Cricket fans who tore their hair in frustration after watching the Indian batsmen succumb to the spinning skills of Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath and Tharindu Kaushal in the recent Test match at Galle must apportion some blame on the system instead of over-targeting the current practitioners of batting.
The current crop of international cricketers have emerged from domestic cricket, but are they playing enough of it once they settle into the national team? No, because their bosses want them to be seen parading their skills on the international scene more than on home soil. Last year, India lost a series in England 3-1 after going one-up through a fantastic performance by centurion Ajinkya Rahane and fast bowler Ishant Sharma who claimed 7 for 74 in an innings at Lord’s. The Indian batsmen succumbed to Moeen Ali, the off-spinner who is in the England team for his batting, mind you.
Our top players don’t always seem to have the desire to play domestic cricket. At times, it is justified considering the India workload. The BCCI in recent years has been guilty of scheduling important domestic games like the Irani Trophy at a time when the big players are away on international duty. This was a rarity in the earlier years. Till the mid-1980s, the Irani Trophy was THE platform to attract the selectors’ eyes. Ask Dilip Vengsarkar, who got picked for the tour of New Zealand in 1975 because of his splendid hundred for Bombay against Rest of India which had the likes of Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna.
India’s spin woes on the batting and bowling fronts coincide with BCCI doing away with this season’s Duleep Trophy because there is too much cricket on its plate.
Though cricket must be financially healthy, it cannot lose its soul and India’s administrative czars must find the right balance between skills and entertainment. Not everything is bad with Indian cricket and the series in Sri Lanka has not yet been lost, but a traditional strength becoming a weakness is not a transformation that is pleasing.