In the aftermath of India’s surrendering gesture in the just concluded Test series,like its a norm nowadays, lots of people have come up with lots of remedies.Some short term,some long term like more India A tours, bouncier domestic pitches, proper rotational policies etcetra etcetra. But the most prominent among those correctives is the call to find replacements for our ageing greats by grooming youngsters. Indeed an obvious and very practical solution. But if this is the only viable solution than cynic in me says be afraid,be very afraid because Indian cricket in the past has been as lousy in finding replacements as our politicians in running this beautiful country.
The greatness of a nation and the time it spends staying as the supreme power,both depends on its ability to keep churning out good players one after the other. Mind you I said GOOD players, not the seasonal ones. There has to be a second line of greatness hidden somewhere ready to be unleashed as soon as the guys in front of them start approaching their expiry date. This was the phenomenon which was enjoyed by both West Indies in 80′s and Australia from 90′s to early 2000 when they towered over all the other nations.
During 1970′s when the game of cricket was still considered a domain of Australia and England the world started noticing the emergence of a group of cricketers from Caribbean. Now its a known that the West Indies team dominated world cricket and became all conquering for the next 15 years because it had some of the most exciting cricketers the world has ever seen but what is also to be realised that the baton of might kept on changing hands from Rohan Kanhai to Clive Lloyd to Viv Richards as far batting was concerned while the menace and intimidation through the ball was ably managed by Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Malcom Marshal in the formative years of their dominace whose retirement brought little joy to opposite batsmen as Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop were ready in the wings. So basically whether you are a batsman or a bowler there was no respite unless you have a maroon cap on your head with WICB (West Indian Cricket Board) logo on it.
Towards the end of 1990′s West Indies were on a decline and it coincided with the rise of the Australian team who too like the West Indies of 1970′s and 80′s enjoyed a constant supply of some great players supported by some very good ones. For every Craig Mcdermott, Bruce Reid and Mike Whitney they had a Glenn Mcgrath, a Jason Gillespie or an Andy Bichel. So much so that they even had the replacement for the great Shane Warne. Stuart Mcgill never disappointed the selectors and went on to take more than 200 Test wickets in 44 matches at an average which is better than India’s number one spinner now.
Both Australia and West Indies started showing a decline once the marquee players began to retire and the replacements were not good enough. Unlike Australia and West Indies who reigned for a very long time India are showing signs to find replacements after perhaps just couple of years at the top. And that’s from where my apprehensions are emanating. We are not good at it. the replacement for a decent opener after the retirement of Sunil Gavaskar came after more than a decade and that too when a middle order bat was made to open as middle order had no vacancy. We are still looking for an all rounder, and its been 17 years since Kapil Dev retired. The spinner’s slot that became vacant once Anil Kumble hung his boots is available even after almost three years and what’s worse there are no takers and the main reason for that is no one cared to think what would happen once “jumbo” is gone. Perhaps Amit Mishra or a Pragyan Ojha should have been nurtured to take the responsibility. But then this has never been our style and it does not look if anything is changing because if that has been the case may be Cheteshwar Pujara was there in the squad.
The picture looks really glum but like always we will tide over it. No not because some drastic steps wouldbe taken but because we have so much of talent that good players just keeps on popping up. Now only if they can be properly groomed then perhaps when we are at the top again we can enjoy a longer stay at the top than 1 year 8 months and 7 days.
Related Cricket Highlights: