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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Wright, Greg.... What more in store?

News: Dav Whatmore top contender for India's new cricket coach
Reality Byte: There is no one else in the fray!
Hypothesis: By this time all probable foreign coaches have decided it is not worth being the coach of a country of losers who believe in politics, corruption and dishonesty... and of course money, money, money!!!

I have always felt, to be a coach who can survive successfully in Indian scenario, you have to be a politician more than a capable cricket administrator on and off field: you have to be a political and on-field tactician who can shove the crowbar suavely. To shove the crowbar is an act (not art) any Indian can do. But to be suave and diplomatic about it - we have to look upto a White foreigner.

England disqualifies itself, having not been able to set its own house in order. Australians used to look down upon even playing India that for a while we never played them enough or were never accorded the same amount of grudging respect they accord to West Indies even today and in these times of bad times for the latter's cricket. They did not realise that a monetarily successful stint to ensure an out-of-cricket, retired life is what a coach should look for and that India with its cricket-obsession could afford that. It took a Kiwi - an average cricketer with soft-talk PR skills, white skin and strategy as well as a cricketing brain presumed by most to be more than average - to show the Aussies where the mother lode in cricket lies; how much money can be made with a little more than mediocre output. Not just India, but the sub-continent in general.

Given the Indian think-tank's rightful aversion for Indian coaches (the logic I would presume being who to select and who not to hurt!... so shop elsewhere), also, at that point the craze all round being to have an outsider for a coach (be it soccer, hockey, volleyball... be it Brazil, England, Pakistan...), Wright became by default the right man. But he soon became, as inevitability would suggest, Mr. Wrong.

Soon came the Testament according to Greg. If Sourav was Wright's downfall, Sachin became Chappell's Waterloo. Now, Tom apparently being a demanding, lay it down ('eat it or I'll cram it down your throat!'), tough West Australian Moody person, we have to look at a man who for the better part of his on-field cricketing career was part of the Aussie touring 15 more because there was no better 15th person. Actually if you look at the scenario, most Aussies on the bench are uncapped and raw but highly touted talent. When it comes down to resting the regulars to give the bench a shot in an inconsequential B&H, it shows in just about average light. The reason it looks remarkable or has looked remarkable is because all other cricketing nations are even worse. We saw what happened without Warne, Lee and McGrath a bit before WC. And during WC, although Shaun Tait took wickets he was very expensive, bettered only by Dilhara in that department. Come to accept it... Brad Hogg is not in the league of spinners as Warne or MacGill. He's just an average hard-working Aussie like Damien Fleming was, Jason Gillespie was, Simon O'Donnell was, like many was-es... So, back to our Coach-to-be... Basically here is a man who may succeed where Greg didn't and Wright reasonably did. Why? he's been the last decade or so anchoring his little dinghy of coaching skills in the sub-continent. From Sri Lanka to Bangladesh and now where more Dave?

Dav Whatmore (to be pronounced Dave but according TIMES NOW as Daav, perhaps to rhyme with Pau) has to ask himself if it is even worth it! He's been sallying forth from a smaller (hence less corrupt) island nation to a smaller beak-point of the subcontinent that has probably seen more floods than Cherrapunji receives rainfall and famines than Sub-Sahara gets drought. He should draw a lesson from the Late Woolmer's book (not the one the latter was to have brought out before he became late like a cold latte) before he becomes if not Bob-bed at least Chappall-ed. The same simple theory that politically works for Island nations such as Sri Lanka or Singapore is relevant to their cricket and sports too. By the sheer size of the country and the administrative network and hence the several divisonal, state, regional and zonal wranglings, it is hazardous to be an Indian coach. The pitfalls are too many that no amount of monetary incentive is worth one's self-esteem.

