Indian cricket's end of an era

Indian team members attend the presentations after Australia won the fourth cricket Test match against India making a clean sweep of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Series at the Adelaide Oval on January 28, 2012. India have lost eight overseas Tests in a row

All good things have to come to an end - but the end in Adelaide over the weekend was brutal.

India were routed in an overseas cricket Test for the eighth time in a row - four by an innings and two by more than 290 runs. The team's fabled batting line-up, stuffed with ageing legends, lay in ruins, mowed down by a bunch of terrific young Australian speedsters. The Adelaide annihilation came on a flat track holding no terrors.

The last time Indian cricket went through a similar ordeal was back in the 1960s, when they lost 17 overseas games on the trot.

Adelaide marked, as cricket writer Sharda Ugra wrote in a fine epitaph, a funereal end to Indian cricket's greatest era. A "decade of progress was signed off with staggering paucity of performance".

India managed to pass 300 runs only twice in the past 16 Test innings in England and Australia. This from a team in which four batsmen - Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag - have an incredible 45,611 runs between them. (It didn't help that their wayward bowlers picked up only 93 wickets in the two series, while England and Australia picked up all of the 160 Indian wickets in eight Tests.)

That the outstanding middle-order would walk into the sunset one day was expected. But it was still painful to witness the fading of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and to a lesser extent Sachin Tendulkar in a Test series where India capitulated without a resemblance of a fight.

"The future has already arrived and kicked down the door," writes Ugra. "What it finds on the other side, representing Indian cricket, is merely uncertainty."


That is what is truly worrying. India's prolific domestic cricket is played on dull, flat tracks, which make most of its batsmen vulnerable to the moving ball and bouncy pitches overseas. India's obsession with stars, as former Australian captain Ian Chappell argues, makes it difficult for selectors and the captain to do some straight talking to the legends.

Drunk on the riches of the Indian Premier League, India's shortsighted cricket authorities - and selectors - appear to have no succession plan in place for the batting greats, or a road map for how India can become an competitive away team.

Laxman and Dravid, proud sportsmen both, may well announce their retirement sooner than expected. Tendulkar is not expected to play for very long either. Virender Sehwag is looking a pale shadow of his imperious past, and the talented Gautam Gambhir is hesitant. MS Dhoni, who led India to a fabulous World Cup win last year, appears to have lost interest in the longer format of the game.

India's next away series comes only at the end of 2013, and the time to bring fresh blood is now.

First it needs to snap out of its denial mode. India's rich and upstart young cricketers said the team's failures in England and Australia were nothing to be embarrassed about - "after all, it is only a game", one said - and that the team would return to their winning ways on the slow trundlers that India prepare at home.

Cricket, like most things in shining India, is marked by hubris, cronyism, conflict of interest, and many such moral conflicts. So don't expect any searing and transparent post-mortem of the team's performance, or a sensible plan for the future. It will be a rocky road ahead.

Soutik Biswas, Delhi correspondent Article written by Soutik Biswas Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The problem with Indians and cricket is that,it is almost always about cricket and nothing else ,for God's sake it's just a game!,stop making such fuss about it,the players are unnecessarily under pressure all the time,let them do their best,the more you make fuss about it ,the more they lose.The media is also responsible,the headlines/breaking news in Indian newschannels is always about cricket!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Majority of the blame needs to go to the BCCI. The only thing they care about is making money, more for themselves than for Indian cricket. No matter who retires or not things cannot improve unless youngsters are made to play domestic cricket on fast bouncy pitches. Surely those are not difficult to prepare. They have the money to do it but what is lacking is the will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Mr Biswas is inexplicably too kind in his comments. The era of this bunch of geriatric cricketers ended quite some time back. The reflexes had pathologically slowed and eyesight dimmed beyond relief but the cricketing pundits of the Indian establishment including the selectors, the commentators and journalists refused to acknowledge the manifest.

    Instant culling is needed.

    A disgrace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It is honestly hard to comprehend why nobody was worried. After all, the team got whitewashed in England! If you can get run over by a mediocare team like England, then you must be really bad. Why the surprise at the mauling in Australia? Indian teams have traditionally returned from overseas tours with tails tucked between their legs. The Ganguly-era was an aberration, that's all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    It is indeed the end of an era!

    The great batsmen, who have amassed in excess of 46,000 runs amongst themselves, will now have to pull down the curtain on their illustrious careers and ride off into the sunset.

    They have delighted crowds around the world with their amazing batsmanship. Like all greats, they will be missed. May the legendary Sachin T, gets that elusive ton before he departs.


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