One of the many things that the Indian cricket fans heard before the first Test was that the Indian team had prepared well for the Test series. After all, the claims were not actually out of place. India had played a couple of two-day games against representative Australian sides and played with some dominance. Its batsmen had been among runs and its bowlers were looking fast and fit, to quote skipper Virat Kohli. However, as things have contrived in the first couple of days in the Adelaide Test, one needs to ask if the preparations were actually of the top drawer or not.
Before deciding on the quality of preparation one important question needs to be asked. What is preparation? Is it just warming up and getting acclimatised to the conditions or is it going full pelt against the best possible opposition to get you ready for the upcoming encounters. If it is the earlier one then India has prepared well but if it is the latter then some questions need to be asked.
Conditions at Adelaide
As unfortunate as it may sound, India played at Adelaide where the conditions can be said to be the most un-Australian – there is no pace, hardly any bounce and the pitch takes turn from the third or fourth day onwards. These are conditions that the players would have got in India itself – if India were indeed serious about preparation maybe it should have played at a location like Hobart or Perth, where the pitches assist the bowlers.
Secondly, the quality of players who turned out for the representative teams left a lot to be desired. While all of them are promising it is hard to imagine anyone of them getting close to the national team in the foreseeable future. Cricket Australia needs to be questioned over here. As a host nation you are supposed to provide visitors every possible help to get them prepared rather than assembling a team from the leftovers of domestic cricket and pass them off as promising. While as a visiting team India could do very little in this regard, it can still ask the Australian board to ensure that quality opposition is picked so that the preparation is more thorough.
As things stand on the first day the Indian bowlers sprayed the ball all over and all the Australian batsmen – well, most of them – made merry. This has been a perennial problem with Indian bowlers in the last couple of years – whenever they see conditions good for fast bowling they try to maximize it and in the process hand over the advantage to the opposition. The question is why are they not asked to be so greedy and instead stick to the line and length policy that serves them well on pitches back home. Who will do this for them?
India needs good bowling coaches
India desperately needs a fast bowling as well as a spin bowling coach – the likes of Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble are not too far away and have to be appointed as soon as possible. Nowadays most coaches in international teams – especially in specialist positions, are successful former international cricketers. It is the norm and this is why it is hard to understand why such former international players are not being approached. Bharat Arun and Duncan Fletcher may be great from a theoretical perspective but they have not played a significant amount of international cricket to know what works and what does not at this level. This is the reason a fresh breath of air is needed – Ravi Shastri needs to be made the whole time director and Rahul Dravid needs to be brought in as the batting coach. The coaching structure needs to change.
There is a misplaced belief among the board officials in India that the team is best in the world. While they have some statistics to back them up, India’s record in overseas tours has been abysmal to say the least. This is why it is imperative that the board acknowledges this and makes proper planning to avoid such unsavory repetitions. Otherwise such problems would continue to haunt the national team and the players will be the ones poorer for it.