It all began with the famous comeback of all times against Australia in 2001 till the fine victory on Pakistan soil in 2004. There have been moments in between the two, that we will always cherish:
- The Natwest Final 2002 chase of 324 marked by young guns Yuvraj & Kaif
- The Headingley victory, Rahul Dravid will vouch for a fact that the hundred in those Day 1 conditions was worth a triple
- The string of victories at the World cup post the debacle in NZ. We actually looked good to beat the Aussies, but never mind the final loss
- The fine battle with Aus in 2003 to retain the Border -Gavaskar Trophy
The loss against Australia in 2004 at home started it all. Frankly, we haven’t come anywhere close to what we were from 2001-2004. The worst part was the farewell we gave to John Wright, the one man who was responsible for the change in our attitude along with you, the loss to Pak in the ODI series at home and the draw in the test series. It has just been downhill since then. Obviously, we know it is collective failure on the part of the whole team and not you alone.
It is a testing time for Team India, a time when it is adjusting to a new coach, trying to see off its past demons and unsure of the captaincy. You are back in charge for the Zimbabwe series. You have lead the team for 5 years now, seen the worst and best performances. This was not the appropriate time to make the statements you did yesterday. It bodes well for none. As optimistic as I can get, I’m hoping though that it’s been hyped by the media but surely there is no smoke without fire.
I have to disagree with some of the statements you made. We support you but not blindly! The one thing you had which other Indian captains lacked is the quality to speak your mind. But this time you have gone needlessly too far.
"A hundred is a hundred".
Agreed. But if you are going to count this one, as the one from which your team should seek inspiration and look up to you, you have got it completely wrong. Just as no one will hype your hundred against Zimbabwe’s current bowling attack (It is mediocre at its best), no one will thrash you down if you fail against the likes of McGrath, Warne or Harmisson. You are expecting us to hail this innings of yours? Even you know, you were not at your best, actually you haven’t been at your best in a long time. Consistency is getting a century in every series. If not that, atleast three-four 50s in the series. Sachin and Rahul have achieved that.
Cosistency Dada, Consistency is the key! And consistency is not about getting runs against weak bowling attacks and getting a hundred in 2 years!
"I have scored close to 1000 runs in last 16 innings."
To give you benefit of the doubt I shall exclude the innings where you did not bat. India does not play as many tests as Australia does. And the last 16 innings mean that one is looking at the last two years. In your last 16 innings (excluding the ones where you DNB) you got 630 runs which include the hundred runs against Zimbabwe yesterday. You got five 50s, of which 2 have come against Bangladesh.
Statistics do not reveal all, but they certainly do not lie. 630 is no where close to 1000. If you think it is, then you seriously need to go back to school and get your Maths straight. Three 50s against Aus, Pak and SAF is not a great achievement. If you were not captain of India, you know you would have been on your way out by now.
Here is your batting performance year-on-year and opponent wise. I’ve not made it up. What is missing is the big performances against the big guys of international cricket. An average of 32 against Australia and that of 27 against Pakistan and South Africa.
"People had asked me to step down as the captain"
So people wanted you to step down as captain. As if you cared? What happened after your debut ? You came back in 1996 and slammed everyone in their faces by a memorable debut. People were after your life post the Mumbai test in 2001, what did you do then? Gave the Aussies back in their own face and stood by your team and led India to victory. The Natwest final, when your team was down and out, you still had the belief and finally gave back to the Poms, in the same manner as they had when they were here in 2002 Jan-Feb series.
You have never brought out the negativity surrounding the team or internal matters to the press. Why are you doing it now? What do you want to achieve? Your supporters will support you no matter what, but this sort of careless behaviour is not expected from you! You will lose the few you have, if go on making such statements. Don't get into a self-denial mode. That's the worst one can do. You have a problem on hand, go back to the classroom, and deal with it. You have not yet sorted out the short-pitched delivery, see your last few dismissals. Deal with your problems, and show the improvement on field.
No individual is indispensable in cricket. We lost Gavaskar & Vishvanath, we gained Tendulkar and Dravid. Aussies continued to win post Steve Waugh era. A captain is as good as his team. If this game relied on individual brilliance, India should have been at the forefront during Tendulkar’s captaincy. You of all the people should know that.
Not one supporter is ecstatic about our performance against the minnows, in fact we feel the team has been listless. The real challenge is up against SL & England at home. Hope you last till then. The acid test will be the series against England, especially post their current Ashes victory. Hope you saw that? Hope that you and your team will seek some inspiration from them. If you don’t want to do that, go watch your debut series, the series Vs Aus in 2001 and 2003, your Brisbane hundred, and the series Vs Pak 2004. Hope that will ring a bell or two, that you and your team can perform!
Answer your critics through your performance on the field. This is the right time to keep quiet and let your willow do all the talking.