I read with a lot of interest the statements by BCCI president N Srinivasan on the debacle in Australia.
He says there won’t be any knee jerk reaction, which is good.
He says the tour is yet to get over, which is correct.
He says the team has had just two bad away Test series, which is also correct.
But isn’t eight overseas Test losses in a row reason enough to press the panic button and verify what is the matter with the team, with the system and Indian cricket as a whole. Isn’t it the time to introspect and face some inconvenient truths?
I am not for a moment running down the greats of the Test line-up. Infact the very reason we had heightened expectations from them was because of these extraordinary gentlemen. They have been the greatest middle order India has ever had.
But what I am suggesting is this constant reference to the World Cup win by the president Mr N Srinivasan. It baffles me.
That win was in the one-day format. The team is losing in the Test format.
If you want to know what is further wrong, look at the recent win-loss record of India’s Twenty20 squad. Now, please do not point towards the win in the 2007 World T20. That was five years ago.
What it clearly shows is that India’s Test and T20 squads are facing issues. It is time we rectify the matter and nip it in the bud. That will start with admitting that we have a problem, which the BCCI president is not willing to admit. It seems he overestimates the power of denial.
Australia and England suffered similar tragedies in their Ashes series losses. Both Boards admitted they have a problem and effected structural changes around the team, board and selection panels.
In India we are running shy of admitting to the harsh realities. Why? Should we not take a hard look at ourselves? Only fools don’t change their minds.
We are of course the commercial capital of the world of cricket. But that is also because of our players. If they are not performing shouldn’t we be concerned? It will trigger the cascading effect. If the player quality dips, the commerce will also be affected. Maybe that is a simple reality that has been conveniently forgotten.
England and Australia appointed specific Managing Director and General Manager (Performance) to look after the welfare of the team along with the head coach and team director. They have a full-time manager and a full-time media manager travelling with the team. Positions were given to people with result-oriented targets.
All this is thanks to the review. A system was put in place. So instead of a senior player or a junior player, the system decided whether he should play or not play.
Can we not pick key elements of their reviews by Australia and England? Or atleast create our own.
Why even New Zealand held an honest review and made structural changes bringing in a selection manager and a director of cricket.
Why is India fighting shy?
Enough of beating around the bush. Indian cricket is accountable to its fans and the people who plough back the money into the game.
It is time we take urgent steps and call for an honest review of Indian cricket set-up. Appoint Kapil Dev alongwith former players of the calibre of GR Viswanath and Mohinder Amarnath, to come up with a report on the hows and whys of the Indian cricket structure.
If and when Rahul Dravid calls it a day in the future, and if I was BCCI president, I would immediately approach him with the job of Director of Cricket for BCCI.
His main task, to set-up systems, co-ordinate cricketing matters at all levels and bethe main point for all cricketing matters with a paid professional staff to support him.
Why Dravid? As a senior player, vice-captain and captain he has played key roles in Indian cricket both on and off the field. His role in bringing in player contracts along with Anil Kumble was exceptional. His understanding of cricketing matters, structural issues and other important matters is tremendous.
Can we not have Dravid or someone of his calibre, who would be fresh and contemporary at the helm of affairs? A full structure with the Director of Cricket, cricket operations department and head coach working in tandem will work well for India.
Also for reasons unexplained Anil Kumble resigned. Was it because the mandarins at BCCI did not agree with his thoughts or ideas? If Dravid or any other person was to be appointed as Director of Cricket then he should be given a clear mandate to implement. He will only be able to do that if his hands are not tied behind his back. There should be little or no meddling by the office-bearers.
The other issue would be to force changes in the domestic cricket structure. Ranji Trophy needs overhauling and it needs to go through a few changes. I was terribly disappointed that on the eve of the Ranji Trophy final, the board members were busy discussing about the nature of the pitches for fifth season of the IPL and not admitting that the Chennai wicket – in the BCCI President’s backyard - for the Ranji final was not up to the mark.
The victory of Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy in two successive seasons is thanks to all the hard work we put in at the Rajasthan Cricket Association. The state of the art academy in Jaipur is a centre of excellence, which is better than even the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
The NCA has just ended up producing coaches rather than being a High Performance Centre. Can’t we take a hard look at this 12-year-old white elephant?
Finally, will everybody stop blaming the IPL for the Test debacles. On this Australia tour, who was the only centurion for India, Virat Kohli. He is the only player to have played almost all the IPL and CLT20 games for his franchise, yet he outscored his peers. (I wouldn’t like to mention David Warner, another IPL discovery, since he hurt my team bad)
What does that show?
It just reflects that there is a problem.
If only the BCCI president would care to admit to it.