Retrospective for the 1st test

In Software Engineering, at the end of a project (or an iteration),  the team gets together to discuss/review the project and to reflect on what worked, what didn’t; what the team learnt and what the team is still trying to learn. The review process is called Retrospective and it is something the Indian team would benefit from if they ran one at the end of every test and series.

Here is my version of the Retrospective for the first test –

What worked?

  • Karthik as an opener
  • The batting of Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly (although they gave their wickets away at the wrong time)

What didn’t work?

  • Timing of the series! Bad conditions, bad weather, bad pitch.
  • The Indian fast bowling attack lacked penetration, particularly in the second innings. Zaheer was very ordinary in both innings and he is supposed to be the most experienced fast bowler in the match.
  • Ability to dismiss the tail (If India had forced Bangladesh to follow-on, the results could well have been different)
  • Dravid’s rotation of his bowlers (For instance, I couldn’t figure out why Sachin was brought on so late in the first innings, or why the opening bowlers were persisted with for so long in the second innings)
  • Jaffar! Zeros in both innings? Not good. Not good at all. He is also the only specialist opener in the team.

 What did the team learn?

  • How important Kumble is to this team in sub-continent pitches! But we didn’t need this match to tell us that.

What are we still trying to learn?

  • Is the 5+1+5 batsmen-wk-bowler combination the right one? We ended up playing a 4+2+5 combination, which sounds a bit ridiculous. And, with Kumble sick, we still bowled with just 4 bowlers. Not sure whether we’ve worked this one out yet.
  • We still haven’t figured out what the right make up of the batting. Do we keep Laxman and Yuvraj out of the team?  Surely, you can’t drop Rahul, Sachin and Saurav – they all batted well, plus Dravid is the captain. Dropping anyone from the middle order is basically out of question. Karthik cannot be dropped after his good performance and Jaffar is the only specialist opener. Again, not sure what the right solution is.

I am sure there are a lot more. Please feel free to add them in the comments section.


19 responses to “Retrospective for the 1st test

  1. In my view, Ganguly should have been dropped and Laxman should have played instead. Laxman is any day a better batsman than Ganguly. Kaarthik as an opening batsman is not good in the long run.

    Unlucky Laxman waits to play his role

    Vijay Lokapally

    Seniors back themselves in the interests of the game

    # Nothing spectacular about Tendulkar and Ganguly’s centuries
    # Laxman finds himself at the crossroads again
    # A proven match-winner, Laxman finds himself at a difficult crossroad again

    “There was nothing spectacular about the centuries that Tendulkar and Ganguly hit at Chittagong. Their knocks, on a flat pitch and against some mediocre bowling”

  2. Ok, this is a bit uncharacteristic for me (to go hammer and tongs at someone), but indulge me as I let rip.

    Lokappaly says “seniors back themselves in the interest of the game”. Hmmm! Last time I looked Laxman is a “senior” too. So, by your own logic, Laxman should get the boot.

    In fact, he deserves just that for the way he played in South Africa. That run out alone would have cost him his place in the team, IF he were in Australia.

    Laxman has won one match for India. I will not credit the Adelaide win to Laxman, although he had an important hand in it. No doubt his Kolkata hand was a monumental and important one for India. However, since then, in my view, he has done diddly-squat. He has occupied a space in the team that cricketers like Kaif, Yuvraj and others would have, perhaps, done more with.

    He is, in my view, a lazy cricketer who has not enough hunger in him. Despite his immense abilities and his class, my feeling is that he would not last a year in the Australian team. Azharuddin had style and class. But he also had an intensely serious work-ethic. One needs hunger and an intensity to do that. And as benchmarks go, the Aussie team is the only benchmark.

    Ganguly lost that hunger and that commitment. He got into a mode where he perhaps started to think that all he needed to do was to turn up on the park on the day. He developed an “it’ll be alright on the night” mentality. That is wrong. He was shown the door — quite rightly in my view. He has come back with oodles of drive, hunger and passion.

    The work is not merely on the park. More than 90% of the work should be OFF the park.

    In India, we tend to pay too much importance to class, wrist, smashing-the-ball and style. We fans get carried away with that.

