Indian team flops against England, no one to ask why

Defeats in high-profile cricket duels are usually followed by a fixed set of events in India.

Published: 06th September 2018 04:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th September 2018 10:45 AM   |  A+A-

Hardik Pandya reacts as England's Sam Curran maers runs off his bowling during play on the third day of the 4th cricket test match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England. (File | AP)

Hardik Pandya reacts as England's Sam Curran maers runs off his bowling during play on the third day of the 4th cricket test match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England. (File | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  Defeats in high-profile cricket duels are usually followed by a fixed set of events in India. Among these are identifying problems in team combination and selection, reviewing performance to find out under-performing areas, dissection of strategy and finding faults with the captain and coach. The setback in England has generated usual reaction, with a vital part of the follow-up rituals missing. Unlike in the past, there is no BCCI at the moment to haul up senior members of the team management and ask what’s wrong.

The CoA running the board has a specific brief of overseeing adaptation of the new constitution. The acting office- bearers are confused about their roles and reluctant to ask questions expected from the heads of a parent body. The combination of these two factors has caused a vacuum at the top in BCCI, when it comes to evaluating performance and taking policy decisions if need be. One doesn’t have to go further back than 2014 to recall that the BCCI was a body proactive in such matters. Following the 1-3 Test series defeat in England, Ravi Shastri was made team director at the behest of N Srinivasan.

The late Jagmohan Dalmiya was famous for being constantly in touch with captains and coaches. In his brief stint at the forefront, Anurag Thakur too had shown interest in the functioning of the team. Not that Srinivasan, Dalmiya or Thakur were doing something exceptional. There were several BCCI presidents before them who had intervened and took steps when they felt things were not heading in the right direction. Some of these moves were well-planned and successful, some were not, but there was at least some evidence on show that the board was monitoring proceedings and willing to take corrective measures when needed.

This is missing in the makeshift arrangement, in place for over 19 months now. Promotion of personnel on the basis of performance in limited- over formats, an almost superstitious urge to change the playing XI in every Test, putting everyone in the batting department under trial all the time, persisting with five specialist batsmen in spite of the batting crumbling repeatedly and inevitably blaming the media rather than introspect — there are many questions to be asked of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri. The problem is, only the media are asking these questions.

The CoA chief Vinod Rai and member Diana Edulji at times hinted that performance would be evaluated, but there is no documentary evidence to suggest this was done. And to be fair to the CoA, it’s not their job to seek such explanations from the captain or coach. “There has to be some sort of checking mechanism to ensure accountability,” former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said. “Right now we have a situation where there is nobody to ask.

For a system to run well, people in the positions of power should know what’s going on. If need be, it’s their responsibility to remind those concerned that they can’t take certain decisions independently. In the existing situation, this is not happening.” Those who could have advised the CoA on how to go about it have decided to maintain distance.

The acting BCCI officebearers are quiet because according to them, the CoA didn’t like it when they tried to offer cricket-related suggestions and ignored them before taking decisions in consultation with the CEO and the BCCI Game Development Officers. This has caused an unprecedented lack of authority at the top. With the situation unlikely to become normal until the new constitution is implemented and a new set of BCCI officials are elected, which is expected in October, it’s difficult to expect anything other than ad-hoc measures like consulting the cricket advisory committee. atreyo@newindianexpress.com

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