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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014
Lesson for India: Don’t keep picking players on reputation
Ian Botham, Hindustan Times
December 19, 2012
First Published: 01:25 IST(19/12/2012)
Last Updated: 10:44 IST(19/12/2012)
England celebrate their series win on the fifth day of the 4th test match between India and England at VCA stadium in Nagpur. HT Photo

With two 4-0 drubbings overseas and now a 2-1 defeat at home, the India cricket team has a lot to worry about. One aspect of the defeat was that they played a team, which was better than them. However, there is a lot of scope for improvement for the India team.

Comparing both captains wouldn't be fair. Dhoni is experienced and isn't scared to try out new things. He is not the stereotype and is a good captain who has achieved a lot over the years. Cook is new to the job. He has spent a lot of time under Andrew Strauss, so we can see a lot of Strauss in his captaincy. What has helped him is a settled team and his own batting form.

Coming back to the series from India's perspective, I would ask, how many of the lot want to seriously play Test cricket? I would seek coach Duncan Fletcher's help to identify those players and then work towards building a better Test side. For the past one-and-a-half years, the current Indian method isn't working, so why not let Fletcher do what he wants to do? I strongly believe that if you have someone of his calibre, then you need to make the most of it.
The big concerns for India are Test-cricket fitness and also a dearth of good fast bowlers at Test level.

No pacers
When you go into a Test with just one fast bowler that shows there is something seriously wrong with that department. While James Anderson proved that seam bowling is crucial in those conditions, his Indian counterparts struggled. Umesh Yadav's injury was a setback, but India quickly needs to find out a bunch of pace bowlers who can partner Ishant Sharma in Test cricket.
When I look at the fitness of some of the India players, I wonder if they are fit enough for Test cricket.

Perseverance
Test cricket isn't about lasting for three hours and scoring quick runs or bowling a few overs; it also tests your fitness for five days! The opening slot too is another huge area of concern and they just can't keep picking players on reputation.
There are a lot of questions being asked about Sachin Tendulkar, but I would still have him in my team. He has not thrown his wicket away but fallen to very good balls, unlike a few others who played poor shots and fished outside the stumps.
Over the years, spin bowling has been a great strength for India but this is a transition phase and the current spin bowlers aren't very experienced. While I rate R Ashwin highly, I don't know how much success Piyush Chawla will get with his action.
He hasn't impressed me enough. I think he was lucky to get four wickets in the first innings of the Nagpur Test.
 PMG
The writer is former England captain

 


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