The current cricket season, involving India, is just 12 days old. We have seen five international teams in action from eight matches (seven in Sri Lanka and one in Singapore). It was sad to witness the pathetic fielding display of the Indians. Modern cricket teams are showing a high degree of concentration on improving their fielding abilities.
But India has never been rated high for its fielding skill while its players' class and calibre in batting and bowling are second to none in the World. During the past 12 days Australia, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Zimbabwe excelled at fielding which naturally serves as a confidence-booster to the bowlers. Runs saved and run outs effected are considered as valuable assets for a team in the final analysis.
There is any number of ODIs that were decided in favour of the side that was outstanding in the department of fielding. The ODI records would drive home this point convincingly. Poor fielding and weak running between the wickets had led many a team to ruination. There are also teams that had sharpened its fielding skill at a rapid pace.
The West Indies team was found wanting in this vital department a few seasons ago but its players were quick to realise the need for sharpening their reflexes. Why India, despite possessing some classy cricketers in its ranks, failing to concentrate more on this important, match-winning, department? Mohammed Azharuddin, the previous captain had often emphasised on the excellence of fielding. But he could only take the horses to the pond. India's current captain Sachin Tendulkar too has expressed his concern on this aspect in no uncertain terms. For the past several years India has been running preparatory camps before every series. Only experts could tell whether these short-term camps serve the purpose.
Over the years even yoga instructors participated in some of the camps. But when seen in action in International matches, India's fielding and running between the wickets make little or no impression on the sports-watchers. The agility is missing. Playing too many ODIs and Test matches in a season is being given as the major reason for the players' poor reflex-action. But regular cricket-watchers would not see any logic in that.
If a team is playing too many matches in a season then its players should get themselves prepared physically and mentally. The cricket world itself is very active these days. So the teams should change their approach-work accordingly. Excuses like "too much of cricket" would hardly impress the modern sport-lover.