Sunday, September 25, 2005

The email - analysis

So, here is the email from Greg Chappel to BCCI secretary, and my analysis, in bold letters, in various sections of it:

Due to comments made by Mr Sourav Ganguly during the press conference following his innings in the recently completed Test match in Bulawayo and the subsequent media speculation I would like to make my position clear on two points.

1. At no stage did I ask Mr Ganguly to step down from the captaincy of the Indian team and;

2. At no stage have I threatened to resign my position as Indian team coach.

Mr Ganguly came to me following the recently completed tri-series of one-day matches here in Zimbabwe and asked me to tell him honestly where he stood as a player in my view. I told him that I thought he was struggling as a player and that it was affecting his ability to lead the team effectively and that the pressure of captaincy was affecting his ability to play to his potential. I also told him that his state of mind was fragile and it showed in the way that he made decisions on and off the field in relation to the team, especially team selection.

So, you suggested that Ganguly is not doing justice to captaincy? The obvious conclusion is that you are suggesting him to step down. 'Asking'

A number of times during the tri-series the tour selectors had chosen a team and announced it to the group only for Sourav to change his mind on the morning of the game and want to change the team.

What I would like to know is that is this a new behaviour in SG's captaincy or was this impulsive decision making present even in the better times? If so, then these have obviously given good results also.

On at least one occasion he did change the team and on the morning of the final I had to talk him out of making another last-minute change that I believe would have destroyed team morale and damaged the mental state of the individuals concerned.

Again, I ask, did he do these kind of changes before? If yes, then it has not destroyed team morale in the past, and you opinion is wrong.

I also told Sourav that his nervous state was affecting the team in other ways as he was prone to panic during pressure situations in games and that his nervous demeanour was putting undue pressure on the rest of the team.

This applies to any out-of-form batsman. And this would lead to the debate whether he deserves a place in the side based on his captaincy or not. There have been other instances of out of form captains, and still their team doing well. In fact there have been cases of this same team doing badly even when captain did well. So no way of proving one way or the other. And since you talk about morale of players so much, so lets hear from them how and what was affecting them. And also whether SG used to be 'calm' in the dressing room in earlier times.

His nervous pacing of the rooms during our batting in the final plus his desire to change the batting order during our innings in the final had also contributed to nervousness in the players waiting to go in to bat.

Yes, but again, is this a new behavior in SG, or was it there in more successful time also? And, lets hear from the players who were getting nervous. I seem to get an impression that you are speaking a lot on behalf of others. While your understanding may be right, it still is one person's opinion. And it cannot be taken for the final word, as long as it involves the thought process of others.

His reluctance to bat first in games I suggested was also giving wrong signals to the team and the opposition and his nervousness at the crease facing bowlers like Shane Bond from NZ was also affecting morale in the dressing room.

This is ridiculous! Are you saying that wrong signals were going to the 'team' because he was going against 'your' suggestion to bat first? Did the players say that they wanted to bat first? Again, a lot of assumption on their behalf.

And facing Shane Bond is a separate issue. Not to be mixed with batting first(unless you are implying that he was reluctant to bat first to avoid facing Bond, who would have vanished in the second innings?). His nervousness while facing Bond was due to the fact that he was/is out of form. There is nothing new here. If you are implying that an out of form batsman should not be the team captain, then please say so directly. And then there can be a discussion on this direct statement.

On the basis of this and other observations and comments from players in the squad about the unsettling effect Sourav was having on the group

More details on the observations, names and comments of the players who suggested SG having an unsettling effect?

I suggested to Sourav that he should consider stepping down from the captaincy at the end of the tour in the interests of the team and in his own best interests if he wanted to prolong his playing career. I told him of my own experiences toward the end of my career and cited other players such as Border, Taylor and Steve Waugh, all of whom struggled with batting form toward the end of their tenure as Australian captain.

This may be factually wrong(Waugh did not struggle with form, Taylor survived a slump similar to SG is going through) and anyway irrelevant to his problems.

We discussed other issues in relation to captaincy and the time and effort it took that was eating into his mental reserves and making it difficult to prepare properly for batting in games. He commented that he had enjoyed being free of those responsibilities in the time that he was in Sri Lanka following his ban from international cricket and that he would consider my suggestion.

I also raised the matter of selection for the first Test with Sourav and asked him where he thought he should bat. He said 'number 5'. I told him that he might like to consider opening in the Test as the middle order was going to be a tight battle with Kaif and Yuvraj demanding selection. Sourav asked me if I was serious. I said it was something to be considered, but it had to be his decision.

