A mercifully slow day [mercifully, since I have a ton of running around to do, hence less time for blog], so will leave you for now with a clip from the cricket press.
Suresh Menon, writing in Mumbai Mirror, is not particularly impressed with the Indian fielding, which makes the writer the latest entrant to a rapidly growing club.
If the Vadodara performance is any indication, then Indian fielders have a problem with anticipation (even those near the boundary sometimes look surprised when the ball is played to them), with movement, with stopping the ball, with pick up and with throw. This is a series of shortcomings that makes a mockery of the art of fielding at the international level.
Praveen Kumar impressed with his batting, but India might have won the match well before the final over had he not given away easy runs by diving over the ball or reaching it late when Australia were batting.
Why do young, fit athletes struggle to bend so much? Or appear off balance when throwing? Is it time the Indian team laid down some qualifying rules – speed of foot, ability to hit the stumps and so on – before a player is considered for selection? Fielding is crucial in all forms of the game, especially the shorter versions, and India’s approach is embarrassing.
The reluctance to run shows itself while batting too. Well as Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar batted towards the end, they certainly sacrificed more than four runs while admiring their shots or assuming that the ball would go to the boundary or running only a single when with better planning they could have run two.
Good points. Our selectors and the team management have traditionally paid lip service to fielding standards [“VVS Laxman is a good batsman, but too slow in the field”] without ever applying that thinking across the board – perhaps it is time they put a premium on this aspect of cricket [incidentally, it is no coincidence that the better fielders also happen to be good runners between wickets].
Suresh mentions Praveen’s batting heroics and contrasts that with his ineptitude in the field. While watching Harbhajan take strike to the 50th over of the chase, I wondered if he was remembering with regret the last ball of the 49th over of the Australian innings. Mitchell Johnson heaved an off stump ball to backward square leg. Bajji, who was positioned there, reacted late – and even so, had the angle narrowed down enough that a simple dive would have cut the ball off. Instead, he escorted the ball; it went for four – and we ended up losing by four runs.
The Indian team has this “pack the batting” mindset, and operates on the philosophy that anything the opposition puts up, its own batsmen will hunt down. It is flawed thinking; regrettably, after a brief period when the side seemed to be aware of the importance of good fielding and running between wickets, we seem to be regressing to an earlier, more lackadaisical age.