India needed an awakening

ndia's drubbing in the just-concluded Test series in England has signalled the urgent need for youngsters to be blooded into the Test team, according to former India captain Anil Kumble. Kumble said that while it could take time for India to return to their best, players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh needed to be given an extended run to allow the rebuilding process to take place.

"They have to be given a long rope," Kumble told AFP. "You may not see India come back to the top in quick time. But we have to ensure that with these youngsters, we remain in the top three and climb to the top spot after a few years."

Arun Lal, the former India batsman, echoed Kumble's view. "You cannot go on with 35 or 38-year-olds till eternity," Lal said. "We need to infuse new talent. What happened in England was in a way good. We needed an awakening."

India's 4-0 loss is the their first whitewash since the three-match series in Australia in 1999-2000, and the first by a four-game margin since the 1967-68 tour of Australia. Since Sourav Ganguly took over the captaincy in 2000, India's overseas record has shown marked improvement - India have won 24 away Tests in the last 11 years as compared to only four between 1980-99.

However, the players responsible for several of these wins have already gone - Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly - or are close to retirement, while the likes of Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, who were part of these wins, have been dogged by injuries recently.

Kapil Dev, another former captain, said several of these players would be hard to replace, making India's task that much harder. "We were fortunate to have such good players all at one time, but they can't go on forever," Dev said. "It won't be easy to replace them."

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said, during commentary, that while England were the better side, he had not expected India to cave in so meekly. "Losing is part of the game but for a top-ranked side to lose so badly is inexcusable," he said. "England were magnificent, they were much superior to India and much better prepared. But I did expect India to show more fight than they did in the four Tests."

With the Don Argus-led review of Australian cricket getting a lot of attention over the last week, there has been speculation over whether the BCCI will commission a similar appraisal in the aftermath of the England series. Former captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi said he didn't anticipate too many changes coming into place. "The BCCI is not going to show a great deal of vision," Pataudi said. "Cricket will continue [in India] the way it is, but I sincerely hope that some sense does come in."

Ravi Shastri, another former captain, said it was time to look at different players for the different formats, with an emphasis on Test cricket. "It's time for Indian cricket to identify players who are specifically suited to the different formats of the game," Shastri wrote in the Times of India. "A way has to be found to encourage those cricketers who want to give Test cricket priority. There ought to be superior remuneration or compensation."