Bangalore: The Ashes is around the corner and just about everybody is in awe of the 'Steve Warriors'. Not in a long time has any team carried this kind of an air around them. While they might not be invincible, they definitely have achieved a high degree of consistency. Be it at home or away, they play like champions.
Now, what is it that makes them what they are today? Australia too did under go a period of transition where they suffered a low but they tackled the issues face on and in a matter of 2-3 years started producing desired results and within no time shot back on top - a place where they belonged.
As an Indian supporter, I always wonder what is it that they have that we don't? What is it that makes them such a powerful cricket nation? What is it that makes them taste success? Are they a lucky nation that they have quality cricketers falling from top?
For that matter, even, South Africa. They re-entered the scene 10 years back and within five years of its re-entry they were right up there, close to the top; if not at the top.
On the other hand, we (India) boast of the world's best cricketer in Tendulkar, a class act in Dravid and the 'Maharaja', which amounts to the worlds best middle order (so we think). To add to that, we now have a revelation in Laxman, a turbunator who bamboozles the opposition and quite a few very talented new comers in Das, Nehra and Khan. Add all these and what do we have a side that fails to win a series against Zimbabwe.
What is it that we do wrong? Why is it that we perform below par? Can we ever get to be right at the top? To answer these questions we need to ask a series of other co- related questions.
Would Australia or South Africa take a defeat to Zimbabwe lightly? Do Australia and South Africa continue to play weaker opposition regularly? How long has it been since we played a five-match Test series? Does Australian/South African cricket experience as much of player politics as exists in Indian cricket?
All these and many more questions regarding the players and the administrators need to be addressed if we are to make any quality progress?
While it is a good thing not to live in the past it definitely is not a good thing to forget the experiences of the past. Indians lost a one-off Test series to Zimbabwe at Harare and yet they return to lose at the same venue due to an inability to cope with the nature of the pitch. Is that complacency or what?
With regards to regularity of facing weaker oppositions, five-match Test series and politics, I'll leave the judgement to you.
One last question before winding up, how much of a role we as Indian supporters play in our team's downfall?
While an achievement against a weak opposition should be respected it should not be taken to the skies. We always tend to make much of achievements against not so strong opponents, in the process creating a false sense of well being, which invariably evaporates in the face of quality opposition.
We should expect out team to be the number one side and settle for nothing less. Even the second spot should not satisfy us. This is the only path that will see India emerge as a world beating side.