With few new batting talent, world cricket cannot live in denial: Bhogle
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For years we thought India's batting will be fine, that one of the many young fellows routinely knocking runs in domestic cricket will become the next Dravid or Laxman. It's the bowling, we thought, that will be the issue. Now, it turns out we have a problem with our young batsmen too, neither of whom really made an impact against a West Indies side that consisted of those that didn't make it to the team that is disappointing many in England!
As a great fan of Test cricket it worries me enormously and I know that fingers, like cowardly guns, will be pointed towards easy targets. But is it India, possessor of the world's most popular whipping boy, the only country in peril. Or is the cricket world itself in some kind of batting recession?
I called up my friend Mohandas Menon and, sure as ever, the numbers came tumbling out. Test cricket had an outstanding crop from 2004 to 2006. England provided Strauss, Cook, Pietersen and Bell, India had Gambhir, from Australia emerged Clarke and Hussey and the South Africans threw up AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla. Since then, only one batsman in Test cricket has laid claim to being world class and that is Jonathan Trott, who appeared in 2009. One from among nine Test playing countries in six years. These are scary numbers.
You could argue it takes a few years for a player to feel at home in international cricket but you could safely assume that a player can play in 30 Tests in six years and that is good enough as Trott has shown or indeed as most of those in that list did. Since then, there have been many who promised but none who kept their word. Australia tried Hughes, Khwaja, North and Marsh; England, the most blessed (or maybe the most organised?) only needed Morgan and now Bairstow. New Zealand perhaps promised the most with Taylor, Guptill, Ryder and Williamson but it was also a phase when Dan Vettori was their best batsman (averaging, at one point, 10 more than the next best). You could go on...India, the possessor of the most stable line-up, tried Raina, Vijay, Mukund and are hopeful that Kohli and Pujara will be the real things.
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