India lost the T20 World Cup to England in Adelaide. Tom Moody, Anil Kumble, and Stephen Fleming discuss India’s loss on ESPNcricinfo’s T20 Time Out, including how to rebuild for 2024 and whether Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli should retire from T20Is.
Two years until the T20 World Cup. What is the initial top-order fix?
Moody: Top order needs more movement. I would consider players like that. Identifying courageous players like Suryakumar Yadav. He plays middle order. Who can I put first?
In my top three, I’d like two of them plus an anchor player to play around circumstances, conditions, early wickets, etc., to right the ship if things go awry.
Do you think Indian cricket players virtually lose their brand as they rise in stature?
Kumble: In a situation like this, communicating with your team is key, not what experts or the media say. Yes, the players’ communication is about what style of cricket you’ll play and how you’ll support the guys who play it. Playing that style of cricket is risky. You may not always do well.
You may be blown away for 80. If you want to play hard cricket from ball one, you need team communication. Everyone must buy in—not just the captain and coach. Most importantly, we keep talking about bowlers needing to bat. I think Indian cricket needs hitters to bowl for team balance.
England does. Too many options today. Liam Livingstone. Moen Ali has barely bowled this competition. You need those options. Sadly, even India Batter-only teams are selected. It is crucial to establish the Indian team’s cricket style and make it system-wide. As you play more T20s, you will just display your power. That is how T20 will develop.
Moody: We must remember that Eoin Morgan’s legacy in English cricket is today’s result. He strongly supported his white-ball teams in T20 and 50-over cricket. You will experience highs and lows playing that brand, but you must stick with people.
So, you find the people who can offer that type of cricket that you think will succeed and spawn another generation of cricketers. You breed success, and India turns. Talent is abundant, but it’s about recognizing that this is the brand and we’ve got your back. We know you will fail playing that way, but we will help you technically, physically, and mentally.
Newer cricketers may be easier to teach this.
Moody: No. Jonny Bairstow’s tale. I am aware of his injury. Bairstow played differently 10 years ago. He has become a beast. Now look at him in Test. He is applying that to Test cricket. Isn’t he a different player now?
So,Surya Kumar’s purpose, if not execution, requires four or five batsmen?
Moody: He freelances. It is his nature. Cricketer authenticity. This is what I want you to do, we’ve got your back.
Fleming: I focus on the player’s duty, whether current or future, that this is the game’s direction. Tom, Anil, and I can tell you to play and be free, but you must learn how. It takes courage, resilience, skill, and confidence. You cannot just modify your game.
I would think, “Hey, I can see the game going this way,” if I am young. I will learn these. I do not have them yet, but I will learn and join this next team in two or four years since I’ll play a specific style.
“In India, numbers used to get you noticed, but today they get you numbers. Strike-rates must be higher, even if it’s lower.”
Stephen Fleming advises India’s highest echelon.
The player must learn that skill, which is exciting. From now until the IPL, demonstrate your talent. Morgan gaining buy-ins from players and coaches is interesting. It’s harder in India because you need high-end domestic buy-ins. You must persuade many coaches and others that this is the proper path. Because in India, numbers used to get you noticed, but now they get you numbers. Though lower, striking rates must be higher. It takes confidence and danger to get down on the knee and sweep and do these shots that are becoming frequent among the elite.
The cricket world must teach these players how to play top-order cricket. It’s not a big adjustment, but you’ll have to change some batters’ minds. If India were to compete with England in the coming years, some of these best batters may need to add a bit of the unorthodox and take the game on more.
Kumble: One is having that kind of cricket and choosing the guys, but I think it is equally vital that these players fullfil their unique duties wherever they play. Because it is not about playing that role for India and then changing your approach to domestic and franchise cricket. Pant entered in the 19th over today since he batted at No. 6 for India. He never does in domestic cricket. So, you need some kind of role definition as well, and I believe that’s crucial if you’re going to have a potent team where you need a back-up for those roles and not necessarily your six best players whatever role they can.
Moody: To elaborate, Pant came in 19th over. That is everything wrong with India’s entire pursuit. How could they have that much with that resource left? He will likely score 180 or 190 in the 19th over. But that was lost because of the brand that was shown for 70% of the innings. In my perspective, 60–70% of that innings was not modern enough to win the T20 World Cup.