Only Rahul Dravid (left) and VVS Laxman have managed to show some consistency on the England tour © AFP

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

“Consistency is found in that work whose whole and detail are suitable to the occasion. It arises from circumstance, custom and nature.” — Marcus V Pollio

 

Being 0-2 down in a Test series at the end of two Test matches indicates that the Indians have failed to bring consistency into their work. As a result the “whole and detail” of their performances haven’t been suitable to the occasion and they find themselves with their backs to the wall.

 

Indians have traditionally been “slow starters” on overseas tours, but their showing on their current tour of England attracts the phrase “snail pace starters.” This applies to the batting, more than anything else. They reached a score of 300 for the first time on the tour in their fourth game (versus Northamptonshire) of the campaign. When you read such facts, you can guess that the most basic requirement for success in international cricket is missing- consistency.

 

When one looks at the Indian batting performance over the two Tests, one would realize that the only player who has shown consistency is Rahul Dravid and to some extent VVS Laxman. The others have done well in patches but have struggled for majority of the series. By consistency one doesn’t mean brilliant performances one after the other. But it indicates that a player has delivered on a reasonable note without too many failures. The performance graph of most of the players on this tour indicates that they have been very erratic as the mediocre performances have taken sheen off the good showings whenever they have come.

 

Let us first have a look at their numbers throughout the series:

 

Player

T

Runs

Avge

Highest

100s/50s

Gautam Gambhir

1

37

18.50

22

0/0

Abhinav Mukund

2

64

16.00

49

0/0

Rahul Dravid

2

262

87.33

117

2/0

Sachin Tendulkar

2

118

29.50

56

0/1

VVS Laxman

2

124

31.00

56

0/2

Suresh Raina

2

91

22.75

78

0/1

Yuvraj Singh

1

70

35.00

62

0/1

MS Dhoni

2

49

12.25

28

0/0

 

A mere glance at this table indicates that with the exception of Dravid none of the others have come close to consistency. Laxman may have got two fifties, but an average of 31 indicates that he has had poor scores in the other knocks. The second highest average after Dravid’s 87.33 is Yuvraj’s 35. But if you consider the batsmen who have played both the Test matches, then Laxman’s 31 comes second. Thus, the difference between the highest and the second highest average is a touch above 56 which just indicates that majority of the runs have come from just one source and the others haven’t contributed as much as they should have.

 

With the exception of Dravid, the other batsmen have been so erratic that none of them have been able to score over 200 runs. They may have the odd fifty, but in the other innings they have struggled to score over 20. The best example would be that of Suresh Raina. At Lord’s he scored 78 in the second innings, but his overall series tally reads just 91. This means that he has scored just 13 runs in his three other outings.

 

The point is that whenever India have batted, at max two or three batsmen have got decent scores while the others haven’t managed to make significant contributions. In the first innings at Lord’s only three batsmen managed scores over 30 (Mukund 49, Dravid 103, Tendulkar 34) and the trend repeated in their second effort (Dravid 36, Laxman 56, Raina 78). At Trent Bridge this trend continued in the first innings (Dravid 117, Laxman 54, Yuvraj 62) but in the second innings only Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh managed to score over 30.

 

The last time India were in England, none of the top order batsmen managed to score a century in the Test series. However, most of them were consistent and played crucial knocks mainly in the first innings in the second and the third Tests of that series. Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer were the openers and they did a good job against the new ball. Dravid didn’t have a very good series but the middle order comprising Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Laxman made up for it. Even Dhoni had a decent series with the bat. At Lord’s he played a match-saving knock that helped India get out of jail, and at The Oval he was at his brutal best as he smashed the bowling all over the park looking for quick runs.

 

There weren’t big scores from the India batsmen in that series but there were important contributions from everybody and there was consistency. Even when some of them didn’t get to fifties, they contributed with the 30s and the 40s which helped India build good scores. These 30s and 40s have been missing on this tour which is why they haven’t managed to cross 300 in any of the Test matches.

 

The proceedings at Northampton were better as Mukund got a hundred and Laxman contributed with 49 as India ended up with 352 (credit to Amit Mishra for scoring 61). They can take a few positives from this effort to Edgbaston, but they need to motivate themselves to deliver better in the Test matches. A green top awaits them at Birmingham. The bowlers would be licking their lips and the batsmen would be hoping to put the runs on the board as scoring on a green track would give them immense satisfaction.

 

Can we expect an encore of Headingly 2002? Probably, but for that to happen the famous trio of Dravid,Tendulkar and Laxman need to fire.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)