Birmingham: Well known cricket commentator and sports writer Henry Blofeld has expressed his dismay and sadness over the fall from grace of Indian cricket.
In an article for the Daily Express, Blofeld said that for all practical purposes, England has comprehensively outplayed India in this series and are heading deservedly for the No1 spot in the world.
He believes that currently India is on their knees, and blames the greedy Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for asking the players to play far too much cricket.
“They have been competitive for the first seven days of the series. The Lord’s Test was a brilliant contest and for two days Trent Bridge built up in the same way. And then, the wheels came off. In this third Test, they have looked little short of a rabble – and this is a side, which includes Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman,” says Blofeld.
Describing the trio as the three best batsmen of this generation and indeed in the history of the game, he says that to see them being humiliated as they are now, is extremely sad.
He also says that the entire cricketing world will have been hoping to see Tendulkar reach his 100th international century in this series.
He has made 51 Test hundreds and 48 in one-day internationals. How perfect it would have been had he achieved this astonishing landmark at Lord’s, where he has never made more than 37 in a Test. But it was not to be.
He believes that India’s Little Master is now showing signs of being under pressure and not particularly enjoying it.
“Of course, he has three innings left in this series and the one-day matches after that. It would still take a brave man to bet against him score this elusive hundred before the tour is over. But, watching him at third man and deep square leg in this Test, his demeanour has suggested more a man who would like it all to be over as quickly as possible, rather than one who is poised to achieve an incredible record,” Blofeld said.
On Laxman, he says that he is another whose body language at second slip does not hint at great things to come. His hands spend most of their time in his pockets, coming out just as the bowler reaches his delivery stride. He shuffles about the place.
Even Dravid has looked disappointed and out of sorts these first two days. He has also dropped slip catches he would normally have gobbled.
Virender Sehwag has come back for this match seriously under-prepared and looking overweight. His dismissal, first ball, in India’s first innings was a body blow which set the tone for the match.
On captain M S Dhoni, he says that he has been unable to lift his side either as captain or as a wicketkeeper.
With the leading players contributing relatively little, it has put much too big a burden on the lesser players and, not surprisingly, they have been unable to cope.
“The story of this series has been the inevitably sad one of greatness in decline. When successful sides start to fall off the top, they suddenly find that the replacements and reserves they have been used to are no longer there. This happened to the West Indies in the Eighties and more recently to Australia. In the fullness of time, the same will probably happen to England,” he concludes.