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England were too good for India

We’ve had miserable series in the past when nothing seemed to go our way, when questions were asked by supporters regarding our motivation, commitment and fitness, and when everything appeared dark. Anil Kumble writes.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2011 02:17 IST

India have been here before. We’ve had miserable series in the past when nothing seemed to go our way, when questions were asked by supporters regarding our motivation, commitment and fitness, and when everything appeared dark. We didn’t panic then, and we shouldn’t panic now.

Parallels have been found between this series in England and the one that was played there in 1974, or the Australia series just over a decade ago, both of which we lost 3-0.

I remember the latter series. We’d finally get Australia out after they had put up a big score, and just as the bowlers would be looking forward to a shower and a period of rest, we’d get to hear the crowd cheering in that distinctive way which meant only one thing — a wicket had fallen.

Cheer, cheer, cheer, and it would be quickly time to put on the pads! India disappointed; but this is a series that England won, not one that India lost.

It is important to understand the subtlety because the home team were the better prepared, the more charged up and by far the fitter.

We fell short in the planning department, and weren’t given the room to unfurl our brand of cricket which is based so much on flair and panache. Ishant Sharma apart — and he too only very briefly — the Indian bowlers didn’t hit the deck with the kind of consistency that the England bowlers did.

What should be done now? It is a question I (and I am sure all former cricketers, officials and anybody involved in the game) have been asked constantly over the last few days.

It is easy to hand out advice free of cost from far away, but you need to be a part of the set-up to understand which of these three choices need to be made:

Give the team a solid dressing down.
Give the team a break from the round of matches and more matches
Give the team a refresher course — back to the basics.

This team contains some of the most experienced men to have ever played the game, and two of the highest runmakers in Test cricket.

These, and others in the team, are proud men who feel strongly when things go badly. The choice has to be made by the captain, coach and seniors. It is possible that they are too fatigued to put their mind to the problem.

There is some merit in each of the 'whys' that have been discussed as the reason for India's poor showing: fatigue, mental and physical, lack of a culture of fitness, lack of preparation, the almost child-like belief that since everything has been going well so far, it will continue to do so and sheer momentum will carry India over the line, the injuries to key players Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag. It is a long list.

There is something very Indian about lack of fitness - not too many players are keen on the hard work and the sacrifices that go towards keeping them at their peak in crucial series.

You can have any number of physical trainers, but ultimately a player is answerable only to himself.

When he looks in the mirror, he has to be honest and ask himself if he is as fit as he ought to be.

In India, we usually leave it to the players, but some of the trust might have been shaken after this. When the No. 1 team in the world loses a series by a huge margin, their drawbacks get exaggerated and their rivals are often not given their due. England were too good for India, a fact that some fans might find difficult to digest.