Test cricket going down the rabbit hole

Hopefully the beatings have stopped as I write this. It’s been a painful two months but apparently the quota of Indians that can be beaten in Australia has been exceeded. As we enter the limited overs contest, one feels things will get better; they can’t really get worse for one simple reason. There is also Sri Lanka in the fray. Thank God for small islands, as Munshi Premchand once said. Be that as it may, it looks pretty clear that India needs a clean-up. Indian cricket needs a once over, or more specifically Test cricket needs to be relearnt.
Vijay Merchant would be the obvious answer. But the Merchant of Mumbai has been dead for the last 25 years. So that makes it a little difficult for him to help out in a practical sense. Sunil Gavaskar is still waiting for his dues owed to him by the BCCI, which translates into his being more likely to coach Pakistan than India at the present moment. Vishy, Jimmy, Dilip, Ravi — all are unable, reluctant, indisposed or all three together. So, who do we turn to? Before finding the answer let’s first examine the report card.
Duncan Fletcher: The first head on the block is obviously the coach. The former Zimbabwean international and present British subject who was leaning towards an Indian passport may now be on his last legs. People have started saying unkind things like he’s the best fielder in the Indian side, or his next step is Bollywood or there’s always reality shows. Others say he was too soft where Greg Chappell was too loud.
Some really unkind ones say that he is the Manmohan Singh of Indian cricket — always on mute. In fact, the criticism heaped on him has become so much that apparently he’s contemplating the unthinkable — absolutely unthinkable for a Zimbabwean. Duncan Fletcher is actually contemplating returning to Zimbabwe!
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: In spite of being one of the most dignified and wonderful role models in the world of sport, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had already earned more than his share of critics from an early transgression in his career. A Shirish Kunder hairstyle. This act and this act alone may cost him the Bharat Ratna at some later stage. Was he too defensive? He allowed his bowlers to make more bowling centuries than Bradman did on the England tour of 1930. His own batting has gone from less Viv Richards to more Renee Richards. Halfway to the tour he hints at giving up Test cricket. Swing and seam are unnecessary byproducts and must be done away with as they are coming in the way of Indian cricket.
Flat tracks, spineless attacks, bigger bats, shorter boundaries and no bouncers — that’s one way of helping Indian cricket out of this hole. Then the ultimate irony in April last was when he was holding and waving the World Cup trophy. Halfway through Australia it looks like he’s holding and waving a towel.
Then we come to the big three. The three Amigos — Amar Akbar Anthony — John Janee Janardhan. Three great legends who suddenly seem to run out on gas. Without showing disrespect, how do we lead them to the pastures? More importantly who is going to bell the cat? The jibes are uncontrollable. “They’re the BJP of Indian cricket,” said one unkind friend. “The ancient going nowhere but refusing to retire.”
With seven months before the next series, albeit one at home, what do we do with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? There are other issues like openers who don’t give a start, bowlers who can’t contain and spinners who are improving only as batsman. And this is a trait started by Harbhajan Singh and not by R. Ashwin. Should we go for a genetic breeding programme using specialist donors like Chandrashekar, Kapil Dev and Vengsarkar?
Readers are invited to send in their blueprints to save Indian cricket. Let’s face it; we’ve lost the Great Indian Bustard. We are losing the tiger. Let’s make a collective effort to save Test cricket.

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