Well, As of now. We quite simply don’t. Take it with a pinch of salt. But it is so true. Yes we have more than 30000 Test runs in our middle order. We have a spinner with more than 400 Test scalps and a pace trio capable of troubling any batting lineup and to top it all, a world conquering captain. Indeed, all the qualities of a top team. Then what seems to be the reason? To answer this rather complicated question let’s look at the current contender to the top slot, the England Team and its scheme of things.
While our Indian Superstars jumped directly into the IPL mayhem after a hectic and grueling World Cup(they didn’t even get the opportunity to bask in the glory of their amazing triumph), the English players opted to stay out of the IPL and give their bodies the much needed Recovery period, something which the Indian players wish for by skipping International commitments. The Indian team badly missed its famed ‘Viru-Gauti’ opening partnership. Yes injuries are part and parcel of any Sportsman’s Career but it is important to remember here that Sehwag opted to have the surgery on his shoulder (which by the way was long overdue) only when his IPL team had been knocked completely out of contention. Gambhir on the other hand skipped the Windies tour to overcome an injury suffered during the IPL and looked awfully short of Match practice. As was the case with the pace spearhead Zaheer it seems quite amazing how none of them cared to rest even for a single IPL match.
A tag that has long been attached to the Indian team. But how long can a team be the numero-uno of world cricket if it continues to hand the initial advantage to its opponents just like that, over and over again. Again we need to look at how the England Team prepared when it toured Australia for the Ashes series last year. They landed there a good month before the first test and went on to play 3 practice games and got themselves Battle ready before going to war. No wonder, they did not just win the Ashes. They hammered the Aussies, 3-1 something improbable for us to achieve that to with just a leisurely 3 day warm up game.
It would be completely unfair just to blame the players for their decisions though(wrong as they may appear). The scheduling of the Indianteam’s tours is something the BCCI takes care of (not).The Sehwags and the Gambhirs are auctioned for millions before the IPL and naturally they feel a moral obligation not to leave their franchisee in the lurch even if it means risking their International Careers. And not only the BCCI. Do we, the Indian viewers, deserve a side that is No 1? Don’t remember the last time we had a full house in any test match featuring India at home. And again, the English public pours in large numbers to pack the stadiums, even if
it turns out to be a frustrating rain delayed day. The News Channel hires experts from Foreign Countries to analyze each IPL game 5 times a day, but for the test matches, well the good old Indian Ranji players would do.
Coming back to the Indian Team, yes, it has been outplayed so far in the series and probably would be outplayed in the remaining of the matches as well (which I so dearly hope is not the case but that’s just an optimist Cricket crazy Indian),what it should look at is something our Captain Cool so often talks about and that is his often repeated ”It’s not about the result, it’s about the process” The Team needs to get its act together and its got to do it quickly. No more hiding the injuries (resulting in break downs on the first morning of a match) No more hiding behind the Poor Starters Tag and most of all it has to get its priorities right. Are we happy of being the ODI Champions and possessing a cash rich Cricket league that further strengthens our control on World Cricket? Do we just want to bask in the glory of once being the World Champions or do we believe that we can go on to become the Great team that once Australia was in the era of McGrath and Warne? Well, we have got the perfect team to be so but do we have the attitude or for that matter the passion to be the best “TEST” side?