Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Thrills and Frills of Home

With all the hype surrounding the India-England series and the Indian media portraying the series as a grudge series, it is disappointing that the talk of the town has been about the nature of the pitches rather than about some engrossing cricket which has been played over the last two weeks.

A lot of talk has taken place about the extent of home advantage a team must have. I believe that’s where the beauty of test cricket lies, the different challenges one has to face when travelling to different countries is what makes cricket a very unique and intriguing sport. There have been times when spinning tracks have been ruled as unsporting and I find that pretty absurd since a green top is considered as a fair wicket. A track which turns from day one can be considered as unsporting only when the result of the game is highly dependent on the toss. A track can be considered as sporting when it favours both batsmen and bowlers equally. It has almost become a norm these days that if a bowler’s track is laid out, it is considered as a bad track, but on the other hand if it is a batsman’s paradise, no one seems to make a fuss about it.  That’s where I feel Dhoni’s unyielding request for tracks which have turn and bounce right from day one is a wonderful step in order to change the state of wickets which are prepared in India. For most part of the last decade, there have been way too many flat tracks which have been prepared leading to high scoring draws. As we saw in Mumbai, the toss was taken out of the equation, the spinners got turn and bounce from day one, fast bowlers found carry as good as one can get in India, Pietersen and Cook showed there was good value for your shots once you get in. Yes the creation of a supposedly tailor made track for India backfired, but we were able to witness some wonderful cricket, with the pitch not too inclined to support one facet of the game.

It has become a major talking point, whether India’s strategy of preparing pitches to suit their team is moral or not. Though I see no problem in having pitches suited to the home team’s strength, it is the Indian team and media’s attitude with which I am quite perplexed. The word which has been floating around has been about Australia and England preparing green tops to suit their fast bowlers, so why should India not prepare tracks to suit their spinners. The pitches during India’s tours to England and Australia where nowhere close to green tops. The only reason we lost is simple. We were outplayed in all the three departments! How else can one explain that when Australia and England used to pile up big scores, India could barely cross 250 in almost all of their innings? It wasn’t as though the pitch was green when India batted and became flat when they bowled!

There lies part of the bigger problem for India. With the retirement of stalwarts Dravid and Laxman, and Sachin’s colossal career coming to an end it is necessary they identify and back a group of batsmen who have the skills to play in all sorts of conditions. We need to give priority to performers in first class cricket -as of now we have lot of cricketers who are coming in through performances in the limited overs cricket. They can thrill but unfortunately it’s all frill! During the period between 2002 and 2007 when India did reasonably well overseas a lot credit was given to the remarkable performances of batsmen. But the most crucial element was the performance of Kumble during that period. He was the leading wicket taker overseas in the world during that period. Remarkable for a man who was considered only good for home conditions. How MS Dhoni must be wishing he had one such bowler who could perform such a similar role for him.

It is disappointing to see the team and BCCI not admitting that they performed extremely poorly during their last two tours. Results don’t matter but it is what you learn from the experiences is what Dhoni has been emphasizing on. But if you don’t acknowledge your mistakes, it is pretty hard to improve from there on. Only a couple of test wins more and Dhoni will become the most successful Indian captain ever in terms of wins registered. With the team in a transition period, and results not going his way, he is going through the most difficult phase of his career. How he performs from here, will define his legacy.


Rohit Ramachandran PoduvalAbout Rohit Ramachandran Poduval
A Classical Leg Spinner, Writer and Software Engineer. Please feel free to add my to your circles. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook


Mahesh said...

IMO Indians changed the spin track during the 2000 and made it flat tracks for all the matches including Ranji, which resulted in poor batting skills and Spinners in the domestic were not getting the reward they started thinking of containing the batsman scoring runs. After T20 emerged the spinners were rated on the economy rate alone, strike rate isn't considered much. When the pitches were rank turners any domestic player at least performed in India, now Indians are muddy waters. We don't have bowlers who can take wicket in Spin track or pace track. We don't have batsman who has patience who can see the ball going to keeper for 10 overs. To top it all we don't have a coach who isn't showing any commitment .

rohitrp2003 said...

It has become really bad, the younger generation hasnt stepped up. We still havent found a replacement for Ganguly. Wonder how long it will take to replace Dravid, Laxman and Sachin

Chandan3 said...

Maybe Pujara and Rohit won't disappoint as much as the others have but can't see others others coming through. People say Rahane but he has failed against decent attacks everytime. So don't have much hope there. Rohit? When will he become consistent even in Ranji? Tiwari? Couldn't prove himself in A tour. We'll have one more A tour next July in SA vs SA. Let us see if we find someone in that tour or not.

rohitrp2003 said...

I still feel Rohit should be given a chance in test matches. There is a wide gulf in his performances in first class and domestic List A matches as well (as stated in one of my previous articles ) He should be given a run. Tiwari didnt perform during India A's tour to WI. But he has been scoring consistently, quite unfair that he hasnt been given an opportunity especially in ODIs. I am not aware of Rahane not performing against decent attacks, so cannot comment on that. But Shane Warne has rated him highly :) A tour to SA in July?! Very interesting. Our players will be tested during the winter there!!

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