    Steve Waugh writes about this aspect of the game in his book which I recommend to you. He goes on to say that ultimately what’s really important is the work you do off the field. That gives you courage and self-belief especially in tough match-situations. You learn to battle against the odds. You back yourself and your abilities. That drive and hunger must come from within. He talks about setting goals and striving to achieve them. One must want to play better than the last innings. But more than anything else, one must want a fight and relish a fight.

    Damien Fleming once said to a close friend of mine that he could not believe his eyes and ears when he heard an Indian cricketer (name withheld for I do not want to bismerch Fleming’s reputation) say that often, scoring a century can get you off fielding duties for half an innings. He went on to say that an Australian cricketer would kill to get onto the park for fielding duties even if he had scored 300! Laxman typifies that “my work is now done” attitude.

    Damien Martyn, very early in his innings, played a lazy shot which is said to have cost Australia a game against South Africa in Sydney. Martyn, who was even then a classy player, was sidelined for nearly 6 years or so until he got that hunger and drive into his game.

    In my view, Laxman’s approach can be seen in his fielding and his running between wickets. If he can’t bend his back for the team and throw himself around on the park, he needs to throw himself out of the team.

    Just look at Kumble and Dravid (and now Ganguly) at practice sessions or at the gym and then you’ll understand what I am saying.

    Laxman’s days are, in my view over. He may prove me wrong and good luck to him if he does. But without hunger, dedication, passion and drive, class is just worthless in my view.

    If Laxman finds himself at the crossroads, the answer to his predicament is in the mirror in my view.

  3. Good points Mahesh.

    I think India has boxed itself into a corner with the selection of Jaffer and Karthik as openers. They have to stay. I can’t see Dravid or Yuvraj or Laxman opening the innings.

    Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly stay too.

    I still question the rationale behind having both Karthik and Dhoni. Unfortunate as it may be for Dhoni, given that Karthik has taken the opening slot, the choice is to bring in Yuvraj for Dhoni.

    If Kumble is still injured, Pawar may get a game.

    I can’t see the bowlers changing and I doubt Ishant Sharma will get the nod ahead of RP or VRV. Depsite his bad showing in the first test, I think Zaheer Khan will stay on in the team.

  4. Srikanth Mangalam

    Mohan, you are bang on on your analysis on Laxman, couldn’t have put it better.
    I do not want to see Dhoni dropped just because Karthik has retained an opening slot for the time being. Dhoni’s mental strength and capacity to build an innings in crisis (even if it has only been demonstrated in one dayers so far) is an asset, and by dropping him, we might send a wrong message. I would actually challenge the presence of Jaffer in the side for this test match, it might just be worthwhile to try Yuvraj out or move Dravid to that position (after all he did end up opening in both the innings). Rajesh Pawar has to play this test match even if Kumble plays. This is the best opportunity to put the “best” left arm spinner in the country to test, and, it may not be a bad idea to play 3 spinners after all.

  5. I am not quite sure about the “best left arm spinner in the country” tag for Pawar.

    Bring back Maninder Singh, I say. I hear coke does wonders to your flight and loop 🙂


  6. Srikanth

    I did not say that Dhoni had to be dropped. I said, I think, that GIVEN
    (a) the hands-tied-behind-back selection policy on openers,
    (b) my continued sense of bewilderment at the inclusion of two wicketkeepers in the team,
    (c) Karthik’s good show as an ‘opener”, and
    (d) there being little hope of either Dravid, Yuvraj or Laxman opening the innings,

    Dhoni has to make way for Yuvraj or Laxman. Unless of course we can say with conviction that Dhoni is a better bat than either Yuvraj or Laxman.

    It may be unfortunate to leave Dhoni out, but the team needs an additional bat to come in behind Dravid-Tendulkar-Ganguly, I believe.

    — Mohan

  7. Hello,

    Vijay Lokapally ripped up the stars saying that there was not much in Sachin or Ganguly’s centuries against minnows in a placid track. This seems like an emotional response to that.

    If we go by pure raw statistics, Laxman has an average of 42 as opposed to Ganguly’s 41. Ganguly is a weak fielder, poor runner between wickets. Remember, Laxman’s innings – 177 @ Sydney in 1999 ? was pure class.

    I did not see any hunger, when I watched Ganguly during WC 2007. His selfish nature in batting was evident during Bangladesh and Srilanka and as usual kept up his average against the minnows – Bermuda.

