NEW DELHI – Former India cricket greats have called for an overhaul of the test team and say the future of the veteran batting lineup must come under scrutiny following the humiliating 4-0 series defeat by Australia.
India has lost its past eight overseas tests, most by big margins, creating a consensus among fans and commentators that changes are overdue.
India was comparatively competitive in the opening test of the series in Melbourne but defeat there was followed by routs in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.
“If the Indian team had performed better in Melbourne and perhaps have won the match the result of the series could have been different,” former captain Sourav Ganguly told the Aaj Tak news channel. “If the team keeps losing like this, changes are inevitable.”
Sunil Gavaskar, who is considered along with Sachin Tendulkar as India’s best-ever batsmen, said the time had come to try younger players.
“If the team is going to get out for 160-odd, it’s better to do so with young players so that they can learn from experience and serve the country better in future,” Gavaskar was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.
Ravi Shastri, a former India allrounder, felt the senior players such as Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Virender Sehwag should be consulted about their future in the team but that age was “conspiring against them.”
“I do feel they need to be heard rather than shoved aside,” Shastri wrote in his column in The Times of India. “But it’s time they are asked about their future plans.”
Meanwhile, former Australia captain Ian Chappell blamed the losses partly on a national team set-up which gave too much power to the big-name players.
“The star players have held sway for too long and surely eight successive losses, some of them total capitulations, is confirmation the system is not working,” Chappell wrote in a column in Hindustan Times.
There was some joy for a veteran Indian player in Australia on the weekend, albeit in tennis, where Leander Paes won the Australian Open doubles title, as well as finishing as a runner-up in the mixed doubles.
The win completed a career grand slam for 38-year-old Paes, and his thoughts on the status of older players could apply to cricket as much as tennis.
“The most crucial aspect for consistent performance over a long period is the mental dimension,” Paes wrote in the Hindustan Times. “The legs can tire, but if the spirit refuses to cow down, then there really is no age limit for performance, I feel.”
India next plays two T20 games against Australia on Feb. 1 and 3 before figuring in a one-day tri-series also featuring Sri Lanka.