Former Indian captain Nari Contractor and India stumper Farokh Engineer believe the current Indian batting line-up is ageing and that it is time to look ahead with young new faces.
By V.V. Subrahmanyam| The Hindu
On a private visit to the city in connection with the Parsi Community festival cricket tournament, 77-year-old Contractor feels that age is certainly catching up with some of the seniors who have put up exceptional service to the game and to Indian cricket. “No one doubts their class and contribution to Indian cricket. But, again, you have to respect age and accept the fact that the reflexes are waning. Even a fraction of second delay in judgement will lead to many problems, especially when you are batting,” he analysed.
“And, what really surprised is the way so many mistakes were being repeated by the batsmen. If you are to succeed in Test cricket, you should know where your off-stump is. This is the key to success at the highest level,” pointed out Contractor, who is now part of cricketing folklore for a remarkable comeback to play the game again despite being felled by a nasty delivery from Charlie Griffith in the tour game against Barbados on the 1962 tour to West Indies.
“There are no exceptions to these mistakes. Sachin is getting out to balls frequently coming back into him. Laxman and Sehwag are giving catches in the slip cordon regularly and even Dravid is getting bowled repeatedly. All sad signs of diminishing class of these great players,” said Contractor who played 31 Tests between 1955 and 1962.
“Essentially, I don’t think this Indian team is ready, or enjoy facing challenges. The end-result is the 3-0 drubbing,” the former India opener said.
For his part, Farokh Engineer said the failure of the openers had obviously compounded the misery of the middle-order. “But again, I do also feel that it is time for the young faces to come in. However, we have to be very careful as to ensure that there is perfect blend of youth and experience. Or else you can well imagine the scenario if all the three big guns of Indian batting – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V. V. S. Laxman – are out in one go,” says the flamboyant wickekeeper of yesteryears who played for India in 46 Tests between 1961 and 1975.
“I don’t think the Aussies bowling attack was unplayable as was the case in the past. I don’t think someone like Peter Siddle is like that. They are essentially length bowlers. In a way, we let the Australian bowlers come on top of us which I don’t feel they deserve to be,” analyses Farookh Engineer. “Overall, it has been a disappointing performance by Team India,” he added.
“Definitely, I was surprised by Dhoni’s captaincy. He was a negative guy on this tour and the agony for him piled on because of his failure with the bat. For some strange reasons, he was not playing his natural game. And honestly, wicket-keeping standards overall have declined of late in Test cricket. I don’t want to blame Dhoni alone for this for he was never a natural stumper,” Farokh Engineer said with a big smile.
What are the options right now? “Well, pick yourself up, play your heart out and try to learn as quickly as possible from the mistakes,” was the conclusion from Contractor and Farokh Engineer.