The following day Sourav batted in the match against Zimbabwe 'A' team in the game in Mutare. I am not sure of the exact timing of events because I was in the nets with other players when Sourav went in to bat, but the new ball had either just been taken or was imminent when I saw Sourav walking from the field holding his right arm.

So, you are suggesting that SG went away because of the new ball against an attack of the Zim local team? The same SG who insisted on opening the innings right since his return to the team in SL? Why, amongst all these experimentations, didn't we see one in which SG batted lower down the order? Would have suited him fine not to face Bond, Vaas etc, isn't that so?

I assumed he had been hit and made my way to the players' area where Sourav was receiving treatment from the team physiotherapist, John Gloster.

When I enquired as to what had happened Sourav said he had felt a click in his elbow as he played a ball through the leg side and that he thought he should have it investigated. Sourav had complained of pain to his elbow at various stages of the one-day series, but he had resisted having any comprehensive investigation done and, from my observation,

So, you do agree that he has been complaining of this problem many times earlier also? Then why did you, just above, try to link it with the new ball being taken?

had been spasmodic in his treatment habits, often not using ice-packs for the arm that had been prepared for him by John Gloster.

So you take on issue and make two complaints out of it! One about his feigning the injuring to avoid new ball against a club attack, and second that he is irregular in his treatment of the same injury?

I suggested, as had John Gloster, that we get some further tests done immediately. Sourav rejected these suggestions and said he would be 'fine'. When I queried what he meant by 'fine' he said he would be fit for the Test match. I then queried why then was it necessary to be off the field now. He said that he was just taking 'precautions'.

And, against that club attack in an irrelevant game, isn't it fine for a batsman to take precautions? And esp the one who has been on tour right from the beginning (unlike some others) and has played all the games?

Rather than make a scene with other players and officials in the vicinity I decided to leave the matter and observe what Sourav would do from that point on. After the loss of Kaif, Yuvraj and Karthik to the new ball, Sourav returned to the crease with the ball now around 20 overs old.

So, again, the insinuation that he avoided the new ball? I already have underlined why I feel he would not and could not have been doing this to avoid the new ball, but that's just my opinion. Just like its your opinion that he did avoid it. And both opinions are based on the same set of facts.

He struggled for runs against a modest attack and eventually threw his wicket away trying to hit one of the spinners over the leg side.

Yes, we all know he is struggling for runs, although not always struggling in general as a batsman (like in the first test, he struggled for runs, but wasn't troubled by the bowling)

The next day I enquired with a number of the players as to what they had thought of Sourav's retirement. The universal response was that it was 'just Sourav' as they recounted a list of times when Sourav had suffered from mystery injuries that usually disappeared as quickly as they had come.

A list of the players, and the incidents they sited about his faked 'retirement' would be needed.

This disturbed me because it confirmed for me that he was in a fragile state of mind and it was affecting the mental state of other members of the squad.

Again, his state of mind is probably well known, since he is a struggling batsman. But about the mental state of other members, I wouldn't assume too much. I would rather hear from them.

When we arrived in Bulawayo I decided I needed to ask Sourav if he had over-played the injury to avoid the danger period of the new ball as it had appeared to me and others within the touring party that he had protected himself at the expense of others. He denied the suggestion and asked why he would do that against such a modest attack. I said that he was the only one who could answer that question.

From Saurav's answer, and from your own understanding, it is quite obvious that you are implying that in your opinion he was lying on your face. And you answer to Saurav ('he was the only one who could answer that question') also openly told Saurav that you feel he is lying.

I was so concerned about the affect that Sourav's actions were having on the team that I decided I could not wait until selection meeting that evening to inform him that I had serious doubts about picking him for the first Test.

So, you did tell him that in your opinion, he did not deserve a place in the playing XI? And doesn't that mean that he cannot captain the side(unless you wanted him to be a non-playing captain?). So, doesn't this mean that you are effectively telling him to leave the team as a player and a captain? And your very first point at the start of the email was that 'at no point of time you asked SG to step down from Indian captaincy'? Sure you did not 'ask' him (because you don't have the powers to, so you can only 'suggest') but you made it quite clear that you wanted that to happen, isn't that so?

I explained that, in my view, I felt we had to pick Kaif and Yuvraj following their good form in the one-day series and that Sehwag, Gambhir, Laxman and Dravid had to play.

