Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
Yesterday on one of the news channels, Indian cricket selector Ashok Malhotra was questioning why the press and public in general had any complaints when turning pitches were prepared in India but no one raised any issue when fast, bouncy wickets were prepared in Australia and South Africa.
I totally agree with him. Today every team looks to gain some advantage by preparing pitches to suit their strengths. Will Australia have the guts to prepare a turning track in Perth? Can you imagine the uproar if McGrath and Brett Lee have to bowl on a dustbowl in Adelaide?
In the same manner, it will be totally stupid if we provide South Africa with fast tracks in the tests in Mumbai and Bangalore, knowing fully well that Donald, Pollock and Hayward will only relish such a "lottery".
Why is it that nobody comments that the world at large, especially England and South Africa are very poor against spin? England has not won a series in India since 1984. South Africa has never won in India. In fact, India has not lost a test series at home since 1987. So why do we have to feel ashamed? Yes we do not win abroad but the same holds true for other sides as well - they do not win in India. Fair enough.
However this does not mean we should not try and improve. We must have a long-term plan since haste makes waste. No point is suddenly providing... fast and bouncy tracks in the test matches - our batsmen are not ready yet.
The Board must provide faster wickets for all First-class games. Only then will the batsmen graduating from Ranji Trophy to Test level have the required skill to play abroad. Otherwise the same results will continue for another 15 years - tigers at home, lambs abroad.
On the subject of pitches, spinning tracks and bowling, I wonder why MRF is spending so much money trying to "manufacture" pace bowlers. The pace foundation is nearly 15 years old now. What are the returns?
Can MRF Pace Foundation name 3 bowlers in 15 years they have produced? They boast of Srinath and Prasad but I know their backgrounds. They are not MRF products. Srinath played for India on the strength of his own performances. Later he may have visited the foundation to avail of the practice facilities.
Prasad was already playing for Karnataka when he entered the Foundation. Yes his being an "MRF" lad helped him push his way into the Indian side. And to his credit he has done well for himself, but that's it.
I think the only person who has benefited is a Mr D.K. Lillee who leant his name to the Foundation and must have made loads of money, but the Indian cricket team has not benefited.
Even for arguments sake if we agree that Srinath and Prasad are "MRF boys", s that a good return? Two bowlers in 15 years! It is time MRF think of a new way of attracting publicity for their company - a spinners academy?!
Well, to my mind a spinners academy makes more sense. A world Class spinner will be able to get wickets in all conditions, even abroad. Just look at Shane Warne. He has got wickets in every country except India!
That should prove a point. We have some of the greatest spinners in Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrashekar whose services could be obtained to coach worthy talent. I am certain in five years time we can have a couple of good spinners who can trouble the best batsmen away from home as well. On wickets abroad, good spinners will do well as there is enough bounce in them.
In another important development, Sachin has resigned from captaincy but will continue as captain until the end of the test series against SA. Most probably Saurav Ganguly will succeed him and to his good fortune India play their next 11 tests at home which is the best thing that a new captain could have hoped for. Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE
February 24, 2000
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.For a listing of past columns by Arjun Raja, please Know more.