Mumbai: Former captain Ajit Wadekar feels the Indian cricket team`s humiliating 0-4 loss to England in the recently-concluded Test series was a result of fatigue and lack of preparation.
"They had no time to celebrate the team`s World Cup victory. It was followed by IPL, the West Indies tour and then the tour of England. The body language was terrible. They looked tired," Wadekar said.
"They thought just by being No 1 in the world (in Test ranking) we can beat England, who looked a determined team and had prepared well for the series," he said.
Recalling India`s maiden series victory over England under his leadership in 1971, Wadekar pointed out that at that time, the team played nine tour games and won eight of them unlike the current outfit, which played only one warm-up game before the first Test at Lord`s.
Wadekar, who led the Indian team during the 3-0 series loss to England in 1974, recollected that like Dhoni`s men their team also coped with an unsettled opening pair and lack of sufficient practice.
"We played four practice games but most were rained off and we also did not have settled openers," Wadekar recalled.
"This team went in two batches, did not have enough time to strategise and get acclimatised. The opening combination missed the presence of Virender Sehwag (who missed the first two Tests recuperating from his shoulder operation). There were other injury issues too, including that to key bowler Zaheer Khan," he said.
Wadekar`s outfit went to England after three Test series wins in a row, including back-to-back triumphs in the West Indies and England in 1971 followed by a home series win over England in 1972-73, but was humbled 3-0 by the hosts.
"Cold weather made it difficult for our match winner Bhagwat Chandrasekar to grip the ball. And the BCCI (Indian cricket board) also, without my knowledge, had agreed to restrict the number of fielders on the leg side to five from the earlier six which affected our spinners` strategy," Wadekar recalled.
"There was also the issue of Sudhir Naik (who was accused of shop lifting) and the reception at the Indian High Commission (when the team landed half an hour late and Wadekar was asked to get out by the then High Commissioner B K Nehru and the entire squad also walked out) where our bus got stuck at the gate and we went half an hour late," he added.
Wadekar suggested that the BCCI should assert itself and get the Future Tours Programme amended so that the number of matches is cut down and top players are available for domestic cricket.
"In my days we learnt a lot from playing along side Polly Umrigar, G S Ramchand, Subash Gupte not only in Ranji Trophy but also in tournaments like the Kanga League. We learnt to build the innings. I`m sure the BCCI has enough financial clout to make changes in the Indian team`s international programme," he said.
Wadekar also wanted the present system of zonal representation in the national selection panel to be replaced by a three-member non-zonal committee with the members having played at least 25 Tests each.
"The zonal representation in the selection panel needs to be replaced by a three-member panel and each one of them should have played at least 25 Tests," he suggested.
Currently the BCCI appoints five paid selectors (who are paid Rs 40 lakh each annually) representing the north, south, east, west and central zones.