CLOSE-IN: Indian cricket lovers left devasted and fuming

India’s defeat in the World Test Championship (WTC) 2023 Final against Australia has quite understandably made their ardent supporters fume with rage. One felt that this was a golden opportunity for Indian cricket to finally win an ICC Trophy after a decade of anxiously waiting for one.

India’s defeat in the World Test Championship (WTC) 2023 Final against Australia has quite understandably made their ardent supporters fume with rage. One felt that this was a golden opportunity for Indian cricket to finally win an ICC Trophy after a decade of anxiously waiting for one.

Unfortunately, the enormous wealth, adulation and following that Indian cricket attracts, somehow, seems to blind one to the actual fact of where one honestly stands. One admires positivity, however, the world around us has shown that ignoring reality is a flaw which has brought even large corporate houses to their knees. A cupboard bare of a world cricket trophy, when one feels Indian cricket is flourishing, truly reflects our cricket and cricketers.

If one compares the team when India played New Zealand in the inaugural WTC Final in 2021 in England to the present one that played Australia, the top five batters were exactly the same and two of the bowlers were as well. India did miss a beat by not including R. Ashwin in the playing XI but how could one drop the leading wicket-taker of the World Test cycle is a matter one fails to fathom or understand.

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This itself shows that Indian cricket has remained basically at a standstill in the last four years. With a cupboard full of talented cricketers, one can gauge that either the youngsters are not up to the mark or, as an Indian outfit, we are reluctant to change.

India opting for four fast bowlers on a cloudy first day morning and deciding to field first showed that India was playing safe. Several of the Indian sides had suffered in such heavy and clouded conditions in the past.

The scare of repeating that mistake and the uncertainty of tackling it due to lack of practice must have rankled in the mind of the Indian think-tank. Furthermore, India fell victim to the English weather predictions, expecting gloomy and rainy days ahead, which unfortunately for them, went completely awry.

In both the World Test Championship finals, India lost to a better side, which was more planned and prepared as well as mentally stronger. The perennial excuse of the Indian side that one hears after a defeat, of the loss being on account of one bad session or one incident should henceforth, be put to rest. The fans and followers of Indian cricket want success and unfortunately, they have not been able to bask in it for quite a while.

This brings one to the controversial decision of Shubman Gill’s dismissal through a catch taken in the slip cordon by Cameron Green. The debate on its authenticity or not made one feel that India would have won the match if it had gone in Gill’s favour. A 444-run chase in the second innings of a Test match was gigantic and had never been accomplished before. The importance of drawing the match was more prudent than chasing as one says, “the mountain of light”.

Tony Grieg, the famous cricketer and commentator, many years ago had done an experiment when the DRS was initially introduced. He held a ball with his fingers underneath it and rested his hand on the turf. The camera’s output showed that the ball was touching the turf even though it was safely entrenched in his palm and fingers. This was a flaw which he felt could spell problems in the future. How right he was!

The catch was taken very cleanly. Green rested his hand on the turf and with his fingers underneath, there was no chance of the ball touching the ground. The ball is round and not one that when held firmly could penetrate the gap between one’s fingers. If so, then it would have spilled out, especially, due to his body movement. Referring to it as cheating truly defuses the spirit of the game.

The DRS may not be completely accurate at times, one is aware of that, however, it has brought in fairness and consistency by and large.

In the present world, money is what signifies one’s success. Indian cricket can be proud of having achieved that. However, it is the cricket on the field rather than the newly-constructed cricket stadiums that showcases success. The money that is distributed to the various cricket establishments and associations by the BCCI rarely reaches the ground level of cricket and cricketers, that is school, club and college cricket. Private academies have mushroomed at every corner to fulfil the huge demand that cricket as a sport has created. The rags-to-riches stories of many of the newly crowned cricket stars have made the sport into a magnetic attraction.

The BCCI has reaped the benefits from the craze for cricket, as cricketers have come through without a proper academy or structure laid down by them. Earlier one had the excuse of lack of funds to put such a cricket structure into place, however, rather than putting up stadiums that are empty most of the year-round, an effort to erect proper junior cricket academies would be more beneficial.

The business and corporate houses in India have benefitted from the IIMs and IITs. Indian cricket has not ploughed its wealth to have institutions that can impart skills, teach, train and certify one in every aspect of the game.

Cricket in India is now a full-time profession and a cricketer is immersed in it from a very young age. Education, therefore, plays an insignificant part if one is to take the sport up seriously. The BCCI, therefore, needs to establish cricket schools around India with both sports and academics in mind.

Indian cricket requires a massive change, both on and off the field. The time is ripe for it, however, with five months to go for the ODI World Cup at home and a selection committee without a Chairman for quite a while, a change does not seem immediately imminent.

Guess time will diffuse our anger and rage. After all, we are like that only.

-IANS

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