New Delhi, Aug 14: More than ever before, Indian hockey now needs clear thinking and some hard decisions if it wants to even consider rising from the debacle of the London Olympic Games.
Six successive losses are one side of the coin, the way Indians crashed to those defeats presents the picture that goes beyond statistics and presents a depressing scenario.
The fact that the team did not show the heart for a contest has left Indian hockey in a precarious situation. I must stress here that it was not the defeats but the attitude of the players who did not seem willing to battle it out that has landed Indian hockey in intensive care.
The need of the hour is to take some hard decisions, without fear or favour. Good teams are not built overnight, but it is essential to have a long-term plan and stick to it with frequent assessment of whether the training is on the right course.
Some blame for the current situation has to be attributed to those planning and managing the Indian squad's training programme and also the ones who are selecting the team. The administrators do not seem to have accepted their own shortcomings even as an inquest has been ordered into the Indian team's performance.
In terms of rankings, the disastrous Olympic Games have pushed India just one slot below their previous position of No. 10, but the psychological impact of the team's performance at the London Olympic could leave a bigger scar.
The Indian women's team, which did not make it to the London Olympics, is placed at No. 12 in the post-Olympics ranking. In their case, there were no projections of the women's medal winning prospects.
I have heard about some statistics being mentioned, saying that India had an edge in sorties into the rival circle in an odd match. These statistics seem to hide more than they convey.
Irrespective of the number of raids into the rival circle, the Indians rarely, if ever, seemed to be a threat to the custodians.
That Indian hockey chiefs must realise that a serious problem is at hand. It needs to be addressed immediately. Otherwise, Indian hockey is heading for a bleak future. The Champions Trophy invitation sent to India by the International Hockey Federation could delay the big overhaul required.
There surely would be a temptation to gloss over some shortcoming considering the Champions Trophy is just three-and-a-half months away. It could turn out to be double-edged sword that may cause more harm to Indian hockey in the long run.
India had missed testing their wares against top-notch teams in the Champions Trophy last year when the event was moved out of New Delhi, and new hosts New Zealand took India's place in the lineup.
India will get to play in the Champions Trophy one year later, but this will happen after the Olympics have ended and India's prestige in the hockey field has been badly dented.
India will need to bear some short term pain before aspiring for a better future. Unless the hockey officialdom identifies and nurtures players who are capable of playing competitively at this level, this could remain an unending pain.
A big overhaul seems essential. The hockey chiefs will have to draw a line and move in the correct direction. India's passion for hockey can also take a beating if such results occur regularly.