Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Once Most Feared Tour…

West Indian tour was the most feared tour at one point of time both for the Indian Cricketers and the Indian spectators at home both having different reasons of course. Indian batsmen feared the West Indian tall and quick bowlers who would bowl bouncers at will and make them hop like a hot potato in hand, the wickets also didn’t give any relief to the Indian batsmen, the wickets had bounce and pace which Indian batsmen used to hate and was not comfortable, only a few Indian batsmen like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were little comfortable in the Island country in 1997 tour and Indian spectators feared this tour for the time difference, A 1 month long West Indian tour means 1 month of sleepless nights. Till the tour of 1997 the Indian batsmen were never comfortable to tour the Island country. Till late 1990s India were found this tour to be one of the most difficult tours.
Over the next 1 month India are back to the Island country where they do not have a very good record. India have played 42 test matches over 9 full series in WI starting from 1952-53 and last being in 2006, they have lost 18 test matches and won just 4 tests and out of 9 series India have won 2 series (1970-71 and 2006) and lost 7 series and out of the 4 test match wins 2 have come in the last decade (2001 and 2006) and 1 each came in series of 1970 and 1975 series. But things have changed now and only a few previous fears are still alive to come back and haunt India. Over the period of time since the 1970s where West Indies was the most feared team and was arguably the best ever team, the standard of their cricket has gone down considerably. The current team is nowhere close to the team of 1970s-80s and early 1990s. There are various reasons for the downfall of the West Indian team over the years. Few of the reasons being:
1) The standard of cricket set up by the formers greats are so high that it is difficult to match up with talent wise.
2) The retirement of all the former greats happened at the same time.
3) The pitches have lost their venom, the bounce and pace they had once is nowhere to be seen and on the contrary they have changed into the spin friendly pitches which helps teams like India and is not helpful for the home team as they don’t have any world class spinners to take wickets and don’t have world class batsmen against quality spin to score runs.
4) The backup talent after the retirements is not good.
5) One more important reason I think is the relationship between the Cricket Board and the players. The frequent fights between the board and players leads to too much of chopping and changing in the team which leads to unbalance team.
6) Not having proper talent management programmes. They should find talent and then do everything to nurture the talent this would benefit them in years to come.
Once their entire team was full of match winners, but now they even struggle to have one who can lift them. Now the West Indies is like a home away from home for the Indian team. The once scene of Charlie Griffith breaking the skull of Nari Contractor with his venomous bouncer in 1961-62 series is nowhere to be seen now, that scenes is been replaced by the slow and low pitches where the ball does not bounce over the knee height. West Indies was considered to a grave yard for debutant batsmen but when Virat Kohli would take guard in test matches making his debut it won’t be the same for him he has been brought up on pitches like this and bowling he would be facing won’t be that fearsome.
The West Indian cricket has one way to go that is UP, they are facing the number 1 team in test cricket, they have nothing to lose. On the contrary they should look at the Indian team for inspiration; they could look at the Indian batsmen and hunger for runs of players like VVS. Rahul Dravid and Virendar Sehwag over the years, a few tips and experience of such players would hold them in good future. West Indian quick bowlers should look up to Zaheer Khan for his experience and try to pick his brains on fast bowling and bowling on dead, slow and low pitches. They bowlers can also look up to Harbhajan Singh for his advice. They can even learn from the younger players of Team India, players like Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, and Gautam Gambhir. I feel West Indies team should use this Indian tour as a learning experience for them. The Indian team have some legends in their side and have loads of experience which should help the West Indies team and their youngsters. It’s the way they take this series either they can take the beating from the Champion team hands down or stand up and learn from the experience of the champion team. This Indian team has transformed from an average team to a champion team, so their entire experience would benefit the West Indian team of years to come. I think more than the cricketing skills they should try to learn and try to pick up the things which work between the ears or try to learn the mind games and how they can have a strong mind and determination. The best team of West Indies were very good with their cricketing skills but was very strong mentally which the current team lacks.
Although the West Indies tour is not so feared any more for the Indian Cricketers but it continues to be feared tour for the spectators in India, as there would be many a sleepless nights for the next 1month. Let us all hope we once again get to see the West Indies team of the 70s and 80s but as an Indian would not want that to happen against the Indian Team.
Ricky Singh for DieHard Cricket Fans

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