    Yuvraj is not in the same league as Laxman. As someone else pointed out, Yuvraj’s test record is very poor – 33.2. He seems to find a place in the team, since he is a good fielder.

    If Laxman is not good enough, that is fine. But then he should not have been selected for this tour.

  8. “In fact, he deserves just that for the way he played in South Africa. That run out alone would have cost him his place in the team, IF he were in Australia.”

    I remember – Sachin and Dravid blocking full tosses against Pakistan and did not even take singles. Finally, we lost the Bangalore test.

    Same thing happened @ SA. Sachin and Ganguly, were giving maiden over after maiden to some rookie, new bee spinner, perhaps worse than Murali Karthik. In my view, their defensive batting, added more pressure and eventually India lost the match for India.

    If it were Australia, both Sachin and Ganguly be dropped ??

  9. gnbmdr,

    Certainly not an emotional response. Mine, I thought, was a measured one. Sure Sachin’s and Ganguly’s centuries were worthless. But I am sure if they had scored 1 and 2 respectively, you’d have been asking for a reinstatement of T.E.Srinivasan in the team 🙂

    Vijay Lokappaly can write what he wants. But the fact is Sachin and Sourav did not score 1 and 2. They scored 100 each. Was that enough? No. Did they play well. Perhaps not. Did they play against minnows? Possibly yes. Did they score a 100? Certainly yes.

    Laxman’s 177 in Sydney was after a string of low scores and in a match that India had lost. It was brilliant. No doubt. I saw it. I also heard Steve Waugh rave about it. But what was the point of that innings? Where was his mind through the rest of that series? Frankly, I think apart from that one flash of sheer brilliance in Kolkata, he has done nothing special.

    His running in the RSA match told me that it was time for India to bid adieu.

    So I agree, Laxman should not have been selected on this tour. At least we agree on that count! 🙂

  10. Just for this match, I’d drop Jaffer and ask Dravid to open to bring Laxman after Sachin or Ganguly. It is necessary. I hate this 5 bowler formula, but then in this punishing condition, it just looks right. The bowlers are below international quality is another matter.

    PS: I like the debates you guys have here.:)

  11. Here’s an out-of-the-box thought: turn Dravid and Sachin into openers until an opener turns up in domestic cricket who has better technique than Jaffer or Gambhir. More on this here… Sachin and Dravid should open

  12. Sumit – It is hard enough convincing Dravid to open…What makes you think Tendulkar would take it up?

  13. Mohan – It would be interesting to see how Laxman stacks up against the other players in the last 10 matches (although that is not the only measure we should use to pick or drop a player)

    It would make for an interesting read…

  14. Blogesh, Self-interest. The ball will come on to the bat, he’ll get more value for his shots with the field in, and he’ll get a chance to retire as a hero.

  15. Sumit,

    Thats just a wishful thinking. Bat when the field is in? Hello!! We’re talking about tests here, not ODIs.

    And Sachin WILL retire as a hero, no matter where he bats!

  16. 9 runs off 31 balls against Bangladesh on a day with India going at 300 plus for no loss. If he remains a hero to you after this, he will certainly retire as one.

  17. You are a sports writer. I think you must have heard about strategy. Karthik scored just 22 off 84 balls in the first session? So he won’t be a hero even if cracks a double ton and India wins??

    Strange thinking!

  18. The point is why so much caution with no wickets falling. What would the Aussies have done? Jaffer and Karthick were over-cautious too. Initailly was okay maybe, but to go on like that till tea? Against Bangladesh it doesn’t matter. We’ll win anyway unless rain comes. Against stronger opponents, it can be the difference between winning and drawing… I’m a journo, but not a sports writer. So I have no compunctions about pointing out the selfish game idolised stars like Sachin play. Cheers 🙂

  19. Sumit,

    Why are you hell bent on seeing everything from Aussie’s point of view? If you think they’re the greatest then why didn’t you lament the fact that Symonds was included in the squad for WC half fit and without any match under his belt after the surgery? Why was Hayden included in the WC squad without proving his match fitness after the toe injury suffered during the Chappell Hadlee series? And why were you lamenting the fact that Sachin was allowed free entry into the national team without any FC class play after the injuries?

    Or is it that you embrace the in Aussie cricket just what you like and shut your eyes to what you don’t like?

    Do we know what strategy the team formed? Do we know what role Sachin had to play? Then how on earth can we go on criticising him?

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