Mumbai: 0-2 down in the series and following a lacklustre performance in the Lord’s Test against Joe Root-led England, Indian cricket team, led by Virat Kohli, and head coach Ravi Shastri have come under intense scrutiny from all quarters.
While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Committee of Administrators (CoA) have made it clear that they are not too pleased with India’s showing, former cricketers – Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly, Bishan Singh Bedi, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman – have voiced their concerns following India’s dismal show in the second Test.
While the fans too are not pleased, former India cricketer and ex-chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil has criticised the Indian team.
Kohli, before the Indian team left for England, was asked about his plans and targets about the tour.
“I was asked this on the last tour of England as well. I said I want to walk around and have coffee. So my thinking is different when I go on tour as I try to literally to enjoy the country,” Kohli had said during the pre-departure press conference.
Patil took on Kohli’s pre-England tour “coffee remark” and said that the Indian cricket team seems to be enjoying their coffee in England.
“Seeing the performance of the Indian team in the first two Tests so far, the team really seems to have taken their skipper’s statement seriously – they are truly only enjoying the coffee in English conditions. Nobody likes criticism but if a team performs this badly then they should also be ready to face the reality, facts and the criticism,” Patil wrote in his column for The Quint.
“In earlier days, it was grilled in our minds that we needed to watch, improve, practise hard, follow the senior players, learn from them and take their advice. But instead of taking the advice of players who have been on multiple tours of England, and have succeeded, Virat Kohli’s team seems happy to be enjoying the country’s coffee. In fact, if I look at the Indian captains who toured England, Ajit Wadekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Azhar, none of them ever made such an irresponsible comment on the eve of such an important tour,” added Patil.
Patil also came down heavily on India’s break during the tour approach, an issue which Gavaskar also raised. While there was around two weeks interval during the first Test and the final ODI of the three-match series, India just played one practice match, even which was reduced to a three-day affair instead of a four-day game, and later took five-day rest before the Edgbaston Test.
“I would like to remember my first tour of Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji Islands. It was a four-and-a-half-month-long tour but our captain Sunil Gavaskar never took a break and never allowed any member to take a break. The entire four-and-a-half months we were thinking about cricket, we were talking about cricket and we were playing cricket,” wrote Patil.
“During the two months of the 1982 tour of England when again Sunil Gavaskar was our captain, nobody was allowed to take a break, including the captain himself. The 1984 tour of Pakistan was again a month-and-a-half long but nobody took a break. During the 1986 two-month tour of England under Kapil Dev’s captaincy, nobody took a break and the outcome was that we won the series,” said Patil before adding, “We were playing cricket and we were practising cricket. But now, the players are playing cricket but without practice and the outcome is in front of you.”
While the packed international cricket calendar and its impact on the cricketers has often been a point of debate, Patil played down that notion.
"The international calendar nowadays is too tight. Today’s cricketers play only international matches but in the 70s, 80s and 90s we played club cricket, office cricket, domestic cricket, international cricket and also practised hard in between all those matches. Be it the great Gavaskar, Kapil, Vengsarkar, Amarnath or later, Azhar, Sachin, Sourav, VVS Laxman, Kumble or Dravid, cricket has seen many changes in the last four decades but if you don’t practise you will never achieve the goal. Talk less, practise more and play cricket is my advice," concluded Patil.