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India's enemy is within

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They didn’t train well, they didn’t bat well, they didn’t bowl well, they didn’t field well and the list goes on playing the blame game for India’s second consecutive disastrous tour. First England exposed India’s ‘on paper’ strong but on field fragile batting, now an under-renovation Australian side has just steamrolled the former No. 1 Test side.
 
While the fact remains that the winner comes out of the game played on the field, here it seems that off the field management has been a big question mark. Now this doesn’t only mean that the coaches and support staff are coming out a cropper, lot has been said about big money-piling but grass-root ignoring ways of the cricket mandarins of the country.
 
It is hard to fathom that a country with a massive population of 1.2 billion cannot have a more-than-enough talent pool. The core of the issue which many have spoken about earlier is the poor standard of domestic structure. The various trophies, right from Ranji, Irany, Duleep, Cooch Behar, NKP Salve Challenger, Deodhar, Syed Mushtaq Ali, all need a shot in the arm, a nitro boost.
 
The amount of money BCCI has, if a little more, more than what is needed, goes into developing the grass roots, it won’t hurt. If you take out even a bucketful of water from an ocean, it doesn’t make a difference. The money spent right now probably isn’t making a difference.
 
In cricketing terms we are producing only flat-track bullies (read Badrinath, Murali Vijay) and mediocre ‘so-called’ fast bowlers (read R Vinay Kumar, Dhaval Kulkarni etc). How are we going to produce batsmen who can withstand pace and bounce and swing or bowlers who can touch 140+ every ball and consistently hit 150+.
 
Producing sporting tracks and then incentivising result-producing teams at the grass roots should be the top priority. A carrot and stick approach then would do no harm. In Ranji, for instance, the prevailing points system is three points for a first-innings lead and an extra two for an outright win. If a team wins by an innings or ten wickets, another extra point is awarded.
 
But why reward mediocrity at all. Teams are basically encouraged for not going an extra yard for an outright win and still earn points. And eventually with the existence of such a system in place, the players, led by the captain, of various teams too don’t show the need to show sense of urgency and shy away from setting up a match. It sounds like an archaic system.
 
Why not even reward the pitch curators who produce sporting wickets. Has anyone thought how much the actual groundsmen (maalis) are paid for the actually carrying the 1 or 1.5 ton rollers, trimming the vast expanse of grass of the grounds.
 
What will then happen is a better pitch will give the bowlers a chance to play cricket and not act like bowling machines. Better outfield will ensure the enthusiastic, upcoming bunch will not fear of getting injured while diving around. While it will be easy to run down the suggestions made as amateurish, but then what we have done till now has produced more than enough amateurish players too.
 
Australia, like England earlier, outplayed India in all departments throughout the series, but India’s problem was India. The Test side has good players but not good fielders. Every great team in the world has always been a brilliant fielding unit. The hustle and bustle in the field manufactures a few run-outs and pressure in the field.
 
This in turn helps bowlers to create more chances and the result is... the world No.1 side collapses and...
If you want to achieve pinnacle in Test cricket, it can’t be done only by getting more teams to play matches against you at home, winning them, earning points and staying on top. The moment the team leaves the Indian shores, they get thrashed to say the least. No wonder, ‘Tigers at home, chickens away’ continues to stay with us. 
 



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