Again, effectively you were telling him that he did not deserve a place in the side and an obvious corollary is that he cannot be the captain? So, you did clearly suggest him stepping down? Again, clearly goes against your very first point in this email. Unless you are dealing in word-play on the use of 'ask' instead of 'suggest/opine' ???? Are you ???? Because we all know you cannot 'ask' him to step down. Did you make it clear to him that in your opinion he did not deserve a place in the side as a player and hence as a captain?

He said that his record was better than Kaif and Yuvraj and that they had not proved themselves in Test cricket. I countered with the argument that they had to be given a chance to prove themselves on a consistent basis or we would never know. I also said that their form demanded that they be selected now.

Agreed, they are in better form that SG. And this is your opinion that SG needs to be thrown out of the team. But that's for the selectors to decide. If they chose him as the captain, despite whatever you may have reported to them after the SL series, then it was obvious that they considered him as a part of the playing XI. Since the could not have thought that the situation would be so severe (and against an opposition like Zim) that their chose captain would have to be considered out of the playing XI?

Sourav asked me whether I thought he should be captain of the team. I said that I had serious doubts that he was in the right frame of mind to do it. He asked me if I thought he should step down. I said that it was not my decision to make, that only he could make that decision, but if he did make that decision he had to do it in the right manner or it would have even more detrimental effects than if he didn't stand down. I said that now was not the time to make the decision but that we should discuss it at the selection meeting to be held later in the day.

Ok, from you own comments in this email, it seems that you made it quite clear to SG that you don't consider him fit for the captaincy of the side. Sure, you didn't 'ask' your very first point in the email is still 'correct'

Sourav then said that if I didn't want him to be captain that he would inform Rahul Dravid that was going to stand down. I reiterated that it was not my decision to make but he should give it due consideration under the circumstances but not to do it hastily.

Yes, it wasn't your decision to make. You could only give your opinion. And it was very clear what that opinion was. Even when SG acceded in public about this whole thing, he did say there were 'suggestions' for him to step down from captaincy. So, you didn't 'ask' him to step down. We all agree.

At that point Sourav went to Rahul and the two of them conferred briefly and then Sourav left the field and entered the dressing room. At that stage I joined the start of the training session.

A short time later Mr Chowdhary came on to the field and informed me that Sourav had told him that I did not want him as captain and that Sourav wanted to leave Zimbabwe immediately if he wasn't playing. I then joined Mr Chowdhary and Rahul Dravid in the dressing room where we agreed that this was not the outcome that any of us wanted and that the ramifications would not be in the best interests of the team.

We then spent some time with Sourav and eventually convinced him that he should stay on as captain for the two Tests and then consider his future. In my view it was not an ideal solution but it was better than the alternative of him leaving on a bad note.

So, what was the ideal solution? does it go against the first point in your email here?

I believe he has earned the right to leave in a fitting manner. We all agreed that this was a matter that should stay between us and should not, under any circumstances, be discussed with the media.

The matter remained quiet until the press conference after the game when a journalist asked Sourav if he had been asked to step down before the Test. Sourav replied that he had but he did not want to elaborate and make an issue of it. I was then called to the press conference where I was asked if I knew anything of Sourav being asked to step down before the game. I replied that a number of issues had been raised regarding selection but as they were selection matters I did not wish to make any further comment.

Apart from a brief interview on ESPN before which I emphasized that I did not wish to discuss the issue because it was a selection matter I have resisted all other media approaches on the matter.

Since then various reports have surfaced that I had threatened to resign. I do not know where that rumour has come from because I have spoken to no one in regard to this because I have no intention of resigning. I assume that some sections of the media, being starved of information, have made up their own stories.

At the completion of the Test match I was approached by VVS Laxman with a complaint that Sourav had approached him on the eve of the Test saying that I had told Sourav that I did not want Laxman in the team for Test matches. I denied that I had made such a remark to Sourav, or anybody else for that matter, as, on the contrary, I saw Laxman as an integral part of the team. He asked how Sourav could have said what he did. I said that the only way we could go to the bottom of the matter was to speak to Sourav and have him repeat the allegation in front of me.

