OPINION

Wanted Immediately - A Next Gen Dravid and Tendulkar

April 16, 2006
bevivek

Two weeks back I wrote a satirical piece on the lack of sound technique in the Indian cricket team.

Like most satires, it hid within a real concern.

The worry for India is that the batsmen of Generation Next, the people who presumably form the backbone of the team of the morrow - Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Mohammed Kaif and Suresh Raina - have zip technique. Not a big factor in one-dayers where just one or two batsmen need to pitch in on a day, where the wickets are often belters and the dice are loaded against bowlers, but critical in test cricket.

India's recent test record on pitches that offer even a little bounce and movement shows that Rahul Dravid apart, no Indian batsman has got what it takes to play in such conditions. The Pakistani bowlers in Karachi and the English bowlers in the recent three tests in India ruthlessly exposed these flaws. No foot movement, shuffling across, playing away from the body, slashing at wide balls, inability to play the rising delivery with any conviction - the list of incompetencies is long.

In two or at most three years, Dravid would be gone. Tendulkar, once a player who combined technique and flair, is on his last legs.

Where are the Dravids and Tendulkars of the Next Gen Indian test team?

I don't see them anywhere. Do you?

A team without such players is a team without a backbone. A team with the Dravids and the Tendulkars allows the Sehwags and Dhonis to play their strokes. When the going is tough, they have the skill and the patience to hunker down and play for time.

A pointer to where the problem lies may be the BCCI's approach to forming the test and one day squads. In a puzzling reversal of the norm where the Test Team forms the nucleus of the ODI team, in India, the one day squad appears to be the foundation for the test team with a few concessions to playing 5 days such as the inclusion of a Wasim Jaffar.

But Jaffar is no Dravid, nor a Sachin and I would argue, not even an Akaash Chopra.

As a result, the Indian test team today is composed almost wholly of players with immense flair but little technique. A team perfect for the shorter version but disaster in the longer where there are no field restrictions, where multiple players are needed to put their hand up over 5 days, on tracks offering some assistance to bowlers and against good bowling attacks.

The suspicion in many minds highlighted recently by Ashok Malik in his Cricinfo article, Chappell's Faustian bargain, is that the coach, with the active collusion of the board, is focussed entirely on winning the 2007 World Cup and damn the consequences to our test cricket.

Prem Panicker and Dileep Premachandran have countered Ashok's argument, first by arguing that Indian test cricket's recent average actually is on par with the earlier era, i.e. all is well or at least not worse, and second, by saying that since no one watches test cricket, it don't matter much anyway.

Whatever the truth and whatever the cause, unless Indian cricket can find Next Gen players of class and technique, they risk becoming bunnies in the test arena, even if they be lions in one dayers. Of course, if we side with Prem's argument, this won't matter since test cricket is anyway well on the way to becoming history.

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Wanted Immediately - A Next Gen Dravid and Tendulkar

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Author: bevivek

 

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#1
Aditya Kuber
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April 18, 2006
07:05 AM

Er... exactly where does one 'find' such players? While I agree with your point, I don't think looking for them will turn them up. Existing players have to be moulded to become someone who can fill the void. Like Pathan finally seems to be developing into an all-rounder...

#2
bevivek
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April 19, 2006
06:26 AM

Aditya - "Exactly where does one 'find' such players?"

From that same black hole from where were 'found' the Rainas and Dhonis. Surely somewhere in the visible Indian cricketing world of district/regional/Ranji players there lurk at least a couple of players with technique. I said 'Find' in my article because to find something has to look specifically for that something. And the current search criteria of for batsmen by BCCI if articulated would be, "Wanted - Players with flair and hazaar attitude".

I don't think you can mould one of the existing lot such as Raina or Yuvraj to become a Dravid. It's too late for that.

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