Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team caught in time warp after South Africa loss | Opinion

Indian cricket team has made no real progress in preparation, planning, vision, strategic thinking and it’s cricket is a modern sport trapped in a medieval system

columns Updated: Jan 25, 2018 09:34 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Virat Kohli,Indian cricket team,South Africa vs India
Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team continue to suffer overseas after losing the series to South Africa. (REUTERS)

After 2/0, unnecessary hype of the No 1 Test team seeking revenge from South Africa is biting India. This series was to be the defining moment when it’s aggressive general and triumphant army was to conquer new territories. But this bubble burst, history repeated itself and India’s sorry overseas record remained intact.

While fans are disappointed and outraged depending on their emotional status, ‘students’ of the game search for answers to two troubling questions: Why can’t we win away from home and why do batsmen who prosper at Wankhede fade away at Wanderers?

That batting technique is an issue is obvious to everyone. Front-foot play, driving on the up, hitting through the line is great on low/slow tracks but no good in South Africa, England and Australia. A cotton shirt is fine in summer but not good enough for the Delhi winter.

Partly the problem is we were led to believe Virat’s team was different. The captain himself is aggressive and driven, and players are fitter and stronger. All have loads of attitude, all talk tough about ‘domination’ and ‘intent’ to win. The chief coach announced this team means business.

Sanjay Manjrekar made an interesting observation that the outward look of the team has changed but the ‘Indianness’ of Indian cricket is still the same. From a cricketing standpoint, we are where we were 50 years ago when Ajit Wadekar won two series abroad. There is no real progress in preparation, planning, vision and strategic thinking. Indian cricket is a modern sport trapped in a medieval system.

Players are not to blame and to move forward, according to Sanjay, commercial sacrifices must be made for cricket gains. The cost benefit analysis of the recent India-Sri Lanka series is a good example of a bad cricket decision. The BCCI gained broadcast and sponsorship revenue but Indian cricket suffered a crippling loss.

The reforms needed to progress Indian cricket are not state secrets. In any sincere intent to improve, the first step would be to look at Ranji, the foundation of all cricket, and fix it. Domestic cricket must promote quality but this can’t be switched on by pressing a button.

If first-class cricket produces second-rate players there is little hope of winning overseas. And, think what will happen if more state teams are added by courts and judges-turned-administrators. For cricket to improve, officials will have to be on the ball. It’s time to drop lip service about the game being bigger than anything else and actually get down to serious work.

More than anything else, it is a matter of showing respect, looking at the larger picture and placing cricket ahead of other considerations. Australia have already announced their schedule for next year but compare this to the repeated self-inflicted ‘surgical’ strikes on Indian cricket this year. Ranji underwent last-minute change, back to home-away format instead of ‘neutral’ venues. Duleep scrapped, then resorted. Under-23 tournament revamped. Mushtaq Ali given a complete makeover, structure changed, dates changed, venues changed. One wonders what experiments will happen next year.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 09:30 IST