What ails Indian football? Cricket provides an insight

Growing up in India, where cricket was such a huge game, when we formed teams in our neighborhood park, everyone wanted to be the batsman. Very few wanted to be the bowler or fielder. Indeed the only reason that people would bowl or field would be to get the batsman out and get their turn to bat.
After all, a batsman could virtually stay in his crease, and punch a ball for four runs or better still a six. With a minimal of effort you were the center of attraction. The rest of the departments, bowling and fielding required a lot more legwork, or manual labour, should we say, and were less attractive and rewarding. That sums up a national, collective psyche of exploiting loopholes and choosing the easy way out.
When India played test cricket especially in the slow Indian grounds they achieved a modicum of success, mostly through the strength of their batsman and occasionally through their bowlers. Fielding was a virtual unknown, although there was some fines ones, like Eknath Solkar. It was all a very sedentary affair, with five days to play, and a ton of records (mostly batting) to look forward to. It was when the faster, intense, one day internationals (ODI) that came into existence, that Indian cricket’s shortcomings were exposed. For those unfamiliar with ODIs, teams are given a limited number of overs to bat, and the team that bats second has to overtake the score in order to win. Instant gratification is guaranteed in an innings. Pretty simple. This is the shorthand version of test cricket. Fielding and bowling become central in stopping runs. Most wins are the result of these two aspects, although there have been exceptions when a batsman has taken over and single handedly, won the game.
The Indians were found grossly lacking in this version of cricket. Their inability to manufacture singles to keep the scoreboard ticking, their aversion to running hard between wickets, to convert singles into twos, their shoddy fielding of shots struck into the outfield, and their virtual surrender in the slog overs (last 10 overs) to keeping the score down through their poor bowling and fielding efforts victimized India for a long time and still does today. All these atrocities were on display when India crashed out to Australia in the World Cup finals in 2003. The Indians have become better but are still extremely inconsistent. We still eke out enough wins to keep the Indian public happy but that is because cricket is ultimately, a less physical game, than football.
If Bob Houghton or any coach that takes on the responsibility of coaching the Indian football team, he might want to look to cricket, as to what ails the Indian football team. When you see the Socceroos play, they are the mirror image of the Australian cricket team. No aspect of the game is left to chance. It is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. As it should be.

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