India an ageing side sans passion and commitment

Ian Botham

India, Dec. 11 -- India have now lost 10 of their last 13 Tests and some serious questions are due to be answered. Fingers are being pointed at skipper Dhoni, but that is so very wrong. Hasn't he been phenomenal as skipper in the past? The other funny part is the suggestion of naming Virat Kohli as captain. I would like to ask what has he done as a batsman in this series to even retain his place, leave alone captaincy?

There are also suggestions to have different captains for different formats. Dhoni is the best person to judge his workload and the decision to play and lead in all the formats is for him to decide. It's the bunch of players who win matches and not captaincy. The change in captaincy is not going to help Test cricket in India.

Set priorities

Indian cricket needs to look for a lot of young players to fill up the vacant slots. Test cricket should be the priority of the BCCI. Players coming in should also be questioned about their priorities -- whether they aspire to be accomplished cricketers like the Dravids, Gangulys, Laxmans and Kumbles or just want to focus on the shortest format to earn quick money.

I have not seen passion and commitment in the India team in recent times in Test cricket when I compare it with what I saw some 10 years back. There needs to be a change in the overall thinking.

The cricket board and the players need to regroup and think collectively. It is not right to make the captain the scapegoat. An individual cannot create a debacle. It's a big concern when even at the age of 39 Sachin Tendulkar was India's top scorer in the first innings of the Kolkata Test.

Over the hill

Apart from the attitude, agility was another aspect which made the difference between the England and India side. India clearly looked an ageing side. In India, I have seen most like to dwell on past glory. The game moves on and the players need to move on as well. If that had not been the case with us, we would be seeing the Bothams, Willis's and Underwoods still playing.

India, in the past, have had great coaches like John Wright and Gary Kirsten. Duncan Fletcher is a brilliant coach, but I doubt if Indian cricket is using him well. If I were to be the decision maker, I would put Fletcher at the helm of things and let him be the decision maker.

Fletcher should be allowed to share his vision and play an important role in the selection process. He should work very closely with the captain in order to achieve the results.

Once Fletcher has his players then comes the role of a senior like Tendulkar to groom and share his experiences with the new players for the next few months.

That would be extremely beneficial for them.

I have seen some good talent in the India team. Cheteshwar Pujara is solid, Pragyan Ojha is a good spinner and Umesh Yadav a good prospect. I am also impressed with R Ashwin. I think he is a fantastic cricketer, and the best part is that he thinks all the time.

He is in the team primarily for his bowling, but he has been very consistent with the bat and he has looked too good to be a number eight. I rate him highly and hope to see more of him.


The writer is a former England captain

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.