Young guns need to show mettle

Young guns need to show mettle

Today, the 29-year-old is the undisputed leader, having led the country with aplomb and established himself as one of the more consistent batsmen in world cricket. Thrown in at the deep end at a very tender age, Smith came through the baptism by fire unscathed; now, he has taken upon himself the role of moulding the next generation of young talent, the likes of Colin Ingram, David Miller and Francois du Plessis.

There is an equal profusion of young blood among the Indian batting component on tour. The Test series exposed Cheteshwar Pujara to a level of cricket he hadn’t been involved in before, in conditions he had little experience of. Without setting the stage afire, the young right-hander soaked in the whole experience, surely coming out richer by the experience.

The one-day squad has a plethora of young men who, not too long from now, should form the core of the Indian line-up in Test cricket too. For Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, this one-day campaign against top-quality opposition is exactly the kind of education that could further their careers, dependent entirely, of course, on how much they learn from this tour and to what use they put those lessons.

After scoring a crucial unbeaten 20-plus on his one-day debut in difficult circumstances against Sri Lanka in Dambulla in mid-2008, S Badrinath had spoken of how he had learnt more from that one innings than a hundred innings in domestic cricket. The Tamil Nadu right-hander has been a wonderful student of the game and continues to score prolifically in domestic cricket, but it would appear as if time has passed him by when it comes to international cricket.

Doing justice to talent
The younger lot would do well to fuse Badrinath’s attitude with their own continued good fortune. The likes of Rohit and Vijay have held on to their places without doing justice to their talent. This tour, and the opportunity to bat relatively earlier in their careers against the quality of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, should be viewed by them as a stepping stone to greater glory, as Mahendra Singh Dhoni pointed out the other day.

“In a way, it’s good for the youngsters that some of our regular batsmen aren’t here,” the Indian captain said. “The conditions are a little difficult here, and the more they play in such conditions, the more it will benefit them. Then, when they go back to flat tracks, it won’t be so demanding.

“At the same time, you will also learn to read the game much better. If you play a lot only in the sub-continent, then a total of 300-325 is on top of your mind. Here, all of a sudden, you realise that even 190 can be a winning score. Back home, even if you have lost four or five wickets, batsmen keep going for their strokes but out here, it’s a different aspect altogether. You feel even if you score 200, there’s a chance of our bowlers defending the target. You learn a lot by playing in matches such as these.”
Just how well the young turks further their education as this tour winds down will determine if they are indeed the future of the Indian batting. They can’t complain of lack of opportunities; now, in all fairness, their futures lie in their own hands.