The Englishmen completed the formalities at the Eden Gardens and though it was too early for them to pop the bubbly, they would surely have spoilt the pleasure of lunch for MS Dhoni and the Indian selectors. The temptation to dissect their decisions is irresistible, but given the prevailing circumstances they could not have done any better. They will definitely need to do something in the near future, as they cannot concede the patience that seasoned cricketers are pleading for from them. The first and foremost issue that needs to be addressed is the captaincy - the biggest problems start from here.
They cannot maintain the status quo as Dhoni has been given a long rope by any standards. The time has come for both Dhoni and the selectors to move on, and the lack of suitable options cannot be a reason to retain him in the next Test series. Sandeep Patil and company are handicapped by the fact that the likes of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have not been in the best form in recent times, which means that they need to see if they can identify a youngster and hand over the reins.
Had Virat Kohli kept up his form in this series, he would have been a serious contender. Unfortunately that was not to be, and the selectors need to get thinking caps that not only fit well but also work better. The million-dollar question is what is it they can do? They can create a furore and look back, if only to steady the ship temporarily. If they have to go back, what are the choices available to them, and what good will it do to the team and the individual?
The one option available is to give the reins to Sachin Tendulkar once again. Don't let your jaws drop, folks, before I explain why I suggest this option. I know that most Indian cricket followers are keen to know his future plans, but one can rest assured that the selection committee will not muster the steel to drop him. That being the case, the surest way to stoke the embers in Sachin's belly is to give him the captaincy for a period of six months to a year and try to resurrect the team.
He has been accused of not stirring the pot enough, and this is the best way to force him to do what is in the best interests of the team. The master's lack of form will be pointed out, but Dhoni's form has not been earth shattering either. The aura of Tendulkar will ensure that the entire team goes in the same direction. A different successor to Dhoni may get undermined.
The much-awaited chat between the selectors and Tendulkar is yet to take place, and this possibility is worth a chat. Besides, no better farewell can be accorded to Tendulkar than making him captain for the final chapters of his career. He needs to be given a young deputy to groom, and this is where the selectors need to have the chutzpah to back the right guy, like South Africa did with Graeme Smith or Australia did with Michael Clarke.
The argument will be that an youngster can be given charge straightaway in the next series, but let's not forget that India have struggled even at home without VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid. The late Tiger Pataudi was reported to have said in 1974-75 that he was the right man if the team needed a leader and some runs when India were 0-2 down against West Indies. Similarly, at this point in time, India needs Tendulkar to provide direction as a leader, and reinvigorate the dressing room.
If he can do it as he exits the scene, he would have done the greatest service to Indian cricket. Some may deem going back to Tendulkar a retrograde step, but desperate situations call for desperate measures.
Story first published on: Monday, 10 December 2012 12:08 IST