Mission 2011 World Cup: Wrong Path?

The Indian ODI side has lost another battle to Mendis. I’d written them off even before a single ball was bowled in the series. Soulberry is postively miffed and strangely I thought they should have been doing exactly what SB suggests.

But the anxiety and emotion isn’t just about this series. It is about the so-called mission to win the World Cup in 2011.

While there is value in the vision itself (I do have some reservations on the over-emphasis that the World Cup is getting, but I’ll save that for another day), for some time now it has taken precedence to common sense. I think the selectors and us, the serious-Indian-cricket followers, have mostly overreacted to the T20 victory. Just because a young side that won us a World Cup in a abridged format does not mean that was the way to go. Again, we also overreacted to the ODI series victory in Australia, which I have said time and again was largely due to Tendulkar and some good fast bowling from the younsters: not the Uthappas and Rainas.

This reaction has brought about precisely two things: a meteoric rise in the importance of Dhoni and wholesale recruiting of inexperienced youth from an U-19 cricket team. Dhoni’s recent success has hidden his rather mono-dimensional-nature as captain and less-than-solid batting from scrutiny. Dhoni isn’t a thinking captain, Azharuddin was. Dhoni is a lucky captain, at least so far: his troups have delivered. While there is nothing wrong with that the lack of ingenuitity or depth is bothersome. Perhaps this is the series which might expose these aspects of Dhoni further more. I’m not suggesting that we sack Dhoni now. That would be knee-jerk and the problem isn’t really with the captaincy, though I must add he hasn’t been doing much either. Besides, we don’t have a replacement captain. Please don’t suggest Yuvraj, he’s even worse! This itself is a crisis unprecedented in the last 10-15 years. When Azhar had to go, there was Tendulkar; when Ganguly was sacked, Dravid was ready. Even when Dravid stepped down, Dhoni made it because there was no one else, not out of his own merit. The second issue is of more importance. We’ve had a good deal of failures even the recent past of 3+ years from the Chappel era of recruiting U-19s to the Indian team. A cursory look at these names leads credence to the view that this really isn’t the way to go: Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Mohammed Kaif. In Rohit Sharma, Kohli and Ohja we perhaps have our next failed experiments. Domestic cricket is there for a reason and cricket is not a boys’ game. It involves either genius talent ala Tendulkar or just pure hard work. Gambhir learned it the hard way and is now back after having spent some time in the domestic circuit. Barring Tendulkar, the other Indian batting greats of today, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman roughed it out before they were even considered to represent the country at the highest level. The selectors need to look back this tradition, gather strength and change the way things are being done, though I fear it might already be a bit too late. Give it another year or a few more failed U-19 stars, and we might have to wait another generation for a set of solid batsmen.

Honestly, on the mission World Cup 2011, I honestly don’t see it happening. Teams that win World Cups generally have about 4-5 members who have played in an earlier version and have a mix of solid and swashbuckling batsmen and quality bowlers with variety. Australia in ’99 was probably the best Aussie WC team in the recent past. India’s 2003 WC squad was also probably our best and will remain that way for some time to come. I won’t comment on the 2007 WC here, much has been said about it. If honest effort is made to nurture good batting and bowling we might have a competitive 2015 WC squad, and unless anything miraculous happens I don’t see this particular ODI side winning a 50-over World Cup for us.

Meanwhile, in Soulberry’s thread, some have suggested what I have been ranting about for over eight months now: the reinstatement of Dravid in the ODI side. I would suggest that we include Ganguly too. We need some stability and some sanity. We need a batsman to hang around so the youngsters can learn what it takes to build an innings. Right now there is no mentor in the ODI team for the younsters. And please, Dhoni isn’t one! What happened to the rotation policy?  We seem to only have a senior-elimination policy at the moment. Dhoni was picked as captain of the ODI side because he supposedly had a good rapport with the seniors, but the first thing that he did was sack Dravid and then Ganguly. We need to rotate the Big 3, not eliminate 2 and let Tendulkar chase his records. Having said all that, given the nature of BCCI, do I see it happening? No. But do I continue hoping? Yes.

I think at the end of this tour of Sri Lanka, we would have learned more lessons than we did in the past decade. The last instance of such a lesson-filled tour that I recall is probably the 99-00 tour of Australia.  We need a good mix of the old and new to win matches and to build for the future. The veterans need to be around to show the way and the transition to the new order gradual. We have learnt a valid lesson from the ODI squad and one only hopes that after the 1-2 defeat in the recently concluded Test series, the same mistakes aren’t made with the Test squad.

