Following India’s abject surrender to England for the second time in a row, at Kolkata, former India captain Rahul Dravid lambasted the Indian team over the lack of skill and ability of its players. According to ‘The Wall’, while many are blaming the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the team’s downfall in international cricket, the reality is that our players, at present, just aren’t good enough to represent the country at the international level, and considering the state of domestic cricket, they will take many more years to improve their all-round performance.
India have been extremely lucky over the last decade to have had exceptionally talented players in the form of Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman playing in the same Test eleven. And while the first two are still around things have changed dramatically from, say, five years ago. Following the retirement of Ganguly, India continued to dominate sides at home, but the skills of Dravid and Laxman waned over the years, and by the time they arrived in Australia, both were well past their prime. The same can be said of Tendulkar and Sehwag as well, but for some reason both are still part of the team.
In spite of their failures in recent years, it has to be admitted that the above-mentioned trio played a major part in India’s rise to the top in the last decade. However, it is also a fact that players like Tendulkar and Sehwag come once in a generation. They rose through the ranks in spite of the system and not because of it. Now that Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly are gone and Sehwag and Tendulkar’s careers are on their last legs, at least we believe so, India are struggling for reasons quite obvious.
Replacing big names like Dravid and Tendulkar will take time no doubt, but as Dravid accurately pointed out, a proper process has to be in place for that. We cannot sit back and hope for new Dravids, Tendulkars and Laxmans to just pop out of domestic cricket. The last decade of Indian cricket enjoyed a honeymoon period of sorts since we were lucky to have so many big names playing for the team at the same time. That period is over. The Indian team’s struggle in the years preceding the golden era and at present reopens all flaws in our domestic cricket.
The only way forward, as again pointed out by Dravid, is by having more India A teams going abroad and testing themselves in all conditions. Remember, Cheteshwar Pujara has honed his skills as much on A tours as in domestic games. Had he not played so many games away from home, he might not have developed the aptitude the play big knocks in Test cricket. Dravid’s approval of the academy system must also be considered seriously. The men in charge of Indian cricket know what’s ailing the sport. They have all the resources in the world. Hopefully, they can play their much-desired role in taking Indian cricket forward.
--By A Cricket Analyst