India have a love affair with men who hold carefully crafted pieces of willow and flail it around like Luke Skywalker does a lightsaber.
Well, they love batsmen and Bollywood movie stars.
If you are a movie star who also make runs, India is the place to live.
When India’s World Cup squad was announced, all focus was naturally on the batsmen.
Where is Yuvraj? Surely Sehwag was worth a gamble? Is Dhoni up for it?
Ok, there was also talk about Stuart Binny, but it was around the merits of his all rounder status.
Yet the paradox is that in almost every other major nation, the debate focused on the bowling selections.
England – Surely Ben Stokes was the third bowler? Wow, how good do Finn’s 125 kph thunderbolts look now. He can even land them on the pitch.
Australia – No Harris? No Lyon? Doherty? The world has gone mad.
Pakistan – Ajmal isn’t playing. Hafeez is banned from bowling. Why wasn’t Umar Gul picked. Now what?
South Africa – Surely McLaren is better than Behardien? I hope Steyn can be as good as Anderson.
New Zealand – Vettori is playing? How good are Boult and Southee.
West Indies – Will the team even turn up. Do they care?
Sri Lanka – If Herath can ignore all the female attention, we are a chance at winning this thing.
And here lies India’s problem.
As a nation addicted to run makers, they have forgotten that like in all major sports, defence wins championships.
Batsman save matches. Bowlers win them.
The last World Cup held in Australasia was won by Imran and Akram. The game changed with Deepak Patel opening the bowling for New Zealand.
It wasn’t lost by batsman failing to score. The Cup headed to a place that prior to 1947, I referred to as West India.
Bowlers win World Cups.
Australia won it’s recent World Cup’s on the back of Warne and McGrath.
Sri Lanka won in 1996 after having India 8/120 in the semi final before the crowd decided to take matters into their own hands.
It is understandable that India is still punch drunk after it’s 2011 win. Yuvraj was named Man of the Tournament. Some will argue that this is definitive proof that batsmen win World Cups. It isn’t. It was an anomaly. The 15 wickets he took in that series are quickly forgotten.
India’s batting lineup for 2015 looks strong on paper if the matches were being played in the subcontinent.
However, let’s interrogate it’s bowling.
The squad has three spinners. Jadeja, Ashwin and Ashkar Patel.
On the true Australian wickets, none of these strike fear into even the worst number 11.
Jadeja averages over 100 in Australia with the white ball, Ashwin is nearly at 45 and Patel has just started.
The Indian pace attack of Bhuvi Kumar, Yadav, Shami, Ishant and Binny haven’t fired once on this current Australian tour.
Kumar is hamstrung by injury. Yadav, Shami and Binny will struggle to keep a tier 1 side below 300 too often.
Ishant is the one bowler who could do some damage. Surprisingly, he averages 20.42 after 10 ODI matches in Australia.
None of the other quicks average under 56 Down Under.
In the 5 Test series, India only bowled Australia out twice in 10 attempts.
In the ODI Tri Series, Mitchell Starc has taken more wickets than the whole Indian Team combined.
Who is India’s last great bowler?
Zaheer Khan? Harbhajan? Perhaps it was an all rounder in Kapil Dev?
It’s not an easy question to answer because India don’t produce great bowlers that can dominate the world irrespective of where they play.
Pakistan can reel them off. Shoaib, Ajmal, Waqar, Wasim and Imran.
So can Australia and South Africa.
England’s recent Ashes wins were on the back of Graeme Swann in 2013 and Flintoff, Jones and Harmison in 2005.
The Indian cricket culture worships run makers. Until this changes and they bow down to guys that can smash down the stumps and find the edge, Indian cricket will never rise to the top outside of when playing at home.
So, what is the one sole solitary reason that India can’t win the World Cup?
It has no bowlers.