BCCI needs to rap on the knuckles of those not falling in line

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the selection committee needs to be complimented for backing captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher despite losing eight overseas Test matches in a row in England and Australia. Dhoni led India to victory in the home series against New Zealand and averted threat to his job as a leader.

The Sandeep Patil-chaired selection committee has fully been generous in their support for Dhoni and backed his strategy of denying the Englishmen practice against quality spinners before the start of the Test series. The selectors also provided the personnel Dhoni had faith in to perform on pitches that he was demanding, and expected the curators to provide rank turners from Day One of the Tests.

I remember reading an interview of Mr. Narayana Murthy, the visionary founder of IT giant Infosys. Giving insight of the work ethics at Infosys, Mr Murthy said, when the directors of Infosys meet for making policy decisions, strategy planning, or for any important discussions, they have difference of opinions, have arguments and ideas of individuals are challenged and dissected. But at the end of meeting, the better of the ideas is chosen, with due respect to individual thinking. The idea agreed upon becomes the common goal, with each individual working hard, moving in the same direction, giving off their best for the idea to succeed. That requires mental discipline and team work. Success is shared and fingers are not pointed, in case of failure.

I wonder if something similar happened before the ongoing series against England with regard to the strategy formed by Dhoni, Fletcher and the team think tank. The strategy communicated to the team members to be prepared for the tough series and to redeem the humiliation suffered in England by Team India. From what one read in the media before the start of the Test series, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli vigorously endorsed Dhoni’s plan of taking advantage of the home’s team’s prerogative to make wickets that suited the home team and prepare rank turners. The selectors supported the strategy and expected the players Dhoni backed to implement the team plan.

There is a saying, ‘Those who live by the sword, die by the sword’. I hope Dhoni and his team have heard or read that saying after decimated by England on the home turfs of Mumbai and Kolkata. The reason for India’s failure could either be because complacency has crept into their game or because of sheer arrogance and over-confidence that led them to be under-prepared.

Did everyone in this Indian team work hard on honing their skills to be battle-ready? Were they like the great warrior Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra? Was the focus of all individuals on the team’s goal? Was the team prepared mentally, physical and skill wise to be battle-ready before the series?

Supporters of Team India would like to know the answers to these gnawing questions. If each and every member of the Team India stands in front of the mirror, answers that they did, I am sure Indian cricket fan will credit the Englishmen for their commendable performance on overseas soil and will not be hard on Indian team.

Fresh blood needs to be inducted into the team to learn. The youngsters need to be groomed under battle-scarred greats. Unlike in other sports, BCCI’s has laudably pampered their cricketers. But, in the larger interest of the team, the BCCI could do well to give a rap on the knuckles of those who don’t fall in line.

Indian cricket has had a precipitous fall; it has lost on the seaming pitches in England, bouncing tracks in Australia and now turning tracks at home. It seems to be an extended hangover of over-exposure to overs-limit cricket, played on flat pitches with predictable line and length, no pressure of slip fielders or close catchers. But Test cricket is real cricket; it does not show mercy to reputation and past performances. What matters is the present.