1) Is India playing too much cricket?
There is certainly an argument that the cricket team has had a difficult time in the lead up to the England Test Match. After an outstanding win on home grounds to bring them their second World Cup victory back in April 2011, the Indian Premier League quickly followed in May 2011. Looking at the India National Team roster you can see everyone is on an IPL team (with good reason) with 6 members of the test team playing up to the final. With 74 matches being played it is understandable that fatigue is likely to affect some players’ form. As strategy differs between the Twenty20 form and the Test, the consequence of the higher paid cricket leagues such as the IPL may lead to a fundamental change in the way the Indian cricket team plays. This is especially true when the team faces teams that do not feature in the major Twenty20 leagues.
2) Is the fitness levels of the Indian team up to scratch?
From Flintoff criticising some players “popping out of their shirts” to Sunil Gavaskar criticising the athletic differences between the Indian and English batsmen, it seems there are bevy of commentators ready to point the finger at the team’s fitness levels as being a major contributor to the performance of the Indian team in the recent Test against England. Unfortunately the combination of the IPL and the age of the team were unlikely to help with the performance nor the fitness levels of the Indian Team, especially when pitted against England comparatively younger side.
3) Will injuries prevent performance?
Another consequence of the demanding short game is the increased chance of injury following a tough World Cup Tournament. By the end of the IPL season Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag were forced to miss some of the Test tour as a result of injury. Following the Test with England, Virender Sehwag and Ishant Sharma have already confirmed that they will be missing the ODIs against England this month.
4) Strong England team?
As England take the accolade as the number one Test team perhaps the main reason that India have underperformed in the recent Test series is simply because India were outbatted and outbowled by England. Consistency in England’s game has helped them produce a side that have the stamina to win important long form matches.
So what can India take away from this? Do they really need to find renewed strength in fresh faces, a new training regime, or even some more rest opportunities? One thing they can take solace in is their ability to fill out stadiums. With 25,000 people queuing for the fifth day and some fans reported as setting up shop at 2am outside the ticket booths the night before it was undoubted that this Test was going to be historic to some degree. And with the ODIs quickly selling out cricket remains intrinsically popular in England firmly due to the Indian tour.
An honourable mention should also go to Rahul “the Wall” Dravid, who was perhaps the only Indian to have emerged from the tour with his reputation enhanced. Despite already being considered one of cricket’s great batsmen, he ardently stuck to his task, averaging over 76 for the tour and carrying his bat once. In the past 10 years, he has scored six centuries in tests in England, which is five more than his teammates have managed, whose techniques are not as well suited to seaming English conditions – if England hadn’t been so good, he could well have been a contender for player of the series.