Monday, February 27, 2012

Are We Going Back to Greg Chappel Ways of Indian Cricket?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It is quite surprising that Team India which was favourites to win the World Cup (which they did) just about a year back is fighting hard to stay united on a cricket field. A team which rightly claimed Cricket’s most coveted title defeating Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in do or die games is falling like a pack of cards. Why is this happening? How is it that a team of talented players who were fighting it out as a cohesive unit just about a year back look in complete disarray? Well it seems we are going back to the Greg Chappel ways of playing the game! 

Let’s rewind into the past when the Aussie legend was in charge of the Indian Cricket (sorry but Rahul Dravid seemed more like an assistant in the team) we were encountering such lows with first round exit from the 2007 World Cup being the lowest point. There is one thing common between then and now – ‘uncertainty’ and such environments can lead to teams fragmenting which happened then and which is happening now. And the results are for everyone to see the team doesn’t look like one irrespective to the PR campaign that the BCCI and the team management is running. The team stands divided on thoughts, vision and perception. 

Greg Chappel had come with a plan to build a ‘team for the future’ but he ignored the present and his stint was one of the most disastrous phases in recent memory of Indian cricket. Although our new coach seems to be in the background the captain MS Dhoni seems to have got into the same though process. He wants to win the 2015 World Cup in Australia-New Zealand and is sacrificing the present. What else would explain the logic of rotation when there isn’t any guarantee that some of the youngsters playing in this tour would be in form and fitness to play the World Cup which is more than three years away? Rotating between Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir has done little good to the team as did Greg’s ways of changing batting order and having different team meetings with seniors and juniors and starting an infamous battle ‘seniors versus juniors'.

Fielding is definitely one of the drawbacks of Team India and it also always been so but Dhoni’s argument of not being able to play the ‘Top 3’ for their friending abilities defies logic.  If good fielding sides would result in sure wins New Zealand which has consistently been one of the best friending sides would have definitely had much better record. So having good fielders won’t necessarily win you matches which are decided by batsman and bowlers with fielding playing a supporting role. Yes Sachin and Sehwag have been in awful form in the series but dropping them for their solely fielding abilities is insane. Saving 20 odd runs make no difference when your team bundles out below 200 on a regular basis.

Captaincy is as much of skills as it is diplomacy. A captain should know what to speak in a press conference and what to hide from the media. Dhoni’s honest attitude and revealing it all to the media hasn’t worked in favour of the team. He has lost his calmness, Midas touch and should find ways to adjust with the situation around him. Being candid isn’t always the right thing to do especially when the odd are stacked against you. It’s time that we try taking each series as it comes and forget about building a team for the 2015 World Cup or else a 2007 like early exit isn’t unlikely.


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