Ex-stalwarts blames batting slump for Oz route

Mumbai: Former Test stalwarts on Saturday blamed the pathetic batting performance by the star-studded Indian batting line-up for its 0-4 rout in the Test series against Australia and said heads have to roll following the country`s second successive whitewash overseas.

"Our batting failed miserably. (Australia captain) Michael Clarke and (Ricky) Ponting batted beautifully and rallied them from situations when they were three wickets down. "The fielding was poor, especially close-in catching, and the overall performance of the Indian team was extremely poor," said former captain and ex-chief selector Dilip Vengsakar while reacting to the defeat. Another former middle-order stalwart Chandu Borde was also forthcoming by saying it was an abject failure of the strong (on paper) batting as a unit for the shocking display in Australia.

"It has been a disappointing performance. I think the batting commitment was not there. The batsmen kept on committing the same mistakes again and again without learning from them. The Australians had studied our batsmen`s strengths and weaknesses and planned well," said septuagenarian Borde. Former all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni also expressed his deep disappointment at the pathetic Indian display and put the blame squarely on the batsmen for the disastrous outing.

"When the team left (for Australia) I thought they would do well. But it`s completely baffling how they performed so miserably. It was a complete batting failure." Asked about the age factor, he said he cannot single out anything for the dismal show. "There are no excuses. We can`t blame the wickets too as they were not as fast or as bad as were made out to be before the matches," said Nadkarni, also a septuagenarian.

Vengsarkar slammed the selection committee for not showing "vision" and the poor itinerary that left a talented batsman like Rohit Sharma without any match practice for over five weeks. "The itinerary was faulty. Rohit Sharma has not played any cricket for five weeks."

"The selectors have also not shown any vision or courage of conviction. What`s the use going there to watch the series without taking tough decisions? They might as well have watched the matches on television sitting here," fumed the 55- year-old former cricketer who represented India in 116 Tests. Vengsarkar was referring to the selectors being sent by the Cricket Board to Australia in pairs to watch two Test matches each.

The ex-stalwart also attacked the BCCI for sweeping suggestions given by former cricketers under the carpet after having called for a meeting with them in the past. "After such defeats the BCCI arranges a meeting with former cricketers, asking their suggestions and then sweeps them under the carpet." Suggesting a road map for the future, Vengsarkar called for a total overhaul of domestic first class structure and more overseas tours by the `A` and under 19 teams.

"The domestic first class cricket needs a complete overhaul. Can we say people who have been performing very well in Ranji Trophy are ready for Test cricket immediately? We need to bridge the gap between our first class cricket and international cricket."

Borde said the rising ball has been the Indian batsmen`s weak point from ages ago. "We have been vulnerable to this sort of bowling in the past too. These Australian bowlers were bowling at pace and swinging the ball too. There was the bounce factor to add. We have to do something about it before we travel in future to countries like Australia, South Africa and England. We have to prepare better," he noted.