India lacks tactics

There is a worrying sameness to the Indian bowling and it does not appear to me that there is a plan for each opposing batsman. One-day cricket requires as much tactical bowling as the longer form of the game and the Indians need to revamp their thinking.

In three or four games of the recent one-day series, India had the Australian batsmen on the ropes, but lacked the tactical nous to push for victory. On those occasions India had dismissed four or five Australian batsmen for less than 100.

As the Australians were trying to recover, rather than push for wickets the Indians went completely on the defensive, dropping as many fieldsmen back on to the ropes as possible and placing the inner ring of fieldsmen right on the circle.

This was just what Australia wanted. They have long accepted that picking up singles is the safest and best way to go and took a single off virtually every ball. A situation like this calls not for purely defensive methods, but a plan of containment to restrict the singles and put pressure on the batsmen.

If the Indians had kept their inner ring in and made the Aussie batsmen attack more to break the stranglehold, the pressure would have probably told on them and resulted in indiscreet shots.

As it was the Aussie batsmen picked up singles at will and with the pressure back on the Indians, more and more loose balls were available.

There is a worrying sameness to the Indian bowling and it does not appear to me that there is a plan for each opposing batsman. One-day cricket requires as much tactical bowling as the longer form of the game and the Indians need to revamp their thinking.

While 20/20 is a slather and whack game at present and the reduced overs call for extra risks, the ODIs have been around for a long time and accepted tactics to suit each bowler should be the norm. Unfortunately, India at present haven’t got the balance right between attack and defence.

I just wonder if in their desire to appear more aggressive and to take the attack to the Aussies, the Indians have lost their way. It is fine to be mentally aggressive, but being physically aggressive as they are attempting now is not the Indian way.

To me success is achieved utilising the natural characteristics of the player and the country. India play best when they are controlled and less emotional.

I have no doubt that India’s performance against Australia was badly affected by their obvious change in direction. Being confrontational has blurred their thinking and badly affected their control of both mind and application of tactics.

India have achieved most of their success by playing the Indian way and not trying to adopt a style contrary to their natural style and thinking. If India are to challenge more in the one-day game they must plan their tactics better.

They certainly have the natural skills to be competitive in all forms of the game, but in the one-dayers at present they seldom seem to be controlled and thinking clearly in all situations.

They would certainly be better off if they separate the ODIs from the 20/20 game.

The ODIs have been around for a long time now and many countries, at least those who are consistently doing well, have found the best way for them to succeed.

20/20 is in its infancy and at this stage no clear format has been decided or what is the best way to go about it for consistent success. India, with their natural flair with the bat, have done exceptionally well in the 20/20s, while their ODI results have dramatically fallen away.

There are a few points that worry me greatly about the one-day game and they are the lack of bowling tactics, the loss of variety with the ball, the inability to bowl accurately and the incredible wastage with wides and no balls.

One-day cricket should be a reasonably simple game. Unfortunately, at present, the players are allowing pressure to affect both their batting and bowling. All cricket is a ball by ball game whether it is ODI, 20/20 or Test. The only ball you should have to worry about is the one you are about to receive, for that is the one you could get out to.

One of the other areas that worries me, in both forms of the game, is the reduction in the size of the boundaries. It is becoming quite ridiculous and in the last six months in all cricket I have seen boundaries that are hardly 50 yards in distance.

Whether this has come from a direction of the ICC or local groundsmen or officials, I do not know. I feel it is probably done in the desire to allow batsmen to obtain bigger scores, and hit more 4s and 6s.

The 20/20 matches in South Africa were quite ridiculous and embarrassing with boundaries far too short. It was made even worse in the high altitude towns and cities such as Johannesburg, where the thin air makes the ball fly further. If something is not done about this then we’ll see the spinners being used less and less.

One of the great pleasures to me has always been to watch the ground outfields run 20 or 30 yards to take catches on the boundary or to see strong-arm outfielders hurl the ball in from the fence 70 or 80 yards away.

On shortened boundaries the fieldsmen haven’t the time to run even 10 or 15 yards as the ball flies to the fence. Great running, with batsmen taking 3s or 4s will also shortly be a thing of the past.

Numerous times we have heard commentators saying, ‘it is huge,’ or ‘it has gone a mile,’ ‘what a fantastic hit’ only to see the ball scrape over the boundary line for a 6. In earlier eras, it would have been caught 20 yards or so inside the boundary fence.

In almost all forms of cricket on the big Australian grounds, the boundary ropes can be 30 yards in from the fence. Little wonder then that the spinners are being driven out of the limited forms of cricket.

It is sad and depressing to see batsmen being done in flight and mistiming the ball, but still clearing the ropes. It is not fair to the bowler and is certainly not in the better interests of cricket.