first_imgIt turned out to be a woeful English summer for the Indian cricket team, though captain Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri may want us to believe it was not so bad after all.Over a month ago, this writer had suggested in a column after the second Test, it may not be a bad idea for Kohli to focus purely on batting and consider relinquishing captaincy.Today, from the serious cricket critic to average fan who fancies himself as an expert, agrees Kohli’s batting was top class but his captaincy was wholly unimaginative. From selection of players to usage of bowlers, field placements and so on, Kohli lacked ideas. By the time the last Test approached, it was as if the team just wanted to return.Back home, Shastri is getting pilloried for his comments. To now suggest lack of warm-up matches was wrong, to say that only one player – Sam Curran – made the difference in England is rubbish. It was a great team effort by England with Alastair Cook signing off in style and fast bowler James Anderson emerging as the highest wicket taker.What happened in England was a disaster. No explanation will help and both Kohli and Shastri have to take the blame. Kohli has taken a break from the Asia Cup and for the next fortnight all talk will be about off-shore cricket set for the ‘greatest rivalry’ between India and Pakistan.Everyone knows what cricket in the Gulf (Sharjah) was in yesteryears. It was cricket plus Bollywood with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikhs loosening purse strings as benefit matches for cricketers from India and Pakistan was the theme. It was then called the CBFS – Cricketers Benefit Fund Series.advertisementThe Asia Cup will be an attempt to portray cricket in Dubai (not Sharjah) as more serious, where it is being played in demanding conditions. The heat in the Emirates has been merciless this time. On Saturday evening, even at local time 6pm the temperature was around 43 degrees Celsius. Reports from weather sites said in the morning, the visibility was down to 1,000 metres.Cricket in Dubai will be fun for many reasons and for the locals and expats from India it will be party time. Given the way cricket is played in the IPL, heat, dust and humidity, conditions may be similar in Dubai. The big difference is instead of a Twenty20 contest, this will be 50-over ODIs. Experts like Sourav Ganguly have predicted Indian stand-in captain Rohit Sharma will do well.For that matter, on tracks which could see runs being scored freely, even Shikhar Dhawan may score. Dhawan was a huge disaster in England and it was only in the last Test one opener, KL Rahul got among runs and smashed a ton.To be sure, today Indian cricket is rudderless. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a spectator and cricket is being run by the Committee of Administrators (CoA). Instead of setting the house in order, they have got involved in cricketing matters and made it worse. Today, when people are asking does Shastri deserve to be the coach, none has an answer to how Anil Kumble was ejected for no logical reason.The true cricket lover, and there are still many left, is hoping state cricket associations will set their houses in order, the BCCI will hold its elections, and eventually cricket will be run professionally.It would not be an exaggeration to state that all those involved with Indian cricket have their priorities mixed up. The CoA is clueless, the Test captain and coach are groping for ideas and there is no vision.The huge series in Australia awaits us and it will be a compelling watch. All of a sudden, Shastri is talking about wanting warm-up matches Down Under, as if that is a panacea for all the ills that plagued the team in England. Frankly speaking, the Indian bowlers were not so bad, initially in England, it was the batting which lacked frail. Kohli was stand-out but in a full Test series that did not suffice.Will the visionaries of Indian cricket plan for the series Down Under or are people looking at what will be the list of core probables for the ICC World Cup next summer in England. Cricket is being played non-stop, the commerce of cricket continues, and people in CoA now perhaps have more memberships in frequent flyer programmes!Yet, for the next fortnight, it will be the Asia Cup tamasha which will dominate headlines in newspapers and India vs Pakistan will be hyped up, as always. It was the same India vs Pakistan at the Asian Games for the hockey bronze medal. Be it hockey or cricket, India vs Pakistan contests are now meaningless.advertisementThere are challenges of Himalayan proportion ahead for Team India in Tests Down Under and the World Cup in England. Maybe, divine forces will intervene and help Indian cricket. That’s a fervent wish.last_img read more