The Telegraph
Tuesday , August 12 , 2014
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Need to be patient with the players: Gavaskar

Virat Kohli after being dismissed in the second innings of the fourth Test, in Manchester

Calcutta: Sunil Gavaskar feels one should be patient with the present Indian team as players have to fill in the shoes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and the likes, something that isn’t too easy a job.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. suffered a humiliating innings defeat against England in the fourth Test to go down 1-2 in the five-match series and continue with their poor show overseas. Gavaskar, however, believes it won’t be fair to be too harsh with the players as the team is going through a transition.

“The team is in transition as some of the best players in the world have retired a few years back. It is difficult for these youngsters to fill in their shoes. We need to be a little bit patient with them,” the former India captain told a television channel.

“I agree that India have been struggling in Test format for some time. But look, with those some of the best players in the world, India still lost 0-4 to England and then by an identical margin to Australia, back in 2011.

“So, I will not just point a finger at these current players,” he said.

England off-spinner Moeen Ali tormented the Indians at Old Trafford with figures of four for 39 in the second innings, but Gavaskar refused to believe that Indians were no longer the best players of spin.

“Apart from one delivery that dismissed Virat Kohli, I would not say Moeen had bowled some extraordinary deliveries or those which turned a lot. It was just that the Indians wanted to score runs off him as they were not getting boundaries from the other end off the likes of James Anderson and other pacers,” he said.

“They thought they could score some easy runs off Moeen. If you are not getting runs from one end, you naturally try to do so from the other. It happens in cricket and players may get out in doing so. That had happened to the Indians.

“One should not generalise things. It is one unfortunate happening that virtually all of the present Indian team members are experiencing their leanest periods,” Gavaskar said. Gavaskar went to the extent of saying that the Indian cricket team gets “unnecessary” criticism due to the fact that the country virtually controls the game due to its financial clout.

“India has now become a cricket team to be picked on. There is a certain element of jealousy here. India now controls the game financially and so people want to bring down the Indian team,” he remarked.

“When India won the second Test at Lord’s, England players were struggling to play short-pitched deliveries. England players were hit on the helmet. The same happened when Mitchell Johnson of Australia bowled in the Ashes. But nobody wrote that England players cannot play short-pitched deliveries.

“So can one conclude that Indians struggle to play spin on the basis of Moeen’s performance? I will criticise the Indian players when needed, but I will also not criticise them unnecessarily. They belong to my cricketing fraternity,” added Gavaskar.

Gavaskar, though, said he would not believe a commensurate sense of hurt was not felt by the Indian players after the Old Trafford debacle. “It is a matter of how one accepts a defeat or a win. So, it is hard to find out how much they are hurt by the defeat.

“It is a subjective thing. But I will be surprised if the Indian team was not hurt by the defeat (at Old Trafford).”

Gavaskar also advised the team management and the BCCI to make it compulsory for Indian players to feature in first-class cricket if they want to play in Test matches. “The take-over here for BCCI and the team management is to tell the players that if they don’t play first-class cricket, they won’t play in Test cricket too,” he commented.