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Sight Screen

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Wrights and wrongs

Back home, after being off the map for a while, and logged back on for my daily cricket fix. So what do you know, Sunny Gavaskar stirs things up with an interesting column in the Hindustan Times (haven't found the link to the column itself at the time of writing this, but there's a reference to its contents on Rediff.com among others).

Sunny's assertion that several Indian players were abusive of John Wright is merely the platform on which he bases his real thesis -- that such behavior is only to be expected when an Indian team is managed by a foreign coach; equally, that an Indian coach will never have to suffer such indignities.

Geez! Of all the arguments for an Indian coach over a foreign one (in passing, does it strike you as odd that past players, administrators, commentators and columnists alike have wasted more space on this Indian versus foreign argument, than on the potentially more valid good coach versus bad coach debate?), this one has to be the silliest.

Over the past ten years, I've watched the likes of Madan Lal and Anshuman Gaekwad pander to the seniors, run their errands for them, and generally suck up to them while the seniors (okay, some of them) treated them with blatant contempt.

I've watched, too, the same seniors jump when Wright told them to. On Cricinfo, there's this article where members of the side reminisce about Wright's tenure. One of the incidents relates to Wright literally collaring Virender Sehwag and shaking him silly after the latter played a bad shot. There are others, not mentioned in that piece -- VVS Laxman being made to run around the ground like a truant schoolboy, after making an elementary error in his calling and running between wickets; Harbhajan Singