The main problem with the cricket team is that there are no bowlers to replace our injured ones
Cricket enthusiasts and experts alike, vociferous in their demands for the exit of the seniors of the team—Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman—have now fallen silent. All three legends of the game have now retired (Tendulkar only from ODIs) and yet the Indian team has been performing abysmally. Not only has our record abroad over the last two years been disastrous, but even at home where we were once nigh-invincible, we have been consistently losing. The latest blow, an ODI series loss at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan, underscores this trend. So, what happened? How has a team that won two World Cups and reached the top spot in Tests in the last five years dropped to such levels? And, more importantly, was this fall from grace expected? According to BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale, the fall was indeed expected—he argues that no team can maintain the level of excellence India showed in the years leading up to the 2011 World Cup. And, he said, it is unfair to expect the youngsters of the team to immediately start performing like the greats who have left the game behind.
However, while this may be true, the fact of the matter is that the Indian team is sorely lacking in bench strength—notably in bowling. At the moment, three strong contenders for a bowling slot in the team—Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and S Sreesanth—are injured. Try as they might, the BCCI and the selectors have so far been unable to find viable alternatives for these bowlers. One of the positives of the IPL was that it allowed young cricketers to play alongside international players, thus lending them experience and expertise. But so far, we’ve seen little to show for it. Similarly, a renewed enthusiasm for the Ranji Trophy has also failed to produce results. Unless the BCCI can address this problem, of an empty bench, the hopes of the Indian cricket team will continue to be hostage to injuries.