Home support or sportsmanship, Indian cricket’s conundrum

Every June when India tours England or every Boxing Day if the Men in Blue happen to be in Australia, the cricket team has often suffered the blues.
There have been only two ways of looking at it: One, prepare to face the chin music by preparing similar tracks back home. On the other hand, when the same teams come visiting, turning tracks be dished out for revenge in the Indian style.
Accepted wisdom and following it practically though has not been as straightforward as that.

The tour by South Africa has been a harsh litmus test. Having lost the Twenty20 series, the smarting Indians needed to win the fifth ODI in Mumbai. Having scraped through the first four, morale was at stake too along with the pride factor.

Sudhir Naik, one of the most innocent and upright curators you can find in a country like India, did not help matters by coming up with a sporting pitch. India lost badly causing Ravi Shastri to hit back and Sanjay Manjrekar, all from Mumbai, to defend Naik and BCCI mandarins were not impressed either.

Which brings us back to the original ‘damned if do, damned if we don’t’ question. In the corridors of world cricket’s superpower, where every cent of money accounts for a power struggle for the chair, where are the decisions that matter Indian cricket’s development at the core?

If the periods between June and Boxing Day have been allowed to drift and no preparations for the Indian team to play on bouncy wickets, is it the curator’s fault?

And if the approach is to improve the win-loss ratio on dusty bowls in larger home series  – where seven ODI matches at the costs of Tests is becoming the norm – then the message accordingly needs to be passed down the chain of all state associations and venues.

It has to be a clearly established one-way street and not leave it as subject to the interpretation, beliefs and ideologies of those in charge of the 22-yard strip.

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