India should copy Australia’s strengths, not sledging



By Kersi Meher-Homji


The Brisbane Test last week appeared as if Australia was playing Australia. India bowled like Australia with three quickies trying to imitate Dennis Lillee and Mitchell Johnson. Some of them sledged like the Aussies but not subtly like them.

mitchell johnson


Mitchell Johnson

It was a revelation to watch Umesh Yadav, Varoon Aaron and Ishant Sharma bowling at over 140 kph. India has not produced such quickies since Mohammad Nissar in 1930s and to some extent Kapil Dev in 1980s. In Australia one does need fast bowlers. But they overdid the bumper “barrage”. Karn Sharma in Adelaide and Ravichandran Ashwin in Adelaide were not fully utilised.

Why Ashwin was not included in the Adelaide Test where Australia’s spinner Nathan Lyon took 12 wickets and adjudged Man of the Match?

Australian batsmen who have lived on fast bowling as their staple diet were at first surprised by the speed of India’s fast bouncing bowlers. But once they realised they were playing a sort of interstate match against ”˜fellow Australian bowlers’ they took command.

India’s strength in bowling has always been spin. From Vinoo Mankad, Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, BS Chandrasekhar and Srini Venkataraghavan to Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, the spinners have always won Tests for India. Not only in India but also in Australia.

Now to the sledging: Australian cricketers have been sledgers for decades. Subtle sledging makes them feel stronger. When Indian cricketers sledge they do it visibly and tend to lose the plot.

Indian cricketers in recent years have been trying to copy Australia’s toughness and belligerence but with disappointing results.

A ho-hum Johnson turned into a killer with both bat and ball when sledged in the Brisbane Test. India was ahead when Johnson joined skipper Steven Smith. The sledging to Johnson brought the best out of him as batsman and bowler. His killer instinct returned with vengeance.

As the old song went, “Can’t turn my brown eyes blue.”

You play to your strengths, not to your opponents’ strength.

To quote Paul D from the Roar web-site, “Regarding the sledging ”“ I think the issue the Indian teams have is that they have no real idea how to do it with any subtlety or disguise. If you’re watching on TV, it’s difficult sometimes to pick up on what the Aussies are doing or saying, it’s low-key, they’re not looking to get in the batsman’s face, they’re looking to plant a few seeds of doubt and distraction.

“When India try to do it, it’s blatant, everyone knows they’re doing it, the Aussies know it too, even the crowd knows it. They wind up looking bratty and frustrated. Maybe they need a sledging coach!” A subtle sledging coach, that is!

Pakistan played like Pakistan in UAE a few months ago and was runaway winner. Their batsmen and spinners won the Tests by huge margins. The Aussie batsmen succumbed to Pakistani spinners not because they were unplayable but because they thought they were unplayable. They psyched themselves and saw spin when there was very little.

India should have added more spinners like Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha or Piyush Chawla in their squad. Each Test should have included at least one off-spinner and one leg-spinner.

Spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is injured and will be replaced by 20 year-old spinner Akshar Patel. In my opinion the Indian management should have called for more experienced Mishra or Ojha ”“ especially for the Sydney Test.

To be aggressive is an advantage. But too much aggro leads to self-destruction. In the first Test in Adelaide, Virat Kohli played masterfully to score 115 and 141 runs in his captaincy debut. But for him India would not have come even close to victory.

virat kohli


Virat Kohli needs a cool head for India’s success

But he made vital mistakes in both innings when set for a bigger score. In the second innings he went for tall pulls when three to four singles per over with an occasional four could have earned India victory.

A magnificent batsman and fielder, cool head is what Kohli needs for his and India’s success.


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