If the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) want their senior team to be truly and not by at-times-illogical rankings the best cricket side in the world, they not only need to ring in some changes in the support staff.
They also need to examine what efforts they have made to provide Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team to be at the top of their game. The importance of having a good number of warm-up games/net sessions before a Test or one-day series can never be underestimated.
Over the last three years, the team had that ‘luxury’ on the 2011 and 2011-12 tours to England and Australia respectively, but not on their last tours to South Africa and New Zealand. Cynics can point out that India still ended up getting a shellacking in England and Australia despite the team not rushing into the Test series, but that is taking a very narrow view of a huge need.
It is outright unfair for a visiting team to kick off a one-day series without playing a single game. This is what exactly happened to the Indians in New Zealand. Would this have been the case had the series in South Africa been a three-Test affair instead of a shortened and ridiculous two-match Test series? Probably not.
After the one-day series in South Africa, the Indians were scheduled to play only one match before the Test series began at Benoni, near Johannesburg, the venue of the first Test. That tour game ended up being washed out.
It’s time captain Dhoni moves away from the diplomatic line about how international players are expected to adapt quickly and instead, stress on the need for good preparation. For, at the end of the day, it is he and his tired troops who have to face criticism that is often thickly layered with ridicule.
Dhoni being a top-class and experienced performer can adapt easily, but that may not be the case with his lesser-reputed teammates. So, while talk continues about India being tigers at home and lambs abroad, the need to look at the bigger picture is imperative and urgent. Just like multiple factors go into a success story, there is more than one aspect that leads to a flop show.