MUMBAI, (Reuters) – “RIP. World’s No.1 test team” screamed the Times of India’s front page headline yesterday as former players joined angry media in blaming selectors for India’s limp series loss to England.
“India gift crown on a platter,” the sports page of the same newspaper lamented after Saturday’s innings and 242 runs loss in the third test meant a first series defeat as captain for Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The newspaper also gave a graphic detail of how India were “shamed and dethroned” while the Hindustan Times headline said the team, idolised by the majority of India’s 1.2 billion cricket-obsessed population, had gone “from kings to commoners.”
India arrived in England as the number one test team in the world, fresh from their 50-over World Cup victory on home turf, but the morale-sapping losses in the first three matches of the four-test series handed England the top spot.
The tourists have been found wanting in all departments of the game — their batsmen have failed to post big totals, the bowlers have been wayward and the fielders have floored opportunities that have come their way.
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell blamed the selectors for the disastrous performance of the Indian cricketers. “The selectors’ failure to address issues like an aging batting line-up, a declining off-spinner and substandard fielding in the five-day game, has finally come home to roost,” he said in a column published in the Hindustan Times. Former India all-rounder Mohinder Amarnath said it was time for some serious soul-searching for the selectors.
“The fact is that our batting, which has looked completely out of sorts, got exposed to a formidable bowling attack (for the first time) in a long time,” Amarnath said in a column published in the Times of India.
“Even at the end of their careers, we expect the likes of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman to bail us out and when they don’t we see the results. I feel this is a genuine concern for Indian cricket.
INVEST IN FUTURE
“The selectors have a tough job ahead of them. They need to sit and think about the future. They need to build players who can step into the big shoes and they have a job on their hands.”
Anil Kumble, the former India leg-spinner and the country’s highest wicket-taker in both tests and one-day internationals, said it was time for Indian cricket to invest in the future.
“You need to ensure who’s the next four or five batsmen that you are going to invest in and then those batsmen will have to be given the long rope,” former India captain Kumble told the CNN-IBN channel.
“Give them the confidence so that they can prosper. It needs to be done that way.
“You might not end up getting (back) to the number one position quickly but then you don’t want to lose out from number two to number six or seven.”
Kumble said the youngsters needed to be properly groomed to perform at the test level.
“We do have some good players. People like Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and then you have Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh.
“All these guys have to be given that responsibility that they are the guys who are going to take the Indian team forward.
“You need to invest in them and get some youngsters in and ensure that they are given the time to settle in and do well at the test level.”
The final test of the series starts on Thursday before the teams play a Twenty20 international and five one-dayers.