Sunday, December 21, 2014

The 2nd Test Debacle - Who's Responsible for the 'Dressing Room Unrest'?

A good first inning total by India that promised much. A decent bowling show that broke into a weak Aussie batting - before giving it away to the tail enders. An unexpected capitulation in the second innings. A sting in the tail by taking six Aussie wickets before losing the test. Now we are in a hole as far as this series goes.

But I somehow don't see Steve Smith trying to play for draws even now. I think he will still look to win which gives India a chance to get back if they pull themselves together.

That loss is not something to worry about really. It is a young team. It will learn. What is worrisome is this aspect of 'dressing room unrest' that skipper MSD spoke about. So Shikhar Dhawan got hit by a ball in practice. So he looked okay to the team then. Then he was not ok when he had to go in to bat. So the next guy had to go in because Shikhar is not fully fit. It happens all the time. What's the big deal? What is this 'unrest'?

Do professional batsmen need a minimum cooling period before they go in to bat? What if Shikhar Dhawan sprained his ankle while walking out and returned - would there still be unrest and an unprepared batsman? Are these guys professionals or what? Here are professional players behaving like namby pamby kids who can't take a bit of stress. They get unsettled by practice pitches that may be unprepared a bit (so don't practice, its not that this one morning session will give you all the skill in the world in half an hour). They will not communicate (who takes the call that Shikhar can or cannot bat - Shikhar himself - so why was he not able to speak to the skipper? What's brewing? What is the rest of the coaching staff doing - the Director, the Chief Coach, the Assistant Coaches, the Manager? Do we now need a 'Communications Coach' in the team?) What nonsense!

The captain cannot come out and say that he did not know. If he does not know who knows? And if he did not know he was well within his rights as skipper to tell Shikhar to pad up and go in - pain or not, fracture or not. He has the right to do that. Why is he so helpless that he cannot order a teammate who looked ok and who did not communicate his discomfort to go in and bat? There have been many instances when players under severe physical stress have been told by their skippers - Allan Border telling Dean Jones to stay put in Chennai and Ashok Mankad telling his wicket keeper to not return despite a bleeding facial injury in a Ranji game come to mind. There is no excuse for this dressing room unrest - you guys have created it yourself. The practice pitches are no excuse either.

All these non-cricketing reasons show that on the field the Aussie cricket team - which in my opinion is weaker than the Indian side - has won the cricketing points. We can blame the pitch, the players, the culture, umpiring etc like bunch of whining school kids. At least accept the result gracefully fellows.

I can blame the captain for this - but only some part. That does not absolve the coaching staff - that huge retinue of highly paid staff that's hanging in there. They deserve to take more than half of the blame for just being there. The captain is certainly hinting that there are powers within the team that are interfering with the decisions - it cannot be anyone else but someone from within the coaching staff. I would like to see the Team Director say something about this. After all he oversees things. How could such things happen when someone of his repute and stature and knowledge is there? Speak up Mr. Shastri.

I agree with Sunil Gavaskar that the Indian team need not engage in verbal duels with the Aussies. It is an ugly side of cricket and one that will eventually bite the Aussies back. They have taken this gamesmanship too far and are constantly pushing the boundary. There is nothing that justifies it really - except that they may feel that they are winning because of it. The win at the cost of everything else. They can do it. The Indians need not really - not unless they feel that such tactics affect their game positively. The results so far don't indicate so. Maybe its time to take the focus off all things that are not cricket, and get back to the game. There are two more games to play. If you don't push the egos aside and get your act together, the Aussies might just run away with the trophy with a bigger margin.


Prasanna Kumar said...

Well written Hari Sir.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Prasanna. I do believe this team could have won the series if they played to full potential.

Prasanna Kumar said...

Yes. Absolutely. But now after all the comments and attitude they are showing now after the second test, I am afraid this is going to be another white wash.

Harimohan said...

Prasanna, seems so. But I hope better sense prevails and the team gets together. There is no room for any ego to weaken the team spirit. At first sign such influences must be sent back home. Only by taking such decisions will the message be driven.

Ali Nawaz Juddy said...


I agree absolutely on the dressing room fiasco! I have in fact commented elsewhere on Cricinfo on the same. These were non issues blown out of proportion. It is as if all these people (players/coach/support staff/team director) were not in one room but scattered around the ground to have this miscommunication! Absolutely right about professional cricketers. I know for a fact the next batsmen coming in is also padded up and ready to go. Isn't? Kohli must have been ready too, since five minutes remained for the game to start. What if Dhawan had fallen first ball? Would Kohli then start putting on pads/gloves etc? These new players are spoiled rotten.

Hari, I have to disagree with you on India's bowling strength. Australia has a stronger bowling attack. But, yes, our batting is stronger! Much more so. My theory is, India should always go in with five bowlers in test matches. Even with seven batsmen, we tend to lose so why not strengthen the bowling?

I see the problem coming from the team director himself!! Shastri is an outspoken person and many egos must be hurt by now due to this outspokenness. I would blame the coach and the support staff for all the cricketing ills and the under performance. Bowlers are making the same mistakes, slip catching is still atrocious.

Best thing as you mention is to turn a blind eye to what is happening away from the ground and just concentrate on giving their best in the next two tests. The talent is there.

Harimohan said...

Ali, I agree. The next two tests can still see a turnaround if they can get their act together.