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Anil Kumble - Insight Edge

Openers and middle order have set up good results for India, feels Kumble



Wednesday, December 30, 2021
'Good year for India'


After all the fiasco surrounding the pitch at the Kotla and the subsequent abandoning of the final ODI against Sri Lanka, it was heartening to see Indian skipper Mahendra Dhoni proudly accepting the Mace from the ICC, symbolizing India’s rise to the number one spot in the Test rankings. It capped off a very good year for Indian cricket, both in Tests and ODIs, the obvious exceptions being the ICC tournaments, the World T20 and the Champions Trophy.

As far as the ODIs go, yes, we did lose the home series against the Australians, the only blimp in either bilateral or tri-series but I would like to believe that the series could have gone either way, the matches being real close. But the team traveled to Sri Lanka twice as also to the West Indies and New Zealand and emerged on top each time, which has to make 2009 a special year, with the icing being the Test honours.

Most of the good results were set up by the openers, all three of them to boot. What a year they have had, Sehwag and Gambhir in Tests and Sehwag and Sachin in the ODIs. And with captain Dhoni around to maneuver the middle order with aplomb, it isn’t a wonder really that the year has been such a good one.

The ODIs, or the way they are approached, did see some changes during the year. The advent and increasing acceptance of T20 cricket has quickened up the ODIs, something 50 over cricket did to Tests. Not all of the change has been for the good though, certainly not for the bowlers. With teams slowly taking to the batting powerplay, even if they have not perfected the art of using them as yet, bowling has become far more challenging. Yes sir, it is a hard task being a bowler these days.

One of the other things to have changed during the course of the year is the way cricketers look at Pakistan. If 26/11 forced the cancellation of India’s tour to Pakistan and the consequent security issues during the general elections in India forced the move of the second edition of the IPL to South Africa, the sad incident involving the Sri Lankan team, has meant that no team is willing to visit Pakistan.

That said, I must say that the IPL, despite the sudden move, was very well organized and it was heartening to see the people of South Africa take to it in large numbers. They certainly love T20 cricket over in SA.

The IPL has become so popular that it has started to set off a new trend in world cricket. The possibility of more players following the Andrew Flintoff example of becoming a freelancer cannot be ruled out. Already Andrew Symonds seems to have ruled out trying for an Australia place again while Shahid Afridi has made clear his intentions of not playing Test cricket anymore.

I am not very comfortable with this but perhaps that is the way of the future. But one thing that must be kept in mind is that a person has to first establish himself in the international circuit before he can contemplate such moves. Flintoff has got that value behind him and so can afford to take his chances as a free agent but that need not apply to a newcomer who is just finding his feet in international cricket.

The thing is that the trend itself cannot be arrested as with the excessive cricket being played these days, 3-4 years of international cricket can take a lot out of your body, what with all the travel, time away from family and the various other pressures. It is one of the reasons why an early move to the IPL may sadly become the norm, which is a loss to international cricket.
 


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