I arranged for a meeting with the two of them that afternoon. The meeting took place just after 6pm in my room at the Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo. I told Sourav that Laxman had come to me complaining that Sourav had made some comments to Laxman prior to the Test. I asked Sourav if he would care to repeat the comment in my presence. Sourav then rambled on about how I had told him that I did not see a place for Laxman in one-day cricket, something that I had discussed with Sourav and the selection panel and about which I had spoken to Laxman at the end of the Sri Lankan tour.

Sourav mentioned nothing about the alleged conversation regarding Laxman and Test cricket even when I pushed him on it later in the discussion. As we had to leave for a team function we ended the conversation without Sourav adequately explaining his comments to Laxman.

Sure, this is a serious issue and all three parties(SG, GC, VVS) need to be questioned on their understanding of this whole issue.

Again, this is not an isolated incident because I have had other players come to me regarding comments that Sourav had made to them that purports to be comments from me to Sourav about the particular player.

Name of the players, with details of the comments they have made, would be needed.

In each case the comments that Sourav has passed on to the individual are figments of Sourav's imagination. One can only assume that he does it to unnerve the individual who, in each case, has been a middle order batsman.

Again name of the player? His view need to be sought, and what exactly was he told by SG about GC? But anyway there is no way of finding out the truth here, since we don't really know what GC would have said about that player to SG.

Sourav has missed the point of my discussions with him on this matter. It has less to do with his form than it does with his attitude toward the team. Everything he does is designed to maximise his chance of success and is usually detrimental to someone else's chances.

Well, again, that's your views. And since its a direct stand-off between your views and his, so its better to look at facts rather than what you think.

Despite meeting with him in Mumbai after his appointment as captain and speaking with him about these matters and his reluctance to do the preparation and training that is expected of everyone else in the squad he continues to set a bad example.

Specific examples of his reluctance....verdict from others (RD, AK etc) and maybe Wright's words on this. Also need to know how did he behave during the 2001-2004 period? If his behaviour has been consistent then despite being below acceptability, this issue itself is not that serious in the current context.

Greg King's training reports continue to show Sourav as the person who does the least fitness and training work based on the criterion that has been developed by the support staff to monitor the work load of all the players.

We have also developed parameters of batting, bowling, fielding and captaincy that we believe embodies the 'Commitment to Excellence' theme that I espoused at my interview and Sourav falls well below the acceptable level in all areas. I will be pleased to present this documentation when I meet with the special committee in Mumbai later this month.

I can assure you sir that all my actions in this matter, and all others since my appointment, have been with the aim of improving the team performance toward developing a team that will represent India with distinctions in Test match and one-day cricket.

As I said to you during our meeting in Colombo, I have serious reservations about the attitude of some players and about Sourav and his ability to take this team to a new high, and none of the things he has done since his reappointment has caused me to change my view. In fact, it has only served to confirm that it is time for him to move on and let someone else build their team toward the 2007 World Cup.

All personal opinions here.

This team has been made to be fearful and distrusting by the rumour mongering and deceit that is Sourav's modus operandi of divide and rule. Certain players have been treated with favour, all of them bowlers, while others have been shunted up and down the order or left out of the team to suit Sourav's whims.

This is a serious charge, need to know the names of the players he has favoured, and the ones left out. Need also to know what other seniors (RD, AK, SRT) think on this subject. Because if he has obviously been doing such favours, RD, SRT etc would have realised it and had discussed it with him. Specific examples needed of the 'shunting' of players you are referring to, and Saurav needs to be asked for the reasons for those shunting. Because, as you yourself would know, batting order and other such on-field activities are a captains prerogative. Even before SG joined the team in SL, we saw some shunting and experimentations in the batting order when RD and you were in-charge.

John Wright obviously allowed this to go on to the detriment of the team. I am not prepared to sit back and allow this to continue or we will get the same results we have been seeing for some time now.

It is time that all players were treated with fairness and equity and that good behaviours and attitudes are rewarded at the selection table rather than punished.

I can assure you of my very best intentions.

Yours sincerely,

Greg Chappell MBE

Friday, September 16, 2005

This just isn't cricinfo

An open letter to cricinfo...

Regarding "The season of discontent" article by Anand Vasu on 16.09.2005

First of all, why are the links to this article and to the one in which you report Ganguly's statement before the actual scorecard of the match? (they have changed it since then, but I'm sure many of you saw it)

Why is the heading of that section not about the match but about Ganguly's statement ? I thought the headlines were always about what's happening in the match ? (also changed since then, but hope some readers here are aware what I'm talking about)

Is it that cricinfo has decided that a test match involving Zimbabwe is not worth reporting in the normal template ? Because this is not the first time some 'news' has broken in the middle of a match, but this is the first time I see cricinfo adopting this trend of reporting.

