Two tests have been lost and three players sacked but the question is: is this enough to take Indian cricket forward?
One more game remains to be played but irrespective of the result at Nagpur, there are important lessons to be learnt from the twin defeats at home.
One: The commonly held view that India is invincible at home stands shattered. That, now, is a thing of the past, a faded page from what was the golden era of Indian cricket history. England has proved India is beatable provided you play sensible cricket.
Two: Major reason for this is the extent of international cricket played. Because of this constant toing and froing players are more familiar with conditions across the world than before. Just as Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma have valuable first-hand experience of pitches in Australia and England, foreign players know what to expect in Kanpur and Kolkata.
Three: The IPL has contributed hugely in spreading education about India. For top players from foreign countries the IPL is a crash course about India, and when they come back for regular tours they are better equipped to cope with the challenges here. Not many English players feature in the IPL but KP, their star, is as much at home at Kotla as Sehwag or Gambhir.
Four: The harsh reality is Indian spin, after Kumble's retirement and Harbhajan's decline, is ordinary, if not mediocre. It scares nobody. How will Piyush Chawla turn the tide for us when he is struggling to get wickets in Ranji - his record over the past three years is nothing to write home about. ┬
Five: If teams want respect they need to play good cricket consistently in different countries. In his context, relying on home conditions, and pleading for conditions to be manufactured to suit the home team as Dhoni has repeatedly done, is a step back. The true test of a team is to tour overseas, and win, overcoming whatever conditions that may prevail.
Six: Indian batsmen, brought up on low-slow pitches, and raised on a stable feed of 20 over cricket , face a technical challenge when promoted to the next level. Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Abhinav Mukund, Murali Vijay have realised the transition from Ranji to Tests (especially overseas) is not easy to handle .
Besides the matter of adjusting to pace and bounce, there is also the issue of attitude and application. Except Pujara, other test hopefuls seem to lack patience to stay at the crease and wait for scoring opportunities. Instead they appear to be in a rush to put bat to ball, as if fearing the overs will run out.
Seven: Cricket today is more democratic than ever before, and┬ knowledge about preparation, strategy, technique is shared by all teams. In this era of openness and transparency there are no secrets - everyone knows what others know, and there is little that is not unknown.
Knowledge is spread by live TV coverage of games, and also exported through experts (coaches and support staff) who make their expertise available according to the dynamics of market forces. That is why Allan Donald (from South Africa) sat in the English dressing room for a while, and David Saker (from Australia) and Mushtaq (from Pakistan) continue to do even now.
When Gary Kirsten moves from India to South Africa he obviously carries with him first-hand knowledge and experience about India and Indian players.
Because of this, players get found out, their strengths understood and weaknesses exposed. Mendis baffled batsmen for a while but was sorted out in a while. Same with Sunil Narine who is less of a puzzle now than a year ago.
The ultimate lesson for India is that there is no short cut to excellence and consistent performance. This won't be achieved through a quick fiddle (of fixing the wicket) but a start can be made by an immediate focus, especially concerning players, on essentials such as zero tolerance on non-negotiable matters of fitness, attitude and commitment. ┬
Of course, going ahead there are tough decisions to be made, with emotion taken out of the equation when it comes to team selection.
Recently, Dhoni (correctly) made a sharp comment that umpires should do a better job as they are paid handsomely. Surely he will not object if the same yardstick is applied to selectors - and players!
Note: The author's views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of NDTV.
Story first published on: Monday, 10 December 2012 20:14 IST