Instead of calling for Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman to be jettisoned, can their critics point to the better options?
The Holy Trinity of India's batting – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman – has scored more than 37,000 Test runs between them and still finds itself in the centre of criticism whenever India struggle. No doubt Laxman and Dravid have struggled to get runs in the current series but that does not mean former players should call for their axing or retirement.
Some of the criticism they have been subjected to in the past few weeks is absolutely rubbish. Whatever the case has been, there is no valid reason do drop any of them. Though Laxman has been out of sorts for quite some time, he has averaged more than 40 over the past year. Dravid, of course, was the most successful Test batsman in 2011 and Tendulkar has oozed class whenever he's come out to bat.
The likes of Vinod Kambli, Arun Lal and other former players have been quoted by various news channels saying that it's time for the seniors to call it quits. Really? Do they have any replacement for these greats? There is no way on earth you can find replacements for these three class acts. Kambli's and Lal's comments were the most laughable.
One panelist on a TV channel reminded viewers that when Sunil Gavaskar retired, people feared that there would be no replacement. However, he eagerly pointed out, in a few years along came Tendulkar, then Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. The same panelist declared that in a few years Indian cricket would throw up replacements for these batsmen too. Another panelist chirped in by adding that though the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have not proven themselves as consistent Test batsmen, they could really be handy for India.
We thought the same that we can't find their replacement but we had likes of Sachin, Dravid and Sourav Ganguly replace them, in few years time we will surely find the replacement of these three as well, said the former Indian player. Another panelist added, Why the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have not been consistently pick for the Test side, they can be really handy for the team.
Sorry, but Yuvraj and Raina have been given enough opportunities to make their way into the team but time and time again they have disappointed the whole nation and the selectors. If former players really need a change in the team then why target only these three veterans? What have Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni done in the series? Why don't critics call for their heads? Why don't the selectors axe Sehwag and Dhoni from the Test team? What has the pair done over the past year? Just because Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman are at the ends of their career doesn't make them easy targets.
From the younger crop, apart from Cheteshwar Pujara no rookie looks capable of playing in overseas conditions like Australia, England and South Africa. Unfortunately for Pujara injuries have stunted his growth. If our former greats want the likes of Manoj Tiwary, Wridhiman Saha, Abhinav Mukund and Parthiv Patel to play in these conditions then all these so called experts are day-dreaming. With all due respect to these players, they are good but not that good enough.
If anyone really has to be blamed it is the BCCI for promoting the IPL. The shortest format of the game has cluttered the minds of our players. If the BCCI really wants India to recapture the top spot, they have to get their priorities right. Make Tests the No. 1 priority and scrap this IPL, this tamasha cricket. Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar have gone on record and said that the IPL should not be blamed for India's debacle. Why should not we blame it? Just because former greats and current players are earning millions for two months?
While the BCCI has outrageously promoted the IPL, which regularly attracts full houses, they have done little to address the empty stadiums for domestic matches. You can't find a single person watching the Ranji Trophy. This is really a sorry state of India's cricket.
Coming back to the hallowed trio, it is really disappointing to see how they have been victimized. Why should only Laxman and Dravid be axed? Why not Sehwag? It is very clear that you might get a replacement for Dhoni, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir but you won't find Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman's replacements. If any of our former stars or the BCCI believe that we have such replacement ready, then can they please show us who they are?
We should stop blaming Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman for India's debacle in Australia and get to the root of the problem. There has never been another Don Bradman, and the same rule will apply to Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. The cricketing world may have seen the magical Indian trio for the last time on a foreign soil. It is sad that it has been so damning.