The below first appeared on the http://www.thefulltoss.com in December 2012.
‘In 1882, following England’s first Test defeat by Australia on English soil, a British newspaper famously published an obituary for English cricket. It included the brilliant line:
“the body [of English cricket]will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”. A group of Melbourne WAGs proceeded to burn some bails, and the noble Ashes were born.
India’s 2012 defeat by England, on home soil and despite many advantages, is a similarly momentous moment in the history of our game. Much was in India’s favour: they faced an England team which had proven itself desperately poor against spin bowling, under a new captain, and struggling with much publicised internal strife.
India, on the other hand, possessed the second best batsmen ever to play the game, wickets tailored to exploit their perceived spin advantage, and a DRS-free series (MS Dhoni has struggled with DRS reviews and Indian batsmen are said to benefit from its absence via the “benefit of the doubt” rule).
Despite all of this, and a Machiavellian plot by Indian administrators to ensure England faced no spin bowling whatsoever in the warm up matches, India were defeated at home for the first time in 28-years.
How was such a humiliation possible? Well, it turns out that their seamers are weaker than Afghanistan’s, their fielding comparable with the much maligned Pig & Parrot Invitational XI (the Outer Hebrides only pub team), and their spinners now poorer than Xavier Doherty.
How far must the nation of Bedi fallen, for us to be able to write such a thing?
Additionally, there has also been – to borrow the witty words of Cricinfo’s Sidin Vadukut – substandard batting, incompetent captaincy and fan angst at the teams failure to win a world cup since 2011.
Some Indian fans are responding to their defeat -shellacking may be a better term – by blaming the very ordinary umpiring of HDPK Darmasena. Granted, the man has had a poor series, and his status as the current “best umpire in the world” would seem to make as much sense as the BCCI’s stance on technology, but England have suffered from his errors too. Witness Captain Cook’s two awful dismissals in this most recent test.
Some have (quite reasonably) argued that India are desperately poor at the top of the order and that this is a crucial area in Test matches: the previously excellent Gambhir averages only 30 over the last 3 years, and Virender Sehwag is a 34 year old in a 54 year old’s body.
Personally, I’ve never liked Sehwag at the top of the order on the grounds that he cannot play swing bowling and – even when the man comes off and hits a brilliant 20-odd – this innings is so brisk, that the batsmen who must follow inevitably have to start against a new ball.
Virender Sehwag fails at the opening batsmen’s first task: to see off the new ball. At his best he would have been a superb, Gilchrist-like, late middle order batsmen. He is now far from his best. He looks like Inzamam U Haq, but without the talent. Or perhaps a poor man’s Dwayne Leverock.
Other’s are pointing out that India are a magnificent limited overs team. This may very well be the case, and India may well win their two Twenty20 games against a scratch England squad. But this is not really the point. T20 is comedy cricket. So what?
When it comes to Test cricket, the very pinnacle of our sport, India have been weighed, India have been measured – and they’ve been found wanting.
Enough is enough. The time has come to withdraw India’s test status on the exceedingly plausible grounds that they simply aren’t good enough. If the BCCI behave, and give all their money to a charity (a county championship div two side perhaps) we might readmit them – but only when they’re good enough to give Zimbabwe a game.’