As the Indian selectors sit down to pick India’s ODI squad for England, there seemed to be the solution that can only be described as terrific but too late and in hindsight had it been applied on India’s tour of England simply because it would have given the Indian cricketers time and better options to take on England had the Test series followed the ODI series.
Would it have helped better had the Test series been divided in two parts with two Tests of the India England series played before the ODI series and the remaining two followed the Test series. Although that seems like a rather drastic design, at this point where India find themselves 2-0 in the India England Test series, anything would have seemed like a better option.
Brett Lee made an interesting comment as Australia tour Sri Lanka that the idea of opening the tour with a Twenty20 match provides the opportunity to flow rather nicely later into the rhythm of Test cricket. What the Australian fast bowler says perfect sense because it provides the opportunity to build up on several factors while also, making it sequential in the form of a crescendo as far as tours go. And it has sparked the idea that perhaps the BCCI were better off not innovating with the itinerary but sticking to the old, accepted formula and concentrating instead on the players that make up the team rather the schedule that they seem preoccupied with.
When the BCCI first announced that the Indian cricket team would play the Tests ahead of the ODIs in England, it seemed that the aim was clearly to maintain a flow wherein the Indian cricket team would be finishing their tour of the Caribbean with the three Test series and therefore, the team would have had sufficient time adapting to the five day format. However, there were critical flaws in the plan that have revealed themselves and exposed rather badly the shortcomings that have rendered the innovative itinerary to an overlook.
With the benefit to review where the Indian cricket team stand 2-0 in the series and in desperate need of a turnaround that is not beyond them if they have a flash and decide to get stronger as a collective team effort rather than depend on individual brilliance that has not been backed up, it would perhaps helped India buy time before the no.1 Test rank came into focus if the conservative order of a Twenty20 extravaganza followed by the ODI series to culminate in the Test series. Given the number of Indian cricketers who missed the Indian tour of the West Indies and who would have appreciated the extra time to acclimatize in English conditions but more importantly, recuperate sufficiently beyond doubt, this was a case of opportunity missed for the Indian cricket.
The BCCI may have had the right intentions in planning the Test series in the manner in which they did but they failed in execution and therein lies the problem because without a proper fitness assessment of players, even the best laid plans can come to naught. There are still two Tests to salvage and time will tell if all is not lost yet for India.