08 February 2008

India will be world test champions next year

Over the years, we have seen overseas series after overseas series in which either the batting has crumbled on fast bouncy tracks, or the bowling has doled out runs like a man in a Santa suit on Christmas (sounds very Siddhuish doesn’t it!). The good news is that in the recent past we have seen a gradual halt being brought to this travesty, and to some extent a reversal, with several of our current stars boasting better overseas records than domestic ones.

With the solidity of the middle order finally translating into confident runs oozing of the middle of the bat, we have put up big enough scores on grounds across the world. Wins in South Africa, England and the WACA are evidence of the prowess of our fab four. With Sehwag back in the team and getting runs and the undoubted class of Jaffer at the top, the first 6 look a nightmarish proposition for any bowling attack. With the recently found doggedness of Dhoni, the ungainly grit of Kumble and the dash of madness in Harbhajan, Zaheer and Arpy, we finally have a batting order (and wonder of wonders, a tail) that can, does and will continue to regularly contribute around the world.

However, the success story lies more in the bowling than in the batting. Unheard of developments in the fast bowling department (a lot of which is courtesy the stellar efforts of the MRF pace academy) are aggressively swinging the balance of power in favour of India. With Zaheer and Arpy (and for the faithful, Sreesanth) demonstrating their mastery over the almost lost art of swing bowling, and Munaf and Ishant demonstrating the all so difficult to face seam bowling, recent stars such as Balaji are finding it impossible to break into the team. With Praveen Kumar and his colleagues hammering on the doors of selection, it is only the collective might of the broad shoulders of our current bowling that is keeping them out. To add to the woes of any batting side facing this attack, there is the daunting challenge of facing and keeping out Kumble, the havoc that Bhajji threatens to wreck, the teasing flight of Pawar and the exciting new talent of Piyush Chawla in the bowling ranks. With options to play with, Kumble, and soon Dhoni, unlike other captains, will have the option and the ability to pick an attack that can regularly knock out 20 wickets in any surface on the world.

The icing on the cake is the development of Pathan as an all rounder, to fill in that vital number 7 slot, when one of the fab 4 vacates the middle order (Ganguly, I hear you say?). A man with a thousand runs and a 100 wickets in international cricket has finally found the mental strength to justify the talent that has never been in doubt. Prodigious swing with the new ball, the ability to defend staunchly and the god given crowd pleasing ability to knock the ball out of the park, he is the quintessential all rounder. Add to that his ability to field and a superb arm, and the only criticism that you are left with is a slight shortage of pace and a tendency to run out of ideas once the shine is off the ball.

In these exciting times, the only cloud on the horizon is the imminent departure of the fab 4 from our sights, whether at their own option or upon the insistence of the media. With them gone, the dream team suddenly looks brittle in the middle order – with Yuvraj failing to step up in Australia, and neither Rohit Sharma nor Manoj Tiwary looking like they can handle the pace, the future of Indian cricket lies in finding men that can fill the shoes of the giants who are about to hang up theirs. Ofcourse, not only will we miss their meditatively patient batting in the middle, we will sorely miss the solidity that each one of them (save Ganguly) provides to the slip cordon – a solidity that has been the hallmark of the greatness of all sides. I, as always hope, that there are atleast three 20 year old guys out there who are about to step up to the plate… Amen.


scorpicity said...

Balaji is still not fit/recovered.. had a very very serious injury... he has to now work on a new action altogether, play some small level matches with limited overs say about 20 to check the strain etc and gradually come up to the state levels... poor guy... injury ruined everything for him.

TM said...

It is a tragedy for Balaji - no doubt about that- but with the way Zaheer, Arpy, Ishant and Sree are bowling, it would have been interesting to see if he would have made the playing 11. Notwithstanding, it is nice to know he is there on the fringes somewhere....

Soulberry said...

Fine article, John.

The key to it is patience, adhereing to the policy and giving sufficient time to reap the harvest.

It is now that BCCI must ensure stronger grassroots development, participation and game....theory and practice of.

They have the money and the role of a visionary is up for grabs.

Golandaaz said...

Will we have enough opportunities to overtake Australia in terms of points? Or are you simply taking the qualitative aspect.

The only problem with India is that for every away win there is an Oval and a Banglore. The fear of losing means we leave points at the table needed to be the world's best team.

I don't believe Indian has it in them to do that.

John said...

Soulberry, that was TM, the "new guy" with stale baccy et al. Great article to start off with, I'd say.

Uncle J rod said...

When India learn to run between wickets, captain and field properly they can become the best team in the world.

That still seems a long way off, and you have alot of players who are passed their best propping up your batting.

So who is to say the next crop of batsmen will come in and perform at this level.