Why has India never dominated the cricketing world over a period of time?
This a question I often ask myself. It is only common sense that India should be the team that sets the standards in cricket. After all it is backed by the richest board in the world who happens to hold the ICC under it's sway, and the talent pool found in India is so vast. The population of India is a billion while Australia has only 20 million people. Therefore India practically has 50 times more talent pool than Australia and also the money to properly cultivate that talent. In India, cricket alone dominates sports and is followed like a religion, but in Australia cricket has to compete with other sports such as rugby, and football. Despite the straight forward advantages India, has failed to dominate cricket over a period of time.
The main reason I say that India is not like the West Indian team of the 60's and 70's is because of flawed domestic structure. I don't mean to criticize the structure itself. The domestic structure is sound, but the running of it isn't. Most of the times selection is based on 'influences' rather than performances. In some cases the selection is even rigged. But in the past decade, the Indian structure has got a lot of attention from corporate businesses and rigging of selection is not so prevalent as before. The IPL has surely helped this, but still it exists. Also another saddening thing about the administration of cricket in India is the amount amount of politics that exists. Many decisions not are based on sound cricketing knowledge but politics. Board room politics is synonymous with the BCCI. The Pawar-Dalmiya fall out is a clear example to this. This is definitely not good for the game.
Also the coaching system in India is not the greatest when compared to other countries. Many rural areas in India are still not reached while others still lack basic cricket facilities. I also feel that fitness and fielding is not emphasized enough at the beginning stages. The quality of coaching is a worry. But the good thing is that we see parents encourage more children into cricket nowadays due to the money involved in it. Even if a player doesn't reach the international or national arena, he is guaranteed to earn decent money playing cricket for clubs and teams in the 2nd division. Also the standard of cricket in the Ranji trophy needs to improve. The transition level between a Ranji trophy match and a International match is too high unlike the Australian domestic structure which is very much equally contested as an International match.
Another reason I feel is due to the fact that India lack the self belief that every game they play they will win. The teams that had Vivian Richard, Micheal Holding, Steve Waugh, Shane Warne went into every match believing that it was theirs for the taking. And they were expected to win every time they stepped into the field. But India lacks that belief specially when touring. India at home, believes that they are invincible and are very tough team to compete with. The 2001 test series against the Australian's bears this fact as India came back from behind to script history. When touring this self belief seems to suddenly disappear. John Wright, former Indian coach describes a scenario to explain this. He says that the Indian team when playing in India is not bothered about anything. Even if they are 20 for 3, they know they'll play well, but when touring that belief disappears and if the scoreboard reads 30 for 2, shock waves run through the dressing room and the panic button is pressed. This is clearly a lack of self confidence and belief. But in the last decade or so, India under Azharuddin, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and now Dhoni have defied the trend and have started to win matches overseas. A new generation of cricketers who play aggressive and competitive cricket have evolved. The public and the team is no more satisfied with a draw match overseas.
India entered cricket late, and this is a certain set back. Teams such as England, and Australia have been for more than a century and they enjoy a certain 'legacy' and the country's and the board's have had more time to promote the game. Another team with this distinct set back is South Africa. They entered cricket a little late only to be banned later.
India is also a team studded with talented players such as Dravid, Azharuddin, Kumble, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman, Jadeja, Javagal Srinath that can easily compete with Ponting, Border, Richard, Waugh any day. Young players such as Dhoni, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag, Gambhir can also be added to the list. The team has never lacked talent but has lacked more often in the past to play to the full potential of their talents. The New Zealand team is not star studded like India, but they perform well, because their 'whole is larger than the parts' mantra. India in the last decade has started to instill this team spirit and now it can be seen clearly. But still India has a long way to go. A lone warrior in Tendulkar or Dravid fighting alone to salvage some pride is all past.
These are some of the satisfying reasons that I came up with to answer the question that has haunted me in the past and does even now. Hopefully that question in the near future would become 'What took India so long to dominate world cricket?'. Surely that day is not far off, and the 100th test win is just another sign that a new world order is arriving.