Australia & India : Introspection is the need of the hour

Finally it is over. The Ashes are signed, sealed and delivered to England for the keep for couple of years. Even if I have not been as “foot-in-the-mouth” as Glenn McGrath to suggest a 5-0 whipping of the Poms, I didn’t expect England to inflict 3 innings defeat on my favorite team.

Now that the Aussies have gone through the pain, it is time to start planning on conquering the pain.

Aussies have been quick to admit that England was far superior in this series and that’s good news.  Any improvement has to begin from admission of facts. Also both Clarke and Ponting have admitted to their failures as batsmen. The fixing of the problem has to start from there.

On the bowling front the problem has been the lack of variety.  The combination of one honest bowler (Siddle), one mercurial (Mitchell Johnson) and one ordinary (Hilfenhaus) clearly hasn’t delivered the results. It is unlikely to deliver in the future as well.

Despite calls for his exclusion, I am of the view that Mitchell Johnson needs to be persisted with.  His fast bowling compatriots can be chosen from a vast pool that Australia boasts so that’s not so much a problem as it is with the spinning option.

Australia’s real problem in this series has been the lack of a quality spinner who could slow things down and also take wickets. The exclusion of Nathan Hauritz has been a puzzle as much as the handing of the cap to Beer merely on the recommendation of Shane Warne.

One redeeming aspect of the series has been the fact that the fielding levels hasn’t really dropped, so there shouldn’t be too many worries on that count.

The loss also emphasized the importance of preparation ; England played no less than 3 tour games before the first test at the ‘Gabba.  It is something that the self-obsessed Indian cricket board could learn from.

Despite the Ashes reversal, I am in no mood to switch loyalties though my respect for England has grown manifold. The loss has only reiterated the message that there’s no one greater than the game.

The golden period of Australia could certainly return but this is not the time to see the ‘big picture’. This is the time to do an encore of the Allan Border – Bob Simpson regime : Getting the basics right and working on the building blocks.

While Australia was struggling on their home turf, India managed to retain their position thanks to 3 factors : Wet pitches, Laxman and absence of UDRS.  With UDRS, Durban test could have gone the SA way but that doesn’t take the credit away from what Sreesanth did in the first innings and Laxman in the second.

India managed to hold on but they should seriously introspect about 3 things

a)      Is this how they want to play as No 1 test side in the world ?

b)      What is the replacement plan for Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar ?  If they don’t think ahead, then the same fate as the Aussies await them.

c)       From where are they going to get real bowlers and how long will Zaheer hold fort ?

 

The obvious discomfort of all players save Tendulkar in the first match at Centurion is a clear indication of the fact that the “short ball monkey” is not off the Indian backs.  Also I wish that the Indian board starts respecting the Test matches and not see the game as just an ATM machine.

Both Australia and India need introspection ; In the case of Australia it is obvious and I hope Dhoni & Co don’t lull themselves into believing that they have silenced their demons – they haven’t.

While India has to really think in terms of taking the process forward, in the case of Australia they have to fight to regain their glory

If ever the Aussies needed the proverbial phoenix to rise from the Ashes (pun intended) this is the time.

About hariharanbond
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