An abundance of talent does not suffice in modern sport. That is the lesson that must be learnt from the Indian women’s cricket squad, for the second time, having failed to make talent really count. Sure there is every reason to laud the players for their on-field essays, yet it would be doing them much disservice to overlook the reality that their tactical weakness is what has denied them opportunity to lay their hands on an edition of a world championship, in either of the limited-overs formats of the game.
It was pathetic to note more than one member of the TV commentary team at Antigua observe that the Indian eves had “no Plan B” as England coasted their way to victory. For the thousands of fans who woke up early on Friday it was a hard fact to swallow, one that gave a bitter taste to mere disappointment. True that the scorecard would suggest that India were outplayed: deeper analysis would point to the team having been “out thought”.
Neither the conditions of the pitch, nor the state of play appeared to have been factors in the way in which Harmanpreet Kaur & Co went about their business. That the previous semi-final had pointed to tricky conditions ought to have influenced the selection of the final XI ~ admittedly hindsight is fantastic, but the demanding conditions made the experience and maturity of Mithali Raj indispensable. Was she nursing a hidden injury, or is there dissent brewing? The answer has been rendered irrelevant by the one-sided outcome.
There was something so amateur to the Indian batting. While a quickfire start might have been “tactical”, surely after the loss of a couple of wickets the other batters could have been directed to abandon the “going hell for leather” tactic, consolidate the innings to favour a closing flourish, The “stickiness” of the strip militated against the aerial shot but the cream of the batters danced their way down the track to unleash their muscle ~ and came unstuck.
The “collapse” was shameful because no visible effort was made to avert it. No version of cricket ~ regardless of the colour of the ball or the duration of the match ~ is a slam-bang affair. Not for the first time have the girls blundered in that fashion ~ nor has “superior authority” enforced corrective action. Without seeking to denigrate the present coaching squad it is necessary to advocate a quality-upgrade.
The men’s teams, at various levels, have tapped the services of accomplished players ~ in their own fashion have Ravi Shastri, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sandeep Patil and a string of imported experts “delivered” when tasked with mentoring the “boys in blue” ~ why should the women players be deprived of such benefit? Diana Eduljee has opted to take a position on another brand of gender ill-treatment, she would be expected to ensure that the women’s sides are also duly mentored.