My Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘World Cup 2023

Australia early in the 90’s was going through a transition of sorts. Allan Border, Dean Jones, Geoff Marsh, Craig McDermott, Merv Hughes, Mike Whitney and David Boon were all in their last legs. While rest of the world might be worried losing so many established all together at the same time, Australia weren’t. Australia’s talent in the 90’s is something which the entire world was envious about. They had Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Paul Reiffel, Jason Gillespie, Justin Langer etc were waiting in the wings. They were so strong that they could actually assemble two international quality teams at the same time and still challenge any team in the world.

Australia for a while at home actually played Tri-Series with Australia and Australia A competing with an international team at home where the two home teams ended up playing the finals. Such was the talent Australia possessed at that time. While so much talent is exciting, the way you use the talent at your disposal is important. While Australia were forced to make wholesale changes with the team with the Waugh brothers and Mark Taylor being the anchors, the way Australia used the talent they at that time is something to be marvelled about. They always picked the right people needed and backed the right talent which meant they were at the top for the next 2 decades.

When you have such a vast talent at your disposal, not everyone is going to get a chance to play for the National side. Even for example for Australia bowlers like Damien Fleming, Michael Kasprowicz, Paul Reiffel etc ended up playing way lesser games than they should have but again they filled the team needs when needed during their dominance.

The Indian team right now are in a similar phase like the Australian team of the early 90’s. India are in an enviable position with abundance of talent at their disposal. When you have so many amazing players to choose from the selectors and the team management need to make sure they are doing the right thing and select the right players for the right format. The biggest success of Australia was their cut throat selections. They never shied away from dropping players who were not performing or for selecting players with talent irrespective of their age. For example Matthew Hayden made a comeback at the age of 29 and became one of the best openers for Australia for the next decade. Michael Hussey made his debut at 30 and became one of the best players in the world.

When you have lots of talent to pick from the one thing you need to do is to shut the outside noise and think what will be best for the team. This is something the Indian selectors and the team management have failed to do over the past few years. It is all good having the richest league in the world and having best young players in the world but again if you don’t pick the right candidates in the squad it will amount to nothing. Not every talented player is going to make the national side but again the right people should always play. This is something which the Indian management need to realise. Just because you have lots of players to pick from the team cannot keep changing every series.

The clarity in selection and picking the right combination is what kept Australia on top for 2 decades which I don’t see from the Indian management. The confusion of picking experience versus young talent is what the Indian think tank are going through over the past few years. The reason for India not doing well in world tournaments can be attributed to picking wrong combination for the conditions they were going to play in. India have a great chance to dominate world cricket like Australia did for a long time but they haven’t been able to do so due to the selection blunders. This is not a phase which will last for long like Australia found out over the last decade or so. There will be time when you will struggle to get good talent coming through. There will be a phase when you might find it difficult to find replacements but before that happens you need to make most of the situation.

India right now are right now at the cusp of greatness and with some clarity in selection they can actually achieve that. The last couple of series have shown some promise and the hope is only that it is not a false dawn. This is the year of World Test Championship and the 50 over World Cup. India have a chance to win both and stamp their authority on World Cricket. No other team possesses the kind of talent India does and it will be shame if the team does not make full use of it.

2023 is an important year of all teams as they prepare for the marquee event. Every series and every game is viewed as preparation of the major tournament and to iron out flaws with the team combination. India is no different. In 2022 the biggest criticism the Indian team received was that they tinkered with the team combination too much. The team tried to play too many games and by trying to use their enormous talent pool, they just created too many versions of the same LO team. The result was there to see as India struggled to come up with one proper T20 side and the confusion caused an unbalanced team for the World Cup once again.

This is not the first time India have done something like this, the 2021 T20 WC and the 2019 ODI WC were products of the same confusion which led to confusing team selections in important games. So far in 2023 India seems to have steered clear of such confusions. The selectors and team management seem to be displaying much clearer thinking than the past years and it is showing with some consistent selections in this format. Even though there are a few spots still to be confirmed the skeleton of the team looks much more consistent that in 2019.

India were never going to be challenged against a struggling Sri Lanka team at home but again the focus was as to how the team was going to perform and if they can be ruthless. The answer to that question was provided by a very clinical and ruthless win at Thiruvananthapuram last night. The batting on a pitch which isn’t considered as the best in India was phenomenal and the bowling capped off a perfect day for the home team. The biggest positive for India other than Virat Kohli is the faith shown by the team management on Shubman Gill as the opener. Gill has been brilliant over the last year or so and for sure deserved a chance to partner Rohit Sharma in this format. He showed why ODI is his best format once again by scoring 207 runs in the series with a century and a fifty.

The biggest positive for India in regards to the batting is the form of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Virat Kohli has been in tremendous white ball form for the past few months and the fact that he is scoring hundreds again should please both the fans and the management. Virat Kohli scoring runs at number 3 is a huge boost for the Indian top order. Rohit Sharma as well has looked in great nick since he made his comeback after injury. He has been aggressive at the top and will be disappointed to not convert those starts into a big one. Rohit seems to have formed a great partnership with Shubman Gill and hope India do not tinker with that combination.

The other big positive for India has been the consistent selection of the bowling attack. Mohammed Siraj has once again proven that he is India’s best LO bowler presently. He swings the new ball and picks wickets in the power play which is what India lacked in white ball formats. Mohammed Shami is a question mark still but he has been decent with the ball. India also will be happy with the performance of Umran Malik, who has bowled with lots of pace and has picked wickets in the middle overs. Hardik Pandya has looked good as well even though he did not pick too many wickets. Kuldeep Yadav making a comeback and picking wickets again is a huge plus for the Indian bowling attack as wickets in the middle overs will be crucial in the world cup.

There are still a few things the Indian team needs to iron out. KL Rahul despite his very good 60 odd not out is still a question mark as he hasn’t been that consistent over the last year or so. The selection of Surya Kumar Yadav is also another thing India needs to address as he is an impact player in white ball formats. Ishan Kishen who scored a double hundred in his last ODI game also needs to be in the picture as he provides a left-hand option at the top of the order. While India do need to try out different combinations in the lead up to the World Cup it is imperative that India decide on their best XI as well. Jasprit Bumrah will return soon and so will Ravindra Jadeja and India would need to pick the right attach for the tournament.

Right now as far as the pace attack goes only Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah are a lock for the WC playing XI. Hardik Pandya will be the pace bowling all-rounder but again India need to pick from a host of pacers for the rest of the spots. Mohammed Shami has been patchy and his fitness is a huge issue. Arshdeep Singh provides India with a left-arm variation but again he hasn’t played too may ODIs. Umran Malik has been brilliant with his express pace and needs to be persisted with. So quite a few headaches for the Indian team management. The spin combination also needs to be finalised with 3 finger-spinners probably vying for two spots in the squad. Washington Sundar & Axar Patel are probably fighting for one spot in the squad as Ravindra Jadeja when fit will walk into the playing XI. Chahal & Kuldeep will mostly be the two wrist spinners as India haven’t tried too many others in recent times.

India will need to avoid the mistakes of their previous selection debacles and make sure that right people are selected in the WC squad. This series for sure has provided India will a great insight as to who those players might be but again the team management should make sure that there isn’t too much of chopping and changing of the core players to maintain the consistency ahead of the tournament.


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