Whether we win or lose this final Test, starting this afternoon which will conclude the England tour, some things have already been decided. They are:
I may not have been a successful tour, in terms of winning the rubber (even if we win the Oval Test, we would have merely drawn the series), but we have not done halfas badly as we expercted to when the team set out for England. And the players have been popular: they have got an unusually large amount of publicity in the London press, people have come to see them play, and some of them have been cheered for their success.
Batting-wise, we hae suddenly emerged as among the strongest batting sides in the world, with players who can both make runs and play attractively. It is an asset which should make as champions in one-day cricket. And already we have proved this by winning both the one-dayers against England, with runs and wickets to spare.
But we have suddenly found that we have no bowlers. Kapil Dev, afteryears of exemplary service as both a strike bowler and a stock bowler, has finally burnt himself out (at an age much younger than Richard Hardlee's or Imran Khan's) and is ready to retire. And there are no other pace bowlers or mediumfast, of merit. Atul Wassan took wicket when Glamorgan was chasing runs.
And the spinners, talented though they might be, are still developing. They could one day (perhaps in this very Test) turn match-winners, but not right now.
The fieling, in spite of all Bedi's efforts, and the fine example set by the captain, is still ragged. Catches are dropped and the team does not look physically fit.
About Bedi, I think Indian cricket has made a fine discovery in im as a manager. He may not be exactly diplomatic, but the point is: do we want a manager or a diplomat? For that matter, even our high commissioner in London, Mr. Kuldip Nayar, is not exactly a displomat.
And about Azharuddin, he has made some grave mistake, and one of these may have cost us the series, but being a good captain, like eveything else, is a process of learning. And his batting seems to have improved so much as a captain, which is a bonus in itself.
And there is Sachin Tendulkar, who, though introduced two tours back, may be considered as the discovery of the season. And, to think, he has minimum 20 years of cricket ahead of him. If I may use a toff phrase: the mind boggles.