Harsha Sir, very articulate and thought-provoking article as always, but with all due respect we have easily and conveniently forgotten what happened in New Zealand few months back, where we were hammered 2-0 by a plucky outfit. Same theme, similar outcome. Pace and bounce proving to be our nemesis. I don’t think we would ever learn. My naive knowledge about the game might not deem it logical but I am still dumbfounded to understand how slow and sluggish tracks in the UAE are going to help us prepare for Australia. Mind you Australia with six packs (Warner, Smith and Labuschagne) not with an underbelly. I don’t see any article or any opinion about how to revive our domestic cricket in these covid times. Aren’t they cricketers. Just because they play red-ball cricket, does that mean we ignore and treat them like a pariah. India’s best test batsman, Mr. Pujara who is a Ranji Trophy champion doesn’t find a place in any of the teams. BCCI cannot accommodate him in any franchise. If rumour mills are to be true, Rahane, India’s second test specialist is going to be warming the bench for DD. So, essentially both of them are going to be without any match practice for Australia. What terrific planning.
What is the vision for Test Cricket in India, how are we planning to promote that? I don’t see any thought process behind it. In UK as well as in Australia, just before the start of every high-profile series they show documentaries about the past battles. Be it Botham’s and Willis heroics in 1970’s to turn the Ashes on its head, Flintoff’s powerpack performance in 2005. In fact that has inspired generations to take up the sport in England.
I understand economics plays a pivotal role. IPL provides employment to many.Point taken. Can it not run parallely with International cricket. Big Bash does. Natwest Blast does. What is stopping the IPL. Can it not be held every 2 years? Where does the priority lie? Maintaining the tradition and heritage of the game or playing some Mickey mouse cricket. As a fan I want to see those clips where Vengsarkar scored those three centuries at Lord’s, those innings where Vishwanath defied logic to keep the hostile West Indies at bay, Dilip Sardesai’s heroics in 1971, Bedi, Prasanna and Chandra’s wizardry to propel India to many historic wins. Jimmy Amarnath’s stunning comeback against Pakistan. Gavaskar’s gutsy knocks as an opener tackling the guile of Th ommo and Lillee.These are our roots. We call ourselves as a cricketing nation and we are not able to inspire the youth to take up red ball cricket. We could have easily taken a cue from ECB and created a bio-secure environment in Dharamsala, HP where the covid cases are relatively less and organized a 3 match Test Series against South Africa. This would have kept us in good stead against Australia as the pitches would have been similar. Parallely, IPL would have gone on. Do we want Devdutt Padikal, Shubman Gill, Yashaswi Jaiswal to represent India and be inducted in the ICC Hall of fame or are we happy with them succeeding in one or two seasons of IPL and filling their coffers playing mediocre cricket.
This is the only sport where the format has been tinkered, rules are bend to appease the consumers who I am afraid are not shown the true picture. There is a fine blurry line between money and quality. If measures are not taken, economics will prevail over the quality of the game, standards will be dropped. BCCI needs to look from the prism of business as well maintaining the standard of game. I hope I am proved wrong, but I don’t see we as a team taking big strides in Test Cricket moving on. Pujara, Kohli and Rahane unfortunately are the remaining torch-bearers of the fading light of Test Cricket in India.
I know many will harp at this, but friends what you saw last month in England was a true reflection of the sport, not the visuals that you will see in the next month and a half.