With public disappointment turning into rage over the team's humiliating loss, the mujrim kaun match is in full swing to search for scapegoats. As usual, the BCCI is the prime suspect because people feel that whatever the issue, the Board must be responsible. But this time along with the BCCI, the IPL and captain MS Dhoni are also squarely in the line of fire.
The FIR against Dhoni contains charges covering absence of inspiration, tactical errors and excessive faith in undeserving players. But, his defense asks, why blame him if Jadeja bowls lollipops and Yuvraj can't put bat to ball. The IPL's crime: youngsters like Rohit Sharma were knackered by off-field commitments, so they lost form and focus. The counter argument: if this was really the case then what about Warner, Watson or Hussey who partied equally hard?
In this swirling confusion, trust Dr SMG who holds a PhD in cricket to cut through the clutter and nail the truth. Forget excuses, says the Master, the team lost because it could not cope with the short stuff. When batsmen automatically get on the front foot looking to drive through the line there is a problem if the ball lands in the bowlers’ half. To fix the problem the boys should head to the NCA and work with a bowling machine cranked to 140 kmph or have lads bowl from 18 yards.
Failure to cope with short bowling is part of Indian cricket's baggage. This shortcoming sits with us since the days of Colonel CK Nayudu and Merchant. Coach Kirsten though, has chucked some modern bouncers of his own as well.
The coach has claimed to be fitter than many players (a claim unlikely to be contested by many) and questioned the fitness and attitude of team members. But Kirsten should have understood by now that sloppy fielding and unfit players are also part of Indian cricket's glorious tradition. Indian players are unathletic and when it comes to training they respond to force, encouraging words fall on deaf ears.
Getting players into the gym is more difficult than ensuring Muralitharan bowls without bending his arm.
Even then, Kirsten's anger about lack of josh and the carefree attitude is understandable. The underlying message in all this is Indian cricket could do with more all-round respect. The fans need to respect players for their skill and talent, not treat them like Gods. The players must treat cricket, the country and their fans with respect. Otherwise, even as the sport changes, the Indian team will remain the same.