Then, lets look at the article itself. First statement is : "He put a century on the board - a painstaking and joyless one - against the worst bowling attack in the world, in perfect batting conditions,.." - Well, wasn't it Dileep Premchandran declaring here in cricinfo yesterday that VVS Laxman has turned a corner with a century against the same opposition? VVS' century was more chancy than Ganguly's, even if faster(this is test cricket, on day 3, why do you need a Yuvraj like Harakiri?)

Then further the statement says: "and chose to make a statement that will rock the very foundations on which spirit and togetherness are built in a team of sportsmen..."- Are you sure this statement from Ganguly will rock the Indian team? Even if things are as horribly wrong as you would like us to believe, they are not wrong 'because' of this statement, they were 'already' wrong. So the team was already 'rocking'...public statement or not. Indian team does not build or breakup because of public statements, I suppose.

Then further going on " Even by his standards, though, this latest outburst is startling..." - Did any of your staff actually watch the interview in question ? Do you know what an outburst is? Or are you counting on the fact that majority of you readers are not watching things live on tv, and will take your word for it. You make it sound like Ganguly called a Press Conference to announce, just after his century, that he was asked to step down. If you didn't want to make it appear so, to the readers, then please work on your writing style. Because this is the impression it gives.

Further going on "Repeated attempts to contact Ganguly in Zimbabwe for a clarification failed, but one can only go by what is out there, in the absence of anything to the contrary..." - And what is out there? Except for what they are speaking out, isn't all of this speculation? Do you have even an 'inside source' which is telling you what is 'out there' ?

Further on "What's most worrying is the timing of Ganguly's statements. If indeed he was asked to step down - by a person or persons he refuses to name - before the start of the game, why did he wait till the third day to go public..." - You are again making it sound like he called up a press conf after the century to announce this thing. He was part of post match comments(like VVS was on previous day) and was also called by the tv team for an interview. Did anyone ASK him on day one about the captaincy thing, the way Harsha asked him in this interview?? Ganguly did not bring out this topic himself, and you know it. Why not report it as it happened? Why paint your favourite picture out of it?

"Prince of Calcutta, we've come to expect more of you. Don't sell yourself so short..." - Well, cricinfo, we have come to expect more of you too. Don't go the way of those innumerable Indian 'sports' website. Maintain your standards, and your 'global' perspective. Don't stoop to the level of Indian sports reporting, which often plays to the Indian galleries.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Jai aur Veeru !

Yeah...we all know which one is Jai and which is Veeru :-)

We all know which one seems to be bowing out first (and who will get Basanti ;-). But they've been one hell of pair...the good bad-guys...or is it the bad good-guys !

In any case, these two are sufficient for the entire gang....have been holding up Ramgarh for long enough. Almost did it again today.

Whether we like em or not(and I know there are enough of us Aussie bashers out here), they've been a pair to remember. So contrasting and yet so near perfect in their partnership.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The real game begins tomorrow

..after the hype and hoopla of ashes, tomorrow the real games begin :-)

Ok, seriously, atleast tomorrow is the start of a few test season for India. And despite much of the Indian cricket lovers being disheartened by the recent results, its good to remember that we are starting a 'Test Series' here. And we have been winning an awful lot of those recently! The last time we lost a test series was to Australia at home...and before that....umm..let me remember...was it Nz series in Nz, before the World Cup !

And its not as if we have been playing bad test cricket in near past. Except for a tactical blunder leading to the loss against Pak in bangalore, we haven't lost too many of those which we shouldn't have.

And, the relevance of the series itself? Well many think India is in a loose-loose situation, because not much can be gained against Zimbabwe. I think its a good way to start a test season, with a relatively easy game. Some of the runs made, and wickets taken, would help the players go into the tougher challenges more confidently. And most of our players are mature enough to keep the achievements against this Zim side in right perspective.

Especially for the batsmen, there is more to look forward to than the bowlers. Facing Streak and Blignaut in Zim conditions is probable more challenging (and hence helpful in gaining confidence) than some of the bowling attack that they are going to face on the subcontinental featherbeds (for most of our coming season is in home conditions). So runs made here, although not real top order, should not be taken as lightly as some would suggest.

