Saturday, August 13, 2011

England's Comprehensive Win - Deserving of No. 1 Rankings

The third test between India and England has been lost by a huge margin. England whipped, bludgeoned, crushed India 3-0 in a most embarrassing fashion. I don't know if there are better words to describe it but England's mastery and control over India has been awesome. Except for two periods in the three tests - when England was 90 for 6 and when India was 270 for 4 - in the first innings of the third test, India was totally subjugated, looked in awe, in fear, at loss. Like someone in the box said - there's no problem except for the Indian batting, bowling and fielding.

It was surprising to see the way the one day World Champions, the Test No 1s, capitulated. There was absolutely no fight. It was the lack of spirit, the lack of application that was bewildering. This is not a rookie team playing in hostile and strange conditions for the first time. Something just went off, all the gas went out. Maybe they had no more steam. Maybe they have nothing left to prove anymore. Maybe they are just tired. Maybe it was too cold.

But they cannot blame any of these things. As No.1 team they are expected to take the responsibility and put up a good fight. They are professionals who have to give their best, die for the cause, as long as they wear the country's colours. And if they are not good enough, if they are tired, injured, mentally weak, physically bruised, they have no reason to be there. There is just no excuse that is good enough for this team. A whole new XI could as well play the last match for all its worth. Cricketers who are hungry to play, to prove, to show what they have. But are there any of those left?

England has been magnificent. When they bat the conditions look so different. The ball does not seem to move, there is no carry. They bat with confidence and discipline. They do all the basics right. They play in the V. They settle down and look to build partnerships. They bat deep. They never throw their wickets away. They run all their runs hard. They hit plenty of booundaries.

When they bowl they look threatening from ball one. No freebies. They bowl one side of the wicket. They bowl to a plan for each batsman. They hardly give away loose balls. There are no extras. Just plain simple basics. Keep the ball in the right areas, keep the batsmen guessing, give away as few runs as possible. Keep the pressure. All the time. They come hard at the batting. The fielding has done little wrong. Catching has been excellent both in the slips and in the outfield.

As a team everyone put up their hand. They look relaxed. They supported one another. They played together. All of it is pretty much basic stuff every coach says time and again. But they thought it out, and implemented it. So well.

The Indians had no plan. Nothing to implement. It was rudderless. Everyone doing their own thing. No application. No fight, No gumption. One can lose, and there is no shame in losing because someone has to win and mostly the better team does.

But to lose like without a fight is unacceptable for any team, more so one carrying such big names and such big reputations. It only points to a complete lack of preparation. It appears that everyone went in hoping that someone would do the job - after all we are the champion team, and we have Captain Midas. But tough tours are never won with hope. they are won by meticulous preparation, superior planning.

This is not just a lesson to Dhoni and his men but to all of us in India who somehow seem to hope that India will be at the top of the world by 2020, whether we do our job well or not - someone will do it. No sir, no one will, we have to walk the path. We have to prepare better. Its not enough that we have a large population. We need to work. And better than the competition. They are not sitting idle!

This tour can go down to learning. An awfully embarrassing learning experience. There is still another game left and one must only look forward, take the positives and try and improve. Hopefully the team has started to get together and analyse what is wrong with their minds first. They have to get sharper, hungrier and more resilient in the mind. And once they do that, then they can figure out the rest. It is important that they put up a better show, a fight in the remaining game. They cannot look like a school cricket team that is playing out of their league and be whacked all over, at will. I thought they'd play for pride at least after everyone got under their skin during the second test. But the problems lie deeper obviously. They just gave up.

To me the mind first. What happened to the desire, the pride, that you cannot even get up off the mat despite the worst jibes and comments one can throw at you? If you are comfortable lying down on the mat and be kicked around you should not be in there in the first place. You have to get up each time you fall, you have to take it on the chin, again and again, hang in there, until the opposition starts tiring.

For the last test, the players can ask themselves if they want to get up or stay on the mat - and then honestly take the field. As for the cricket part all they need to do is watch the English and copy them. They have done their basics so well. Well done Strauss and team, and Andy Flower as well. You deserve your spot at the top.

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