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Calm Down India!

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7 consecutive away Test defeats. Apart from Bangladesh, such results would shock any nation, even the loyal-most set of fans and any set of media persons. Indian fans love cricket and our cricketers so much that disappointment and outrage from their side is understandable. Every other day we see media talking about cricketers, retirements, dropping someone, rumors and post-mortems of the defeats. No doubt change is needed. The present combination has failed badly and some hard decisions need to be made. But, it does not mean that we start criticizing the players for just anything. 

One day before the Perth test, tweets about players having lunch/dinner with their family were doing the rounds on twitter. Training hard is a must and there should be no compromising here. However I can’t see any reason for questioning their need to spend some time with their families. When you as professionals are underperforming in your job due to some reason, does your boss ask you not to go home at all and instead keep working all the time? Of course not! Similarly, these cricketers are professionals who have their right to live their own personal life. We must learn to draw a line and know where to stop.
 
Similar was the case with go-karting jokes. Yes, some of players of Indian team went for go-karting but how is it wrong as a break? Their job is to practice and prepare for the next match but who doesn’t need some time-off? I am not justifying Ishant Sharma flipping the bird but you sure as hell can’t justify getting angry over go-karting. 
 
A few years back, when India was doing miserable while Australia was on top of the ratings, people started to talk about how India has too many states in its domestic tournament, the Ranji Trophy. Talks of narrowing it down to 5 or 10 teams to ‘make cricket more competitive like in Australia’ were doing the rounds. Similarly, recently people including the likes of Harsha Bhogle have talked about changing around the domestic structure.

While there are certain flaws in the current system, I do not see why decreasing the number of teams is necessary. Mr. Bhogle talks about reducing the number of teams to 12 and remove the lesser talented teams assuming that no one ever gets selected by them. This in my view is a very wrong assumption. Not only is there talent which gets noticed, but teams from the plate division have gone on to do well. Rajasthan is a prime example; they have now won the title twice in succession in spite of starting in the plate division last year. 

Talents like Ashok Menaria, Rituraj Singh and Pankaj Singh are being noticed. In fact, three talented youngsters that have been selected for the Indian team, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Jaydev Unadkat come from Saurashtra, which too was a team that started out in the plate division. Not to forget, India’s best wicket keeper batsman comes from Jharkhand. This season, Haryana under Amit Mishra’s leadership managed to reach the Semi-Finals. Their fast bowler Harshal Patel got an IPL contract right away for a tremendous first season. 

So to look for the best, we must not look amongst the best teams, but among all teams and give each one of them a good chance to compete. I firmly believe that the two-tier system is right way to go ahead. Quality of domestic pitches and some rules such as the first innings lead rule could be changed, but the system overall need not be disturbed.

Even if the BCCI and the selection panel continue to trust the seniors of the team, the period of transition is going to start sooner rather than later. Dravids, Tendulkars, Laxmans won’t be around forever and it will be an end of a terrific era in India’s cricketing history. Of course, some better results would have gone long way in giving them these legends a fitting farewell.

However, country must be put ahead of individuals, no matter how great they are and youngsters need to blooded in. Indian cricket has a lot of talent, both with the bat and the ball. Many might say that bowling-wise India is not that blessed. While I cannot disagree completely, there is no doubt that our bowling, fast bowling in particular is gradually improving. Youngsters like Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Jaydev Unadkat, Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth are way better than Dodda Ganesh or Tinu Yuhanan of past. In times ahead, we will see these talents either rise under pressure or succumb to it. Either way, some exciting times are to come.
Media will react to results but that’s their job. When the youngsters come in, the selectors must give them time and allow them to settle in. Insecurity will not help the country or the players. India must not make the same mistake that Sri Lanka has committed. After the retirement of the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, the

Lankans kept changing their bowling attack hoping to find someone of his caliber. 
Instead, making the best out of the resources would have made more sense. The Lankan batting should have shouldered more responsibility to help the lesser experienced attack. A new strategy to win matches would have been better. India rose to number 1 on the back of a rock-solid batting line-up. So, when the big 3 move out, instead of looking for someone to replace them, India should expect the bowling to share more of the workload. 
 
The fans will be affected no doubt, and they too need to be patient. The whole of India needs to calm down a little. Results will not come within a fortnight but if handled well, a path to a steady future can be laid. Pakistan are doing well with a young team, why can’t we? People may stop hoping anything from the team, but with talent that India possesses, there is no reason why we can’t go back to winning ways. 
 


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