For the bowlers, well Kumble and Pathan, who are both destructors of poor techniques, are likely to have good games. Not much help in their skill development, yet some confidence is what they can seek. And Balaji and Khan can look forward to getting back their rhythm and confidence, as Indian team would need them very much, when meeting tougher challenges at home.

All in all, good enough reasons to keep an eye on the action, probably not as much as Ashes(which drained so much of our energy), but just keep that score window open on the office desktop :-)

Cricket updates from subcontinent

Despite the Ashes being so interesting, there is enough happening on the subcontinental cricket scene for me to track it down here.

As we all may have read by know, Murali Karthik took 10 wickets for Lancashire in their Division two game against Essex. Scorecard here

Taking ten wickets in a county game is surely not as big as an international achievement, and we all know Pak discards like Mahmood, Saqlain, Mushtaq keep doing it regularly. But still, to put it in perspective, some facts:

1) This is the same ground (don't know if its the same pitch) where Aus conceded 500+ runs to the Essex side

2) This Essex side is much stronger than the one Aus faced, since they have recalled their international imports like Flower brothers etc.

3) Wickets taken by Karthik in first innings: Andy Flower, Ronny Irani, James Foster, Andre Adams, Darren Gough

4) Wickets in second innings: W Jefferson, G Flower, A Flower, Gough, A Adams.

I guess, its important to keep an eye on his performance, since he is already our second choice in ODIs. If he keeps doing well, he may nudge Bhajji for the lone place. Even in tests he can keep Bhajji on his toes, even nudge him out, on current form.

Other news, Chappel says he is seeing positive results in Indian showing on the field. As I have already expressed similar views a few times in my posts, I do agree with him. Sure, its still no-where close to satisfactory, but Chappel also didn't say so. Its improving, is what he said, and compared to where we started in this season, there's no denying it.

And Aus A, touring Pak now, is facing a bit of a tough time in their first game. We all are aware that this A tour (and their U19 tour to India) can be important for CA, since they all looking for some long term prospects to take up the mantle from some of their current stars.

As I had mentioned earlier, Pak team has the lookup of their national side (throw in Inzy, and it looks like a re-conciliatory national team, fresh from an internal bust-up :). Even the Aus side is strong through Hodge, Hussey, Watson, Haddin, Bracken, White(he should be closely watched)

Meanwhile, the other surprise, Bangladesh being made to bat first in their first test against SL, are 130/2 in 30 overs!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Any more questions?

So we lost. What were we expecting ? Why ? Didn't we fight enough ? Is that not improvement(enough) for NOW? I know we have the talent to win, we were so close, we could have won etc....but then, isn't that the 'problem' we have been looking to solve ? Isn't this inconsistency of individuals the main issue that Chappel had talked about solving, but over a period of time? IN DUE TIME, as I also have been saying.

I am often labeled as die-hard Indian supporter. But sometimes I feel its the other way round. Throughout this series I had been looking at Indian results, pointing out those small improvements, elaborately making my point that this team will, step by step, reach the declared goal of being winners again. But the normal supporters, they suddenly get swept by the hype that "India has reached a final"...and "now we are ready to win" ! Why, what made us think that we should win? Have we improved that much already...overnight(from our last game against Zim?)

Oh, and btw, about individual problems...sure there were some tactical errors by Ganguly as pointed out by Prem during the course of the match, but then all captains make errors. Who are the brilliant captains around ? Watch their 5-10 matches in row, and you would find a flurry of common mistakes (Prem would find even more :-), he is more than an average cricketing brain :-) ). The problem is that firstly we are sitting here and analyzing their mistakes, not making our decisions in the 'heat of the battle' as they are, and secondly that those cricketers are normal humans. They are not intellectuals or even very smart people. They are very good players...and then we try to chose the relatively smart one amongst them to make him captain. Sometimes, only very few times, by coincidence, you get a good player(or decent enough to hold his place in the side) who is a really smart person from social standards.

And I'm sure some of those decisions would have had good cricketing sense behind them. We don't know both sides of the story do we? And atleast I don't judge too much before that. (even I could have figured out reasons for some of his criticized moves)

And yes, as I pointed earlier, there are problems of inconsistency in all aspects of our game. And that is what I see GC trying to iron out. With very hard work. Unfortunately I did not watch the final game to comment on specific aspects of it, but anyway it was one game(despite being the final) in the bigger scheme of things.

As GC himself pointed out before the series "We're not judging a team on outcomes such as winning the series," "We've judging them more on whether they're improving in critical areas.". I believe he(and the team) is working towards this, and have set my expectations based on this.

