India did well to lose the series only 4-3 inspite of the many problems that it is facing at the moment. Nasser Hussain commentating during one of the games said “India have 500 problems!” So where do we start?
Five openers? – India got together a team with 5 openers! Can you believe this? Are there no middle order cricketers in the country? Look at this side – Sachin, Sourav, Gambhir, Uthappa & Karthik. Now what this has done is that it has completely made the middle order go haywire with no fixed places in the batting order for Dravid, Yuvraj and Dhoni. Ideally the Indian batting order should have a settled look of Sachin, Sourav, Dravid, Yuvraj & Dhoni followed by whoever is picked. This is our best batting order. But if Gambhir plays, then he has to come in at 3 because he is an opener and cannot be used down the order as he may not be effective enough. Uthappa, as Dravid suggested at the post match interview was to be used as a floater to come in at 3 in case a wicket fell early. That he came good was a big bonus for us. But his place is at the top of the order. This means that Gambhir really has no place in the team. Now coming to Sourav, his feet are not exactly quick and he will have a huge problem opening the innings in Australia. And Karthik? The lesser said the better. Again was sent in at 3 because he opened in the tests and he failed and was finally dropped. Now he does not know where he belongs in the one day side.
The fast bowlers – How many more times are we going to have an unfit Munaf Patel in a team? He can’t bat, can’t field and is unfit to bowl at his best. As for Agarkar I don’t have to write anything extra. He has played his last game for India. Ishanth Sharma is still a rookie and hardly has worthy performances in the domestic circuit at the moment. This leaves us with Zaheer, and RP Singh as the only fast bowlers. Sreesanth probably will get into the team again I think. BUt the cupboard does look a bit bare.
Dravid and the captaincy – Dravid is overburdened and stressed out without a proper coach. This was most evident in his handling the team in the ODIs. Firstly the decisions with toss. Secondly his field placings. Thirdly his tinkering with the batting order. all these things clearly show that we have ac captain who is overworked. He is taking on too much responsibility and it is telling on his batting also. As a captain Dravid also has a tendency to experiment a lot. He is an intelligent cricketer but he is suffering from a hangover of the Greg Chappell era where there was just too much experimentation. He needs to settle down and start doing the basic things well.
The fielding – This is a really sad state of affairs. And we have a full time fielding coach as well. But there is only this much that a fielding coach can do. Things have to be addressed at a much earlier stage even before these players play for their states. Compare the under 30 cricketers in teh Indian side with some in England and you can see the difference. While Yuvraj or Uthappa are good enough, Gambhir is definitely not. and he is not 30 as yet. We cannot have such cricketers coming through the ranks without the class of a Bell or Collingwood on the field. It is absolutely essential in the modern context.
The all rounder – Where is he? Do we have one? Will we get one at all? Or do we still have to believe in the bowling of Ganguly, Yuvraj & Sachin or the batting of Agarkar, Powar & Chawla to say that we don’t need one? Will Pathan get back his bowling form? Is there a good all rounder in the 19-25 age bracket who can be groomed?
We definitely have a lot of problems and that is why we have slipped to 6th in the ODI rankings.