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18 Responses to Mission 2011 World Cup: Wrong Path?

  1. VM- yeah, that’s some ramble! Am curious tho, where would you play Ganguly? And on what basis would you include RD? (the latter i want in the odi team, and after his 90 odd in eng, many moons ago, methought here comes the runaway wall).

    Sure, there is a sense of chaos in the team, but given the politics in indian cricket, MSD has shown what it takes to make some unpopular decisions. And about time too. Too bad it’s falling apart here, because it will, as Chapp would say, stall the proccess -which has already gone awry with some weird selections. Back to kindergarten i say to kohli! Ja Ohja!

  2. vmminerva says:

    @Gaurav, thank you. Yes that was one heck of an innings, couldn’t believe it was happening at the time. 🙂 Wall gone berserk. On RD, I still think he has much to offer to the ODI side, esp stability to the line up. Granted he is no Sehwag, but then we don’t want 6 Sehwags around. On Ganguly, that will be a bit of a challenge. If we don’t have an opening combo, then he should open, else #3 or #4 depending on whether Dravid batts at #5 or #3. As for the current falling apart, it was bound to happen, don’t you think?

  3. kohi ojha etc being bad selection doesn’t mean that all things have fallen flat…

    as i said in sb’s post that solution of one mistake can not be another…

    even if we bring RD and SG they cant guarantee that we will win this series…if we put so much emphasis on winning every series…and keep falling back on…like we panicked against SA series we will go nowhere…

    i would have thought of this measure if we were playing like world cup or champion trophy to win…this is just a bilateral series…

    as happening today the wickets are falling like anything does that mean sangakara, jayasriya, jayawardena all should sit down for next match? and mind you they have far more experience than our kids who played on relatively tougher wicket out there…

    we have reached finals of every recent tournament…based on good performances not by default…as if reaching to finals doesn’t count anymore…even in oz series i think it was gg who was highest scorer…

    if you look at who were the man of series from indian side of recent past (say last couple of years in ODIs) you will get the idea…

    we are panicking coz we have jst lost FIRST odi…as i have been saying this elsewhere too we are over analyzing the situation and defeats…which are mere reflections of disappointment that we all have carried from test matches defeats…

  4. Soulberry says:

    Wow! Victoria that’s a hard-hitting article!

    To his credit, Dhoni held on to the one out of the fab 4 who helped him win the CB series – Sachin Tendulkar. It is his luck that Sachin is injured. If he’s erring, it is in expecting too much from young fellows at the expense of the present.

    The same young fellows may contribute a year or two or three later, but then they will not be young fellows, will they? There will be less difference between them and a person like Badri for instance…if there is, it will be that while they honed their game at the top level, Badri-types did so at the domestic level. In Badri-types case, it wouldn’t have cost India much as they went about perfecting their game, while in the case of young star-types, it might have cost India more than just hefty match fees/contract monies.

    My odjection to Dhoni is he is dogmatic about this experiment without taking account the current situation. Either he really doesn’t care for what happens between 2007 and 2011 as long as he can somehow pull off 2011, or he truly believes that he can pull off 2011 regardless of what happens between now and then.

    And this 2011…has there been a promise asked for and given at the time of appointment as skipper? Was Dhoni asked for the trophy and did he promise to deliver provided he went about it the way he wants?

    He obviously has no use for those who are 25 years old or more at the time of first selection. He perhaps believes limited overs has more to do with age than skill.

    It is possible this disrespect Dhoni shows towards abilities in favour of age, has something to do with his own bedazling success (in his own mind of course and the men/women who gain by keeping that going) with basically strong-arm tactics and less skill?

    Or is it that under the cover of change and all the nice words, terms and talk that goes along with it like building a team for the future and so on…Dhoni is avoiding having anyone in the team his insecurity cannot cope with?

    Tendulkar is a malleable man….that grand old man is firstly too big for Dhoni himself and is too desperate for some WC success attached to his name to bother Dhoni much. And we all know desperate old men can be easily made to shed their wisdom gained from life.

    If you ask Dhoni, he may end up criticizing you for toing and froing meaninglesly between current needs and future goals, between a policy to develop a young active team and humoring older players…then there is the rotation policy which is so convenient at times…….those are, im my opinion, the valid tools Dhoni uses cleverly for the wrong ends. The present is as important as the future…it is the present which gives shape to the future..it is the only thing we have in hand…we do not have the past nor the future to play with…all we have is just the present.

