Indian Cricket Team The enigma of “Swing and Seam”

Dr Rajan Kotru, Verinder Raina
The long-awaited crowning of the King at the cricket’s biggest and ultimate platform is over. Kiwis as New Zealand (NZ) Team is often referred to, have flattened the India Maharaja Elephant, fair and square. Though the world cup tag is given to the ODI-Format (One Day International) but we as cricketing nation as well as the global audience for cricket will tell us that it is the test cricket that separates boys from men, and it is here that cricketing acumen, skills, robustness and character of each team and each of its individual are tested to the hilt. Hence those who are abysmally upset on this last stage stumbling of our much revered and hyped Cricket XI like me, can take solace from Ghulam Ali’s classical ghazal “Hum Ko Kis Kay Gham Nay Mara Ye Kahani Phir Sahi, Kis Nay Tora Dil Hamara Yeh Kahani Phir Sahi”. The one’s who made big claims on our team’s might prior to the match have their heads and necks hidden in the sand have already put blame squarely on the unfavourable weather conditions playing the cunning devil’s role that has spoiled our party. Further, there are those who play to the gallery and made big statements prior to the game giving our cricket team a big “Thumbs Up” even before a ball is bowled can go back to commentary boxes and extol the cricketing virtues of our players that just does not deliver when it counts. These icons of Indian cricket had temerity to predict the David vs Goliath contest as too one-sided and that our team’s crowning-ceremonyin the test cricket was a mere formality to be wrapped up. Even for the upcoming bilateral series between India and England a cakewalk for our champion team is already predicted with one of our icons predicting a 4:0 verdict in the favour of India. Now that doom of losing one more ICC Trophy is settling, voices are loud that one game does not make a team bad, or there should be at least best of three finals etc. From Football world cup in 2014 we have a similar sequel. On the fateful night of July 8, 2014, Brazil lined up against Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, which was being hosted in Brazil with Brazil having a sure-shot”Hot favourite” tag playing in their backyard to maul Germany. What occurred in that match was no doubt the most shocking result in World Cup history as Brazil was utterly torn to pieces, 7-1, by the Germans. However, Brazil did not ask for the best of three semi-finals. Finally, there must be many of us who must be wondering if our players are high-up in the list of top rankings in all formats of the game, why they don’t end up the drought of India virtually having won no major ICC trophy since 2013. Our team players may have broken several records but have not been able to decode the mystery of why we lose when it counts most. That India has never actually done convincingly well against NZ in the past decade or so, shows the grit and determination of a team that thrives on self-discipline and faith in converting plans into reality. It is almost painful to note that number of cricket players registered in NZ may be even lesser than those registered in Gurgaon and NOIDA. However, NZ develops players through school cricket, community tournaments, domestic tournaments and onto the big league of international cricket and have a very good system on the monitoring of Coaches and their performance.
Now that swinging and seaming conditions of England have yet again proven to be the Achille’s Heal for our test cricketers, there should have been better planning before entering the final arena at the Southampton. NZ did it well to have two tests against England in advance while our team members were playing between themselves.
As we say, planning without execution is futile and executing without a plan is fatal. Hence the planning of playing swinging and seaming conditions when temperatures are down should actually happen in the country itself before we go to New Zealand or England known for such cricketing conditions. Rather than training in the southern terrain of our country before embarking on cricket tours, Indian players should be brought to mountains (e.g., Srinagar, Dharamsala, Chail etc.) to play under weather conditions similar to the above two playing nations especially between March and April and then again between October and November.Most of the countries before they send their teams and athletes to Olympics or any other World Championship Tournament actually train and test their members in high altitude conditions.
As non-cricketer, it may be too farfetched to criticize anyone particular for our solid defeat, but reality is that there was neither a well-carved out plan and nor was their execution to be seen. If we have pacers, then why did we make them warming the benches when it was known that first few days of the Finals will be rainy, windy and cloudy. Likewise, we often say play according to a situation in each session, then why did some players after having weathered the storm threw their wickets through lousy shots, and even if they knew bouncer or in/outswinger was not in the hitting zone. The next series against England is on the anvil, so let’s brace up for “Surprise”.
(The authors are Trestle Management Advisors)