is unable to do that anymore. The rush is over and the tank is now empty. Unfortunately for Laxman, his lack of modern levels of fitness has probably caught up with him. The invaluable fifties and face-saving runs that he routinely scored are not coming anymore.

 

We had a decade of the best that Indian cricket has ever been. No stretch of time in Indian cricket can come close to the levels of performance that we saw from 2001 to 2011. We might never see it again in the future. Maybe this truth is evident to everyone and therefore they want it last for a little while longer. The time to let go is close. Gundappa Viswanath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath didn’t know when it was time for them to leave the stage with their heads held high. They all faced the ignominy of being dropped. I hope Laxman and Dravid don’t lose their dignity by being dropped, instead of calling time themselves. It’s clear that Tendulkar will leave when he sees fit. We hope that he chooses it carefully, so that his legacy is not smeared by accusations of selfishness.

 

(Vidooshak is a blogger @ Opinions on Cricket . He was drawn into cricket by Golandaaz as a schoolboy. His bluster overshadows his cricketing ability. He played as a wicket-keeper in a college team but was promptly dropped. The college selection committee had slightly higher standards than Pakistani selectors. He did reasonably well in tennis ball cricket until he was benched for a final game by the team that he captained. To say some of it was due to his opinions would be an understatement of sorts. Regardless, Vidooshak finds time to opinionate relentlessly and lives a vicarious life by watching cricket teams make obvious mistakes. Good news for Vidooshak is that someone always loses a cricket game, someone always gets belted and someone always flops. Vidooshak always looks for an alternative explanation and rarely agrees with mainstream consensus. Needless to say he has no friends, only ‘tolerators’! While not throwing his weight around, Vidooshak does not run marathons or draw pictures, but reads voraciously on all topics, volunteers at local failing schools, is an avid but average golfer and runs an Indian association in mid-west America)