New Delhi: "This is not England. This is India. The result will be different." shot back an angry Harbhajan Singh after being asked by a journalist whether they have it in them to beat England in the ongoing Test series, especially after the 4-0 drubbing they received at the hands of the same team a few months ago.
Nothing wrong in being confident. I too, like Harbhajan, believe that India should win the 4-Test series against England with ease. But, it's this new 'happy being lambs abroad as long as we are tigers at home' attitude that can be very dangerous for the future of Indian cricket.
Sample this, during two of India's most forgettable foreign tours in the recent past (England 2011 & Australia 2011-12), a 6 month period that saw MS Dhoni and his men go through the second longest losing streak in the history of Indian cricket, the statements made by the various team members ranged from -'we'll see how well these guys adjust when they come to India' to 'don't their batsmen struggle on our turf? 'to 'you must not forget we were the number one Test team in the world till a few days ago'
But as an ardent supporter of Indian cricket, these are the things I would have liked to hear from a team that was seething after having lost 8 consecutive Tests abroad -'we are hurt and will ensure this never happens again' or 'we will learn from this experience and come back stronger' or 'we can't wait to come back here in four years time and exact revenge'.
Unfortunately, none of these words were forthcoming. So, are we to believe that this Indian team is content with winning series only at home?
While I'm not suggesting that the current crops of Indian cricketers don't give their 100 percent on foreign tours. The problem lies in their non-acceptance of the playing conditions. It's this negative mindset which is a deterrent in them performing well overseas.
I would imagine, one of the main reasons why Rahul Dravid did well in England was because he always loved and admired the English conditions. Performing well there gave him a greater sense of pride and achievement than doing well in conditions more favourable to him. Sachin Tendulkar's phenomenal record in Australia can also be put down to his attitude of wanting to do well against the toughest opponents in the most difficult of conditions.
Would Australia have conquered their final frontier had they been satisfied after beating India 3-0 at home (1999-2000), exacting revenge for their 2-1 loss to India, in India, a few months ago? Instead, the Kangaroos made winning a Test series in India their ultimate goal; eventually tasting success four years later.
Having spoken to various members of that Australian team that won the Test series in India in 2004, I gathered one of the main reasons behind their success in India was their change in attitude towards Indian conditions. From a bunch of blokes who were allergic to the very sight of dry, brown coloured pitches, they were transformed into cricketers who embraced those very foreign conditions. They even made peace with the weather, a far cry from the Aussie teams of the past who never stopped whining about the heat and humidity they encountered while playing cricket in India.
I guess it's time our cricketing gods took a fancy to a few things foreign. And by that I don't mean Ed Hardy t-shirts, Diesel jeans & Hummer jeeps.