India's fab four need disbanding

So the worst fears are being realised. A middle order, perhaps the best middle order that ever existed in Test cricket, is slowly, surely ebbing away. It is a melancholy sight.

In Bangalore yesterday, the inevitable erosion began to gather pace, as if after successive poundings the dam, once so formidable, had been all but breached. There is time for some running repairs, but on the evidence presented, not much of permanence.

None of India's illustrious quartet – in order of illustriousness, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly – looked remotely convincing. Only one, Dravid, made a half-century, and if he, like Ganguly a little later, was unlucky it was a misfortune waiting to happen.

Ganguly had already announced his intention to retire at the end of the series and left little doubt that he had received a gentle nudge from the selectors. It should not be long before his colleagues these past 12 years are given a similarly ominous hint.

If suggesting to Tendulkar that he might like to consider his options is tantamount to violating a Hindu god, there comes a time in the affairs of man, as W C Fields, that shrewd observer of the human condition, said, when one must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.

Together, Sachin et al changed the way in which India approached Test cricket. India have had batsmen of extraordinary gifts before – Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath and Mohammad Azharuddin in the recent past – but not so many in the same era.

They were as dashing as they were brilliant, and it has been their different methods that have made them such an awkward proposition. Together, before the start of this series, they had scored 35,011 runs, to which they added a miserable 111 yesterday. In 76 Test matches together, they have made 21,576 of India's 40,966 runs.

There has been a gradual, if interrupted, decline. Indeed, Ganguly had enjoyed something of a renaissance with the number of runs he has scored recently – 1,565 of them in 19 Tests since the start of last year. There was much trumpeting about the quartet's collective contribution to the stirring Test series against Australia which spanned last year and this.

True, India came back well; true, Tendulkar, stricken by treatable but debilitating injuries for years, seemed to defy a growing number of mutterers by scoring two centuries.

Yet even then there was the faint suspicion that the real glory days were behind them, that reflexes and desire were fading together and that they failed to recognise the slow decline of either. There have been indications since only of deterioration, which did not quite square with the huge expectation before this series, partly fuelled by hype, partly because of Australia's own gentle but discernible downturn, partly because of that recent, eventually tight series between the pair.

India drew a home series against South Africa, but had to come from behind on a cabbage patch at Kanpur to do so, and they lost in familiar conditions in Sri Lanka two months ago.

In six matches, Laxman has scored 342 runs at 38, a success compared to Dravid's 326 runs at 32.6, Ganguly's 307 at 30.70 and Tendulkar's 95 (in four matches) at 28.5. It is always sad to see greatness decline and it is all but impossible for selectors to decide when the day must be called (although it is tougher for sides when that day is called virtually at the same time).

Something has to give. There was the sense from the Chinnaswamy Stadium yesterday that the final surrender of this greatest of all middle orders is imminent.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home