    At all times, play the best team you can summon. Then you will find that there will only be a single adjustment or two you might have to make to accomodate the current situation of that time

  5. vmminerva says:

    @SP, this isn’t about this series at all. It’s about having the kids grow up as batsmen in a better environment than at present. There is still much for them to learn from having the seniors to bat with. I agree, though, with your point on “falling back for every series” – a valid one.

  6. vmminerva says:

    @Soulberry, you’ve said much of what I wanted to say on Dhoni, in better words. I cannot agree with you more in that we must play the best team you can summon – politics aside. The question is when will we get to doing this?

  7. Prabu says:

    Dhoni reminds me of another captain who came into the captaincy by default with a boatload of “seniors” in the team who were stalwarts, towards the end of the 1980s. Teh first thing this guy did, with the help of an ageing megalomaniac that ran Indian cricket then, was to off load all his “seniors” one by one. The lucky break for him was that India played, for almost 2 yrs continuously, one home series after another and with the help of our own “Mendis” then, he solidified his position as captain and as a batsman as well. I see something similar happening with Dhoni – he certainly is lucky as things invariably fall into place for him that seem to always help him out in situations.

  8. vmminerva says:

    @Prabu, welcome! Are you talking about Gavaskar?

  9. scorpicity says:

    VM… at the outset, we need to be patient for some time and see how things unfold… by large, this team has a decent start… let’s review them after 50 odd matches.

    I echo your sentiments on not picking performers from the domestic circuit and the obsession for the u19 guys.. in fact ranted on this in my blog :).

  10. vmminerva says:

    @Scorpy, just checked out what you wrote. Doesn’t the saying go ‘great minds think alike’? 🙂 Cheers!

  11. A Bisht says:

    Very thought provoking post, VM, worth a read

  12. Apurv says:

    Sorry VM, for once I disagree with you.

    Getting Dravid and Ganguly back will be a step backwards. One day game is a young man’s game (unlike test cricketer), Ganguly is perhaps the slowest mover in world cricket and traditionally teams that do well in one day cricket have fir , young , good fielding sides.

    You cannot ignore the contributions of some of the younger players in the CB series truimph. Rohit Sharma had a excellent series in Australia and Gambhir and Dhoni also made valuable contributions. To say that we won only due to Tendulkar would be abit harsh.

    India made a mistake in 2007 World Cup. We carried ateam with Ganguly and Kumble and we were called Dad’s Army and we lost in the first round.

    Test Cricket requires people with greater skills and hence the Fab four should remain. But India , if it needs to succeed in the shorter version needs to take afew hard steps. Lets compliment the selectors for taking them and dropiing Ganguly and Dravid. That bore instant sucess in Australia. Lets stay a bit more patient.

  13. vmminerva says:

    @ABisht, Thank you. Btw, thanks for blogrolling me. I’m adding you to mine.

    @Apurv, that’s ok man. Don’t be sorry. Disagreement adds to the fun. It’s all about discussion. I do agree with you on the fitness part, but also with Ganguly’s famous statement about fitness not being only about age. But he’s always been a mediocre fielder and runner. The concern in SL was that his feet weren’t moving. I’m for the idea of young folk, but deserving folk from the Ranji circle and for a mix of seniors (at least one or two), until the juniors grow in class.

  14. A Bisht says:

    Thank you for blogrolling me. if you havn’t noticed, I’ve also referenced this post in my post:

    http://cricketua.blogspot.com/2008/08/debutante-badrinath-impresses-dhoni.html

    But that because I found your post very thought provoking and raising some very valid issues. I’m reading blogs very meticulously and have started referencing good reads.Before leaving, to be honest, I found this post of yours having archive quality.Keep writing

  15. vmminerva says:

    Yes, I did see that. Thanks man! 🙂

  16. Soulberry says:

    The series is rolling in VM…do you think India has the look about them of a team capable of blowing it away today?

    India is coming through against good teams…winning matches against good teams. That point we must not miss.

  17. vmminerva says:

    Point taken, SB. But any Indian team can blow anything away. That’s in our blood. I think the bowlers are well – esp Munaf (in what little I have caught of the series) – a very good sign.

  18. Soulberry says:

    🙂

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