Cricket and India - Its the fielding stupid !
Some time before the world cup started, I suspected that this world cup would be one of the worst for India. No, not because I am an astrologer, but because of the simple fact that it was being played in the West Indies. I wonder why so many people had such unrealistic hopes from the team when our record abroad has been so miserable. This record abroad is even worse when it comes to stronger teams like Australia, South Africa, New Zealand. This triumvirate has succeeded in changing the game and raising it to a new level, by adding an element of athleticism to the game, which was never a factor pre 1990's. This combined with many changes brought about to speeden up the game, has ensured that subcontinental teams who have not adapted well to the dynamics have been seriously exposed, except on home soil, where they continue to enjoy a slight advantage, yet.
The new twenty -twenty format, will speeden up the game even further and demand far more athleticism, which I suspect would make matters worse for us.
Then there is a resurgence of new cricketing countries, all of which, play the same style of cricket like the triumvirate(emphasising athleticism and agility in the field). These so called minnows (Bangladesh- coached by a Australian, Ireland and Canada) have more then proved this world cup, that they will challenge the current status quo as it exists and severely test some of the nations in the top league, despite their battinng and bowling beinng nowhere in thee same league as us, man to man. I wouldn't be surprised if one or all of them move up and better India , at least in the one day and 20-20 version of the game, in the next 4-5 years.
The mistake we are committing is that we are (again) underestimating our opponents and the efforts they have undertaken to change the paradigm of the game. We are still stuck to thinking about cricket as a game between bat and ball, where as the game has moved on, to bring an element of the 'body' in it.
Considering it in this light, is it really surprising that India should loose so badly when all our Stars are on the wrong side of 30 and those who are on the right side, would be thrashed by even the senior most members of the triumvirate, when it comes to athleticism in the field?
This is not to say that our limitations in the field are alone responsible for our poor performance. Of course, it is a fact that, we also failed in our traditional strength of batting. But evenn this 'failure' was induced by the teams that defeated us, by tightening the screws in the field and bringing about an unbearable pressure on our batsman.
The game has truly changed. Now lets see when the BCCI will 'get it'?
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