Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Panic button in the times of Knee Jerks !

England on the verge of thrashing India 4-0 in the Test series. There are reactions galore. One of my friends said, “What happened all of a sudden that the batsmen, bowlers and fielders; all have failed except for one”.
Geoffrey Boycott  declared, “India look like a pale shadow of an ordinary team”. There are a lot of reactions, over-reactions and knee-jerk reaction with doomsayers abundant.
In spite of a lot of criticism, Dhoni declared, “No need to press the panic button”. Sreesanth said, “This is not the toughest series we have played”. Not much has been heard from the likes of Laxman, Sachin, Sehwag and of course Gambhir.
Facebook, Twitter and all social networking sites are overflowing with snide remarks, tweets and offensive comments about the greed of our players. It hurts to see a team lose like this. I don’t remember Team India playing such spineless Cricket since the 2003 New Zealand series.
For one who predicted a 2-1 or 1-2 or 2-2 result for the series, I too am taken aback. So I decided to sit back and doing a postmortem of the series. Keeping the knee-jerk out, here is what I feel about the series.
What went right for England
England were playing full strength with very few carrying injuries. Playing at home, they had abundant supply of replacements. They had walloped Australia in Australia and were very very eager for the No. 1 spot. They played ruthless, efficient and Champion brand of Cricket, no doubts. They deserve to be No. 1 now and no contesting that either. But if we look closer, so many things went in favor of England. Almost all things.
Home conditions, swinging pitches with bounce and carry.
All top order batters in form and even one who was out of form came out on top as the series progressed.
Their bowlers were definitely in supreme control and never allowed Indian batsmen to relax.
Every Umpiring and UDRS decisions went in favor of England. They got the Bell run-out reversed and sent Dravid packing when there was no clear evidence.
Overall they were fantastic on field and absolutely ruthless in every aspect including gamesmanship.
What went wrong for India
Sehwag and Gambhir in full form and fitness have terrorized best of the bowling attacks over the past 4 years. Both of them were coming back from long lay off and lack of match fitness showed.
Laxman and Tendulkar have done fabulously well for 4 years since 2007, the last time India toured England. Every time there was a crisis, one of these two had stepped in to lift the team. It was just the law of averages perhaps. Both failed in tandem.
During the series, India never completed test without someone breaking down.
Losing 2 out of 11 players on a tour can be tough. Then how about entire half of the team ? Gambhir, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Sachin and then Praveen Kumar were hampered by injuries at one time or the other. Three of them were completely sidelined.
Umpires were reasonably kind to India but UDRS was not.
I have no complaint about the Cricket India played. The best of the teams can lose. But the way they capitulated to the pressure mounted by England to call back Bell was deplorable. For me, that was the defining moment in the series. If India had stood the ground, it would not have escalated into World war-3. But it definitely would have sent a message across. It was all downhill from there. The tough have thumped the soft-bellied meek.
This piece should not be dismissed as rantings of a disgruntled Indian fan. Just remember how England bumbled through World Cup 2011 and then kept complaining about everything including the size of the shrimps served for dinner.
Before we castigate this team for this series, let us not forget they had ‘Won’ the World Cup less than four months ago and had not lost a Test series since 2008. This just was one really sad series where nothing went right for India and everything worked perfectly for England. That will not happen all the times. India will bounce back and we have enough talent to sustain us in the Top-3 if not the top spot.
So, cheer up guys and gals and relax. Tomorrow is another day and Poms will fall sooner than later !
Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

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