BCCI should get its act together
How can we expect the Virat Kohlis, Suresh Rainas and Rohit Sharmas, who have been fed on ODI and T20 staple diet, to come good against hostile and accurate fast bowling? Even our senior stalwarts, despite their experience and expertise, find difficult to deal with it at times? Though successful in more than 50 ODIs and IPL masala matches, it in no way prepares them to play Test cricket as the emphasis, environment and goals are entirely different. It is unfair to expect them to dazzle as soon as they are thrown into a Test match cauldron.
In addition, brought up as they are on pitches that hardly rise above knee level, (courtesy BCCI), how can we expect them to face the likes of Dale Steyn, Chris Broad and now Pattinson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle with confidence on fast and bouncy pitches? Before, where have they seen the ball rise up to their throat or bang into their ribs with a close-in field? Even as a batsman taps one and scampers across in relief, our 'expert' commentators hail: 'they all count, no matter how they come'.
Tendulkar, Dravid, and Laxman cut their teeth mainly in Ranji and Duleep Trophy matches and in Test matches, where they honed their skills before they came to the shorter version. They also had the advantage of playing the best bowlers in business in County circuit for years, which taught, among other things, discipline while facing hostile bowling on different tracks that formed dots on their learning curve. That's where they worked on their technique and that is why they have scored tons of runs and became legends no one should lose sight of.
Our most successful youngsters are going through hell and this will undoubtedly happen to others too if we don't face up to the reality and take some hard decisions now. Unfortunately, the BCCI has allowed grass to grow under its feet by involving in trivia such as DRS and that is why we are facing the present situation. Solution will have to come thick and in double-quick time.
Whether we like it or not, it's the Ranji Trophy that can provide solution to the present mess. BCCI must ensure lively and bouncy tracks for all domestic matches and let the hopefuls, who want to play Test for the country, fight it out while getting accustomed to pace, swing and spin. This is where we can teach players virtues of patience to build an innings of substance. Young fast bowlers from other countries could be invited to play in Ranji Trophy. We should make compulsory even for our Test cricketers to play in at least a few Ranji Trophy matches every year. BCCI should come down on associations that prepare pitches dead as a dodo. The team for Tests should be primarily picked up from players who have performed well in Ranji Trophy.
If Ranji Trophy matches can be taken to tier-2 cities, more crowds will come to watch in these cities and towns. In short, Ranji and Duleep Trophies should become major feeding points for our Test squads.
Overindulgence in ODI and T20 have wrought havoc and unless some balance is struck between Ranji and Duleep matches on one hand and ODIs and T20s on the other, India's performance in Test cricket will nosedive further. That's for sure.
Further, BCCI must ensure that indecent behavior of any kind in public has only one penalty, i.e., 'Exit' from the team. Hopefully, along with finer aspects of cricket, our upcoming cricketers pick up how to behave in public from our seniors.
Finally, we should come out of 'intolerable in victory and insufferable in defeat' syndrome. Aussies weren't baying for blood when their side scored less than 100 in four Tests last year or become hysterical when they touched 600-plus in Sidney or when Michael Clarke scored a triple century.
We treat our cricketers like Gods when they are winning and God forbid, if they lose! From the heavens they hit the hell in the blink of an eye and knives are out for scalping from the very 'experts' singing their hosannas.
The old should pave for the new. That's the law of nature. Youngsters will take their place soon. If the Board hasn't done its job of preparing the younger lot, it is not the fault of seniors. Let us not treat our stalwarts shabbily as we are known to because of failure in few innings at the tail end of their career. They are the true legends of the game and have carried India on their shoulders many a time.
More about E R RamachandranE.R. Ramachandran, a corporate manager-turned-columnist has contributed to Hindustan times and Deccan Herald. He is a regular contributor to the Churumuri blog and writes a weekly column for Mysore Mail, a local Newspaper. Satire being his forte, he combines cricket and other sports with politics, in 'tongue in cheek' articles. He firmly believes that another 22-ball century can never happen again in any format of cricket like the one Don Bradman did in November 1931. And feels it is time for BCCI to do something to improve India's fielding and running between the wickets.
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