Strengthen the foundation

India’s failures in Tests were attributed subtly to Kohli’s failures.-AP

A thorough overhaul of the system at the grass root level needs to be done in order to ensure a steady supply of quality cricketers.

Team India has salvaged some pride with a couple of convincing victories in the one-day series against England at the time of writing. That the difference between the two sides in this format is wide enough doesn’t come into the equation given the battering Team India received in the Tests. It does take character to bounce back, but these victories cannot completely overshadow the lacklustre performances overseas in Tests. While the players need to do a lot of soul searching and work on the game, the media and the administration need to get rid of the individual centric attitude.

The team needs to be the be all and end all if India needs to be consistent at the top level. In the wake of a poor showing, everyone spends overtime to find a scapegoat. On the other hand, a good performance in a game or two is deemed as the ultimate. For example, India’s failures in Tests were attributed subtly to Kohli’s failures and Raina’s success has supposedly infused a collective enthusiasm overnight! Come on, such profound statements in defeat and victory do not really speak of objectivity.

The obsession to either run down or elevate an individual to the skies has also contributed to the malady at times. Unfortunately, this has not changed despite decades passing by. I remember an individual suggesting to an upset captain that the team in its entirety needs to share the blame and not an individual only ended up losing his place in the next series! This happened a couple of decades ago and since then a lot has changed, but the core thought process remains the same.

The time has come for players to be held accountable, as they are encouraged to the maximum in every respect. The practice of asking the players while appointing coaches should be dispensed with first up. Appointment of coaches based on consensus of players will only serve to make the selected candidate feel obligated towards them. How will this allow him to execute his job in an objective and ruthlessly professional manner?

In as much as the players’ financials are looked after as they ought to be, it is equally important for them to be pulled up if they are not up to scratch. Unfortunately, the euphoria of the World Cup triumph in 2011 led to the negligence of preparing the bench strength. As things stand today, the selectors do not have enough options to replace the ones who have failed to perform. In addition, the tendency to reward some players based on a few performances at the right time has proved to be detrimental as well.

A thorough overhaul of the system at the grass root level needs to be done in order to ensure a steady supply of quality cricketers. The intent to do so is expressed in the most vociferous of terms by one and all every time Team India does badly, but nothing gets done in reality. Hopefully, changes will be brought around at least now, after the dismal performances in the last few series abroad. There have been dismal performances in the past as well, but it has not been allowed to continue for long.

Every nation is definitely formidable at home, but Team India lacked an element of competitiveness in the last few tours. This is definitely a great cause for concern and it has to be addressed with a persistence bordering on obsession. The BCCI has two highly experienced people in charge of cricket affairs and the ball is in their court to doggedly pursue ways and means to strengthen the foundation of Indian cricket, which is the first class level. Monitoring first class cricket and doing the appropriate things to lift the standard will take non-stop efforts all round. It will be interesting to see what measures are taken and who is given the responsibility.