Sachin Tendulkar is not exaggerating when he says
these are bad times for Indian cricket.
The quote was in the context of the passing away of
one of the giants of Indian cricket, Polly Umrigar who
served the game so nobly in many capacities both on
and off the field.
There is still a pall of gloom hanging over the
cricket scene here following the team's abysmal
performance in the Champions Trophy. And frankly it is
hard to be optimistic with the tour to South Africa
starting on Sunday with the first of the five ODIs,
followed by three Test matches.
The sad fact of the matter is that India have yet to
win a Test match on South African soil after three
tours there, in 1992, 1997 and 2001. And there have
been only three wins in 16 ODIs against the hosts.
Considering the poor form of our batsmen and bowlers
over the last six months and the pacy nature of the
wickets that the South African authorities will surely
have in store for our team, no wonder optimism is
sadly lacking among even the most die-hard Indian
Of course India did make it to the final of the World
Cup when it was held in South Africa three years ago.
But the pitches were deliberately doctored to ensure
that batting was easy and that the bowlers sting was
It would not have suited the sponsors and TV channels
(almost all India-based) of the World Cup to have the
matches ending early and the ball dominating the bat
as occurred most unusually during the Champions Trophy
It's a different matter altogether when a bilateral
series is held and here it is the host's prerogative
to prepare tracks to suit their own bowling attack.
And with bowlers of the nature of Makhaya Ntini, Andre
Nel, Dale Steyn, Shaun Pollock and others of that like,
there can be no doubt that the Indian batsmen are in
for a torrid time.
Makes me wonder though why the foreign media and
visiting cricketers are so harsh on India when our
wickets are prepared to suit our traditional
strength --at least at home-- of spin bowling.
Steve Waugh went as far in his book as to condemn
preparation of such tracks in India, comparing it to
match-fixing. In that case the Australian board could
be labeled masters of the dark deed considering the
way the ball flies around at Brisbane and Perth!
Be that as it may, Indian batsmen have traditionally
struggled for runs when opposing fast bowlers have
conditions tailor-made for them and there is no doubt
they will be sorely tested this time around.
The one silver lining perhaps is the debacle India
suffered in New Zealand just months before the 2003
World Cup. Maybe it requires a dose of strong medicine
to turn things around again!