Our professionals are accountable

One of the main reasons for our loss in the semifinals was a complete lack of communication amongst our players. Whilst the Australian batsmen, through their innings, kept boosting each other on the pitch and managed to get 328, our professionals failed to communicate and crumbled, writes Saad bin Jung.

India didn’t lose, we were pounded! The problem is not in the loss, but in the way we lost. We surrendered and displayed a complete lack of backbone, spirit and application. It hurts terribly, for through this World Cup we were not inferior to Australia.

On a television channel, I let my guard down and let my disappointment show. I backed my logic with undeniable facts, believing that the team did not perform to its best in the last two games. Many questions were raised, some went down well and some didn’t. Much needs to be debated until we have answerability established once and for all.

Let me start with what many an expert said, that India lost to a better side. Let’s stick with this World Cup in order to keep the comparison up to date. Let’s not dwell in the past, as the debate can go into an unlimited past which does no good. The thing to remember is that we were a changed team in this World Cup. Until the semis, our top batsmen had got more runs than the Australians had. Two of our players had aggregated 300-plus runs, and Rohit was close at 296. Only Warner was at 301. Our top bowlers had more wickets than the Aussie bowlers, with Starc being the lone ranger heading the chart. Both Mohit and Yadav had more scalps than Johnson and Hazlewood. The hosts didn’t have a spinner, we had Ashwin and Jadeja. The Aussies were psyched out about our spin and had to get Warne to bowl in the nets.

We were on a high. The juggernaut was rolling. We had more points on the table. We remained unbeaten until the semis. The Aussies had lost. All this proves to me that through this World Cup at least, we were better until the disaster in Sydney.

One of the main reasons for our loss in the semifinals was a complete lack of communication amongst our players. Whilst the Australian batsmen, through their innings, kept boosting each other on the pitch and managed to get 328, our professionals failed to communicate and crumbled. Had we communicated like the Aussies, the non-striker would have pointed out to Shikhar Dhawan that there was a deep extra-cover and not to play the cover drive in the air. Further, he could have told Kohli to relax and not try risky shots initially. Trying to hit a 90-plus mph bouncer angled across by Johnson is a shot that is played only after one is set; it’s far too perilous otherwise. Had the non-striker been in constant discussion with Kohli, he certainly would not have got out. There were other areas too that showed that we were not communicating.

I said, on air, after the game against Bangladesh, that we were not applying ourselves and that we had lost the zing. The boys were not in the zone and something was amiss. I didn’t say it after the semifinals but before and hoped the think tank would have addressed the issue. The team had to be one unified, solid, fighting force if it had to beat Australia. Many an example of where the team slacked can be shown. This attitude is not right. It makes one believe that there was a lack of application on the part of the think tank and the players. The shots that a few of the lads played further ratify this point.

The players of today are professionals, and are responsible for their actions. When the players were amateurs, like my uncle (Nawab M. A. K. Pataudi) or my grandfather (Nawab I. A. K. Pataudi), they were paid between Rs. 5 and 20 a day for playing Test cricket. They played solely for the love of the game and not the money. When they lost, it mattered of course, but as they were amateurs, all was forgiven as long as they took part in the gentleman’s sport called cricket.

When the players became professionals and started signing contracts and getting large sums of money — to the tune of crores from the BCCI — things changed. The players are now responsible and answerable for their actions, and if they show a lack of negligence, application or dedication and lose a game in the manner we did in the semifinals, a billion people suffer. So, should they not be held responsible? People must realise that in order to make one Tendulkar, Kohli or Dhoni it takes lakhs of cricketers to sacrifice their lives and get nothing in return.

Their parents spend large sums in taking them to coaching academies and buying their gear etc. Whilst the BCCI pays crores to the professionals, it does not pay anything to these budding players who love the game to death and have dedicated their life to cricket, but have not managed to play first-class cricket. Further, the BCCI does not give pension if one has not played at least 25 first-class matches. Morally, this puts the onus on the professionals to not only respect each and every cricket lover, but also remain answerable to every cricket fan that has made him a super star.

The BCCI is a monopoly that needs to be broken and an alternate system established. But for now, it’s necessary to introspect, place blame and take people to task.

If we don’t do it now, the super star will never be answerable and will forever remain a player who cares little for the billion-plus fans that made him what he is. And we, the fans, will continue to suffer.