India is currently struggling against Sri Lanka and does not look like they are the number one Test team in the world, reckons former Australian skipper Steve Waugh.
“India are predominantly a batting side but their bowling is not strong enough. Of course they have a few injuries with Zaheer out of the team. But they are struggling against Sri Lanka and doesn’t look like a number one side,” Waugh said on the sidelines of a promotional event.
Asked about the upcoming Australia’s tour of India, Waugh said it would be tough series and can go either way.
“India always is a difficult team to beat at home. But they have a few bowling issues. Even Harbhajan Singh had a mixed year and has not been consistent. Well, of course he always gets pumped up against Australia. It would be a tough series,” he said.
The former skipper also felt the retirement of so many quality players have stripped Australia off its’ invincible aura and they no more have the same intimidating factor.
“They probably have lost their aura. Australia dominated world cricket from 1995 to 2005 but now they no more have the intimidating factor. They are not feared anymore,” said Waugh.
“It happens when you lose so many good players in short time. It happened to West Indies, they dominated in the 70s and 80s. Now there are five teams like Australia, South Africa, England, India and Sri Lanka who are at even,” Waugh added.
Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan retired recently and Waugh feels even though it would be difficult to emulate him, there is probably some talent waiting to emerge.
“It is difficult to have bowlers like Murali, Shane (Warne) and (Anil) Kumble, all in the same era. They took like 2000 wickets among them. But the game is always bigger than individuals and I believe there is some talent out their ready to pop up anytime,” Waugh said.
“There are a couple of spinners who are doing well like Graeme Swann. He has been a steady bowler and last year has been most successful bowler. Harbhajan (Singh) has been good and plays well against Australia. Mendis is also an amazing bowler and he will surely come out of his bad patch,” he said.
Waugh, who was here to conduct a school debate competition on ‘Commercialisation of Sports’, said the Indian Premier League poses a big threat for the youngsters of India.
“It (IPL) is always dangerous for Indian young players because straight away after bursting onto the scene they get endorsements and huge money. This can take away the focus and hunger from the youngsters.”
“There is a big responsility on the managers and players to help them keep and maintain a balance or else they would regret 20 years down the line,” he said.
Waugh also said he didn’t have the time to get engaged in IPL as he was too busy with his other commitments.
“I was approached for the IPL but I could not have given 100 per cent as I am too busy with my charity programmes and business,” he said.
Asked if he endorses day and night Tests, Waugh said, “It is better for a few countries. Even in India, the popularity is dwindling so if a few night Tests can help to bring the craze back then its good.”