Now the questions is, what do you believe?

Monday, September 05, 2005

(Only )Results Matter

As I wrote recently in my post on Sight Screen also(in the post ironically titled It hardly matters), it seems that we, as fans of Indian cricket, care only about one thing. Results. In today's world of crammed schedules, it seems that we don't have much patience for following the methods that lead to those results.

Consider this, GC had been saying for quite some time now that the team is working hard on improvement, and its only a matter of time before they start showing. And as I noted in my earlier posts, the signs of those hard-work were visible in the field. In the batting(as in application and willingness to stay at the crease), bowling(which had mostly been good from the start of the season) and fielding(which looked considerably improved in this tour).

But, had India lost this Zimbabwe game(mainly because we experimented our bench strength, and Zim is playing a much improved game, not only against us but also against Nz whom they gave a scare last time around) how many of us would have cared for what we saw on the field ? As Yuvraj said here
Yuvraj Singh says his century against Zimbabwe is all thanks to the hard work he has put in recently, under the watchful eye of India's coach Greg Chappell and his assistant Ian Frazer
and I saw this application even in the game where he scored a laboured 50 runs(against Zim, first time around). The difference in that and today's game could have been one good ball that he got then, or one chip that fell short of a fielder now. But now that we have good results from him, we're happy.

Look at Kaif, had he got the good delivery that accounted for him today in his last game also(which means he hadn't scored that century) we would still be calling for his head! But now we have the good 'result' and we're happy for a while.

My point is, sure we all want good results. But when the team is down, it would take a while to come back up. Look for the right signs of revival in their performance, but be patient for good results. They should be there in the long run, but for the time, just count those small steps forward.

And, IMO, the best way to do this is to watch the game. Closely. There are answers for most of our anxieties there. What's wrong with Sehwag, why is Dravid slumping, why is Rao struggling, why does Ganguly keep getting out to short ball, is Yuvraj playing for himself, why is India struggling against Zimbabwe, why are we treating bowlers like Ireland and Mahwire with respect etc etc. I found the answers to all these out there in the middle. Watching the game.

And one more thing that I find helpful is to follow the game not involving the Indian team, but the game itself being relevant in Indian context. For example if we are playing a tri-series against Nz and Zim, then follow the game of Nz vs Zim also (for example check how the Nz team also struggled in their game against same Zim in their second match? So, isn't it to our credit that we played better, Nz got allout, we didn't etc. then why are we still complaining about the early 'wobble' we had, that we lost a few early wickets ? Do we expect to win with 10 wkts each time?).

Or if we are playing SL next, follow the game that SL is playing, check which player is in exceptional form recently (ok they are playing b'desh, but still). It helps to look at the whole picture. For example, check how Murali is going for few runs but hardly any wickets in their games against bangladesh, and that too at home ! But we deride Bhajji, and ask questions like 'why is he needed at all, if he's not taking enough wickets' ! (btw, I remember even in the Indian Oil cup Murali didn't exactly run through the WI side also, but was economical)

Anyway, this seems to have been a long rant :) Maybe I was in this kind of mood since the last Ind-Zim game.

Friday, September 02, 2005

So what next ?

Fairly comfortable victory for India once again, this time against NZ. It does seem that things are starting to fall in place for this Indian side. And as it appears from this story, the Indians are starting to relax and enjoy the tour.

One reason, I feel, for India's away success (relatively) is due to the fact that they have started enjoying their tours more. It helps them relax, put behind the extreme pressures they face back home, and clear the minds for the fresh approach. Wright and Chappel seem to have instilled this quality in the team.

Ofcourse its still a long way to go, the Nz bowling was below par, the Indian batting was fluent only in patches, the singles were being missed a bit too much, but there were still enough positives.

And now, having the confidence of achieving a decent victory, I expect to seem some more plans being put to test in the next game against Zim. I expect to see Karthik play, maybe even RP gets a game. And JP may bat up the order.

The biggest plus, to me, seems to be that the visible improvement over the last two games seems to have calmed some of the nerves of the players. The tour seems to have kick-started for them now. No matter what happens in the finals against Nz, I now expect this team to have a nice comfortable tour resulting in good build-up of momentum entering into a tough seasons.

Btw, most of you reading this would already know that I've agreed to be a contributor at the Sight Screen blog. I still hope to keep writing relatively regularly here as well.