There has been much discussion on our team's failure to fulfill the fans' expectations in the recent Asia Cup. Suggestions such as bringing in new players from the under 19, getting rid of a couple of the senior players and going for "big hitter" hunts have been made, and some of these suggestions have been converted into decisions by our cricket authorities.
However, one must admit that without a domestic cricket league that offers extreme competition to our cricketers, be it from the national team or from a minor club, winning matches at the international level on a regular basis will continue to remain an impossibility.
Looking at the performances of our national teams over the years, it has been quite evident that our problem lies neither in technique nor in the understanding of the game, but in ability. Our players are simply not capable of dominating the opponent (except for very few exceptions). This brings us to the question: "Why, after so many years of playing at the international level, do we still have this kind of a lapse?"
Well, the problem lies at the root. Our domestic cricket is simply not up to the mark. A batsman who tops the batting figures in a domestic competition fails badly when playing for the national team. A bowler who bags 50 odd wickets in one national league outing has pretty ordinary figures in test and ODI matches.
This is simply because these players are not challenged at the domestic level. Improvement in ability can only come by facing tough opponents on a regular basis. It is in the domestic level that one can conduct experiments on his way of playing without causing much harm to the team. This is where one should get to play more and more, and prove oneself before getting selected for the national and A teams.
All these point to and call for the domestic leagues to be of minimum standard that is readily comparable to international cricket. A player who proves himself in our current leagues actually proves nothing. International matches are a different story - the intense pressure, obligation to the country, and lack of opportunity to experiment simply paralyse the players' ability to perform well; that is, if they are not fully prepared for it.
This preparation, therefore, can be complete only if our national players compete in the local tournaments all year round, and get to face some quality bowling and batting. A plan like this will ensure that our cricketers are playing all the time, and that too against tough opponents. It will definitely lift their game, and also make them realize that, with the pool of quality players at home, their place in the national side is subject to performance, and not to the lack of players who are as good as them.
In conclusion, I would say that there are two ways we can secure a respectable place in the cricketing world. The first one that comes to my mind is rather unrealistic - we need a miracle. The second one, though, is achievable with a little bit of hard work from our officials - finding a way to make our domestic leagues longer and more competitive.