Time has come for India to show the way

PTI

Dhoni (below) is aware of the fact that a team garners more points by doing well in Test matches and now is the time for India to play as many Tests as possible before the big guns exit from the stage.

The Indian stars have re-assembled for the tri-series in Bangladesh after spending the festive season with their families. The break would have recharged the players and they will be raring to go. And given their recent form, Team India will start as the favourite.

However, the host nation has the habit of upsetting the apple cart on a given day while Sri Lanka is always a formidable side in the ODIs. Hence one can look forward to an absorbing series of matches but it will be interesting to see how the pitches in Bangladesh behave.

Generally they are batsman-friendly but at times the spinners have called the shots as well. Talking of pitches, the BCCI was subjected to a fair share of embarrassment in the last few days of the bygone year when the Kotla one-dayer was abandoned because of poor pitch condition.

This glitch could have been avoided and especially in a year when a lot of things went India’s way. The sacking of the pitches committee was done in a blink of an eye but at the end of the day, the pitches are best left to the groundsmen who have been working day in and day out for decades.

They toil hard and are aware of what needs to be done but their inability to put down things on paper in a flamboyant manner has proved to be their nemesis. It is something similar to the older generation of women who can’t write books on cookery but can churn out the most delicious of dishes by sheer experience.

While it is not possible to be spot-on in terms of predicting how the soil will react in alien conditions, the theory of preparing pitches with clay even in places like Chennai and Bengaluru, where the red soil was predominant, has consistently boomeranged.

Besides, it is impossible for anyone to be present at the venue just three days prior to the match and get things into shipshape. I had written on the poor quality of pitches in one of my earlier columns and what happened at the Kotla was not a surprise to me at all. The price was heavy and the lessons learnt would hopefully make the concerned people wiser. Now that the pitches committee is disbanded, it remains to be seen if the groundsmen are left to their own devices in the future.

The BCCI will no doubt address the problem regarding the pitches in due course, but it will be of great interest to the players and followers of the game to see if India plays more number of Tests this year.

The schedule of matches between India and South Africa was revised a couple of times to accommodate a couple of Tests but after that series the Indians will have more of the shorter format right through the year.

The skipper and the players are keen on playing more Tests as they rightly deem that they cannot be denied the opportunity of retaining or vying for the top slot because of the schedule. Dhoni is aware of the fact that a team garners more points by doing well in Test matches and now is the time for India to play as many Tests as possible before the big guns exit from the stage.

From a personal angle, it will be difficult for the Dravids and Laxmans to come to terms with the fact that they will play just six Tests in a year. Then of course, the FTP cannot be fixed to cater to the needs of some players in the circuit but a right mix will ensure that Test cricket survives in the long run.

The BCCI is normally accused by the foreign media of using its money power but one must remember that the Board has been the first to voice opinions strongly while the other apex bodies sat on the fence.

Similarly, the time has come for India to show the way by playing more Tests and if the cynics find something to moan about, so be it. Already the BCCI has convinced the South African board to sneak in a couple of Tests in their forthcoming trip to India and if all the countries can agree on a right mix of Tests and ODIs at least in cases of bilateral tours, then it becomes that much easier.

Much as the spectators are perceived as preferring shorter versions of the game, the current generation of players are gradually leaning towards the shorter formats as well. We are seeing a lot of premature retirements of international stars from Tests though they are available for the IPL! It is easy for the foreign media to see IPL as a great distraction, but the ICC needs to come on strongly and get all the nations to play more of Tests in the future.