It was a bright and sunny day at the Kennington Oval on 17th August, 2014. The crowd was on its feet, about to witness something extraordinary. Chris Jordon bowled a short ball at Ishant Sharma, he scooped it to Moeen Ali at silly point and celebrations begun.
England had registered a historic win at The Oval. It had been 78 long years since a team won the last three Tests of a five-match series after trailing at the end of the first two.
While the winning side and their fans were busy with celebrations, the Indian team had a long and a hard-hitting journey of self introspection awaiting them. 'What went wrong?' was the question being asked and they had an answer to find.
After several relentless scrutinies by the media, the board decided to take a few superficial steps to pacify the outrage.
The world’s richest cricket board decided to appoint a loyalist to investigate the performance of the players and file a report. They also took pains in giving the position a fancy name, to convince everyone things are about to change.
The question is not if things can change, the question remains to be asked is: will an actual change ever be initiated?
If your team folds up within 30 overs of a Test match, you need more than a fancy report to bring in reforms. The attitude needs to change, of players but most importantly of those people who are running the sport in the country.
This wasn’t the first instance of an overseas tour humiliation for the Indian cricket team. They underwent a bigger embarrassment back in 2011 when they lost 4-0 in England and 4-0 to Australia later that year.
The apathy of the board to repair the damage is surprising. The steps taken are ludicrous and clearly indicate the priorities of the world’s richest cricket board.
The board which gives utmost priority to its domestic cricket league shows zero interest in preparing its squad to win Test matches overseas.
When a journalist asks MS Dhoni if his players are willing to sacrifice their participation in the cash-rich T20 tournament to improve their Test cricket, he throws a counter question asking why the world is jealous of their competition.
This makes one wonder, how a captain but most importantly a cricketer, can give importance to a domestic cricket league over Test cricket. The statement is purely a reflection of the board’s attitude which the players have caught on.
The amount of criticism the Indian cricket team's coach Duncan Fletcher is facing surely looks extreme. The position of a coach in Indian cricket has always been more of a consultant than of a strategist.
The captain and the selectors always have had a larger role to play in decision making than the coach.
The coach isn’t supposed to set up training camps to groom young players and neither is he responsible for scheduling more India A tours to countries like England and Australia. He has zero input in the functioning of the country's domestic cricket structure. And in the end he is not the one performing with bat and ball.
It won’t be unexpected if Fletcher is made the scapegoat for the series debacle. It will be just another illusion of a change happening in Indian cricket.
The system which has resulted in the current situation will continue to work in the same old-fashioned and money-minded manner.
A lot was expected of this team from this tour. The captain was expected to learn from his mistakes of previous tours. The young and promising batting line-up was expected to prove their mettle outside of their comfort zone. The newly formed pace attack was expected to make utmost use of heavenly conditions.
More than anything else, this team was expected to put up a fight and not simply surrender, reminiscent of what their predecessors did three years back.
Now is the time for the board to take these signs of caution seriously and take actions to avoid such shame in the future.
Rolling a few heads will only result in new faces who will take a fall for the next humiliation.
The board needs to get its priorities right and make a choice between real cricket and other cricket.
After all, India’s Test cricket future depends on this choice.
© Cricket World 2014