Did openers serve India’s cause?


It is India-bashing time in the English media, which is asking a million questions now about the top-ranked Test team.

However, a point or two they are making — about how Team India prepared for a tour that was virtually the world Test championship as the No. 1 was to be decided on the basis of the series result — is valid.

The most awkward questions being posed are of the pair of opening batsmen? Was Virender Sehwag truly aligned to the Team India cause in the way he handled the timing of his shoulder surgery? Could Gautam Gambhir not have been gutsier in playing the second Test despite the blow to his elbow?

First, Sehwag — Was Team Indian’s welfare in the high-profile series really on his mind when he times his surgery? It is being freely suggested that he waited to see if his Delhi Daredevils made it to the semi-finals of the IPL before he undertook the surgery.

By delaying the shoulder operation because of the IPL he was jeopardising his participation on the tour of England.

Had Sehwag been truly selfless, he would have sacrificed the IPL in order to have the surgery early and thus give himself time to recuperate for the opener at Lord’s on June 21.

The problem is Indian cricketers’ thinking is centred on the IPL but then the IPL does wonders for their financial well being.

IPL riches have given Indian stars huge financial clout and independence. The fact of the matter is the misuse of that freedom may be affecting Team India’s presence around the top of the international Test and ODI tables. We will see how this has acted in the case of Gambhir too.

Criticised severely for possibly hiding an injury while trying to propel his Kolkata Knight Riders to the IPL summit, Gambhir broke down and skipped the tour of the West Indies.

While injury is common enough on the crowded international sports calendar, Gambhir’s fault was in prioritising the IPL over Team India’s cause. It is quite another matter that the BCCI’s worst timed tour was that of the Caribbean, starting barely days after the mentally and physically exhausting IPL season.

Writing on a laptop is rather easier than competing in the international arena while trying to wield the willow with a painful arm.

However, Gambhir cannot wish away the fact that his ducking the second Test on the grounds of suffering that hard blow near his elbow at Lord’s had severely affected India’s batting order in the Trent Bridge Test and jeopardises its chances and consequently the No. 1 Test ranking.

Not only is the BCCI to blame for the poor preparation for a crucial series.

The attitude and approach of players like Harbhajan, Sehwag and Gambhir to the England series also left a lot to be desired. Their priorities were rather more personal than national.

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