Are India getting enmeshed in their own designs?

A confidential order from who-can’t-be-refused is just a click away from being sent to Nagpur, the venue for the last Test. This is how it reads: Should England survive Kolkata too, slip in some burglars into the England nets in the guise of net bowlers to steal all their bats.

Sounds nonsensical? It should because it is. But don’t cast away the stupid idea into the realms of impossibility because desperation drives people into doing ludicrous things. And the BCCI and the India team at present seem as desperate as one could be. So obsessed are they with the idea of not allowing England any quality spinner in their practice and then bombarding them with ‘quality’ spinners in the matches that they look ready to go to any extreme.

One saw an example of this before the Test started at the Eden Gardens when the Cricket Association of Bengal said it could not find more than one spinner for England’s net session. Apparently, India’s no-quality-spinner policy for England practice has been tweaked to ‘minimum possible spinner’.

“It’s an international protocol to provide visiting teams with as many net bowlers as they want. And one needs to ensure that the bowlers provided are reasonably good. You can’t give ordinary bowlers to an international team,” said GS Walia of the Punjab Cricket Association, who was media manager on India’s last tour to Australia.

Sunil Dev, sports secretary of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association, who accompanied the team to South Africa, couldn’t agree more. “It’s a matter of plain courtesy and is followed across the world. We never had any problem regarding net bowlers, there were always plenty available.”

Given England’s well chronicled woes against spin, India’s reluctance to offer them quality spinners looked a sound strategy, even if didn’t conform with the lofty ideals of sportsmanship. With our players grumbling they also get green tops for practice games overseas and nets, it made the whole argument sound a little less nasty.

But what started off as a strategy, though a petty one to begin with, has come down to outright pettiness. You could foresee what’s in store for India when they tour England next. Of course, they have to get through this series first.

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