Only hours ago, England triumphed in India for the first time since 1985 and became the first side in eight years to win a series on Indian soil.
While Cook’s England should take all the plaudits on offer (open top bus tours aside), I am of the firm belief that India and particularly the BCCI contributed to their own downfall making a series of fundamental mistakes.
1. Why weren’t England exposed to any quality spin bowling in the warm-up matches?
Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman’s annihilation of England in the UAE perhaps fuelled India and the BCCI’s reasoning behind not exposing England to any quality spin bowling prior to the Test Series. After all, England didn’t exactly disprove their Achilles heel against spin by their unconvincing displays in Sri Lanka.
The result? England’s batsmen may well have been rusty against sub-continent spinners as Ahmedebad proved. Look at KP’s mode of dismissal and rudderless knock. But India meanwhile didn’t give their backup spinners an opportunity to stake a claim for a call up. Instead, Harbhajan Singh was called up despite being a shadow of the world beater in 2001. Similarly, Piyush Chawla got a call in Nagpur despite a domestic average close to fifty this year.
Perhaps India’s spin bowling cupboard is threadbare. Or perhaps this was a major oversight on their part.
2. Why doctor pitches in your own country?
Home advantage is the biggest advantage in Test Cricket. You get the benefit of playing on pitches your players have grown up on and prospered on to get them where they are today. Sure there are variations from ground to ground but the general characteristics of pitches are the same. It makes no sense to produce pitches that are alien to both teams because then you quickly negate the biggest advantage you have.
I’d imagine groundsmen – particularly those over 80 years old – have a better idea of how to produce the best wicket than those sent from above.
Had the stakes not been so high in Nagpur, the fourth test would have gone down as one of the most drab in recent history.
Contrary to popular belief (Virat Kohli is the most outspoken here), I don’t really remember England producing or even doctoring pitches in the 4-0 whitewash back in 2011.
3. You simply cannot have passengers in the field in modern Test Cricket
While England’s fielding in this series was by no means flawless, it was head and shoulders above the Indian team. In a total of around 300 England runs, you’d guestimate in the region of 30-40 additional runs being scored due to sloppy fielding, let alone dropped chances.
When Cook, admittedly not one of England’s most athletic in the field, ran MS Dhoni out on 99, the significance of the gulf was realised.
Whilst Monty Panesar might give the odd run away in the field, you can turn one into two on Tendulkar’s arm as you please. Include Gambhir, Sehwag, Sharma, even the youngsters of Ashwin and Ojha, and you have half a team susceptible to leaking runs.
In Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwa Pujara and Virat Kohli, India have the fielders whose standards need to be met.
4. Getting more right decisions is more important than a project in stubbornness
Sure the BCCI have had their reasons for being indifferent to the DRS, but can they really stand by this decision with so many wrong decisions in this series?
While Alastair Cook got two stinkers from ICC Umpire of the Year Kumar Dharmasena in Nagpur, India didn’t always get the rub of the green in this series and would be better served by DRS in place.
5. Four spinners is too many
Just as England realised they needed two frontline spinners after Ahmedabad, India should have realised that two seamers is equally important for the balance of a side on any pitch. Umesh Yadav was sorely missed due to injury but India made a crucial error deviating from the template that brought them a win and going with four spinners in the fourth Test.
You might think this is just an Englishman sticking the knife in and in some ways it is… but I can’t help but think there needs to be major changes both on and off the field if India is to compete at the top cricket’s toughest format any time soon.
What are your thoughts? Please take a break from PartyCasino.com and share them in the comments below…
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