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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Cricket Columns

India look dispirited and disinterested in Australia
Amrit Mathur
January 10, 2012
First Published: 00:03 IST(10/1/2012)
Last Updated: 00:05 IST(10/1/2012)

Put aside, for a moment, the disappointment of the surrender in Sydney and the pain of another crushing defeat overseas. Also, erase the depressing memory of Sachin's inability to take the final step towards the ultimate personal milestone.

While these are issues that frustrate us, there are other pressing matters that demand attention. In cricket, or any sport for that matter, form counts, as does momentum, and success results only when different elements fall into place. For Geet Sethi, a knowledgeable and keen observer of sport, success is an accident that occurs when talent, hard work and good fortune come together through some divine design.

Attitude
Obviously, the Indian team has committed some grave sin for missing out on such divine blessings. Surely, it can't be argued that the Indian team lacks talent because the eleven players on the field are the best in the business.

The quibble is not about quality but attitude, focus and commitment. In Australia, the team looks not just dispirited, which is understandable, but disinterested, which is not understandable. Sunil Gavaskar, a proud Indian, could barely conceal his anger when he remarked that the Indians seemed to be on a shopping trip.

This lack of spark is mirrored in the negative body language, advertised by drooping shoulders and the look of resignation on the faces of players. It is evident even to a casual onlooker that the Indian team could do with some energy, intensity and purpose.

A related crib is about sloppy fielding, a long-standing failing of Indian cricket. The two defeats in Australia have again exposed India's dismal standards of fitness and athleticism. The Aussies chase down everything in the deep. In contrast, the Indians are like senior citizens on a casual morning walk in Lodhi garden. The 'outcricket' is from an era long gone - throws from third man, let alone from long off/long on, reach the keeper only on the bounce.

Revamp the NCA
One solution to end India's continuing woes would be to revamp the Bangalore NCA to make it a centre that genuinely promotes excellence. Though started with that noble intention, the NCA is yet to sharpen young talent to ready it for international cricket. It has also not taken the lead in improving standards of wickets or umpiring. Instead, it has become a nursing home of sorts, meant for the tired, ageing and the injured.

When Michael Clarke was asked for a comment on his triple hundred, and the opportunity of setting new records, his response was revealing. I only want respect, he said, from fans, players and the country.

On current form, respect for the Indian team is fast eroding.

The writer is a cricket administrator and the views expressed are his own


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