The biggest joke of'em all is that he is going to be monitored by another dime-a-dozen all-rounder (of the nuts and bolts variety) whose ODI strike-rate average is only better than Sunil Gavaskar's 36 not out of 60 overs on that fateful WC match in the 70s. This man is like many an Indian cricketers who were touted brilliant personified during their heydays - like Jadeja and even Azharuddin. One look at their strike-rates you can tell they wouldn't make the 30 probables for pre-tour camp today. These people were the ones who would slow down the match intensity with their limited and dour skills and play ODIs like 5-day matches, who brought glory to the rotate-the-strike if you can't strike theory, because they can't really accelerate when it matters. And these people go on television morning shows and talk about Viru not being consistent or Dinesh Mongia not slogging or Raina not pushing the consistency levels. Of course now, the Monitor in question is, granted, a shrewd and cerebral survivor who saved his skin with a timely century in his last innings on that memorable tour to Pakistan under Kris Srikanth's captaincy. Actually the team achieved pretty crucial cookie points on the tour, but the captain got axed because he is plain-talking mercurial player whose talk was unfortunately not backed by willow-wield. Anyway, quite a few skeletons fell off the cupboard and our cerebral Monitor escaped, being a survivor Mumbaikar and has gone on to more pitch report and post-match pre-award announcements filled with successful platitudes borrowed from all over the world. May be Whatmore only deserves someone of his ilk, of his same quality. Average meets average in the context of an average cricket-playing country whose cricketing ability is being over-valued by the cricket-frenzy mob, which has above-average delusions that their cricketing heroes are supermen and ├╝bermenschen; and of course, super-abundant myopia for what makes Australia a champion side it is. By hiring a Roman you cannot build a Colleseum. May be not even make a pizza!

I do understand that to be a successful coach one need not have been a successful cricketer. But come, come... you can't all become John Buchanans. Even he had to take a lot of flak from time to time. The fact of the matter is this: whether it is cricket or soccer or hockey, coaches don't take the field. When it comes to dealing with on-field issues, the playing 11 must give it all. Classic example was Gillie's 149 in the WC-2007 Finals. To pull that last bit of 'hmmph' from your resources deep within is what winners are made of.

Foreign coaches must shirk away from Indian moolah and let Indian cricket either stew in its own fire or rise like the proverbial phoenix and reassert its delusive superior abilities. A few individual knocks to be recalled in times of gloom to lift the spirit is a thing of past. Indian cricket has forgotten the idiom that winning is a habit cultivated through self-motivation, overwhelming ambition & burning desire to assert one's belief in walking out with head held up in pride. McGrath coming back from injury to walk proud into the sunset will be remembered more than as an example. Those are stuff lores and legends are made of! To take a leaf out of Sidhuism, "You can't buy success off the rack".

Everyone keeps saying the hackneyed television monotone "Crucial time for Indian cricket". We've been saying this since 1987. Only the loudness of the byte has gone up. Two decades of crucial time is ICCCCCCU and BCCCCCCI must hang up its boot by probably outsourcing the BCCI to some Australian sports management company or American NBA panel of think-tanks. Add to it, these billionaire cricketers are squabbling over payments and salaries with their Board. The fact that 'There aren't many in the fray for Indian coach's job' shows the level of interest shown by foreigners towards Indian cricket's prestigious job. Whatmore must be mad. And, I think the Indian Cricket Union (if there be one) deserves a Euthanasia rather than ICU treatement before it slides down in rankings below Ireland and Scotland.

I am frustrated everytime this topic comes up. What more, yaar?

1 comment:

Srini said...

"By hiring a Roman you cannot build a Colleseum. May be not even make a pizza!" ...ROFL!!!

Dear (sir) KK,

I quoted that just to relieve the tension a bit! Yeah... as usual your points were right on the money and I could not agree more on the various fronts. It is all about money, political manoeuvring and players riding on past stats. I mean... how stupid can a Tendulkar get by saying things like "No coach has doubted by commitment!", perhaps none else had the nerve to, or Yuvraj joining in the pandemonium... It is like "letting slip the dogs of war!" and one game we all play well is the blame-game.
And true thoughts when you say... since 1987 - more or less since my birth - we have been saying 'crucial time for Indian cricket!' Trust me, if we go to Bangladesh and may be torment - in cardinal revenge - the tigers to some 500 plus scores (let me keep that for my ensuing post in my blog, which I hope you can visit) and a couple of innings victories... and the people will be again... gaga over it! As Revathi says in Devarmagan, "there is only air that comes out" nothing else. The fans are one senseless fanatic lot - never mind if I find foes for saying it - the players just a team of somnambulists who wake up if something like a pie has been reduced from their contract amounts and coaches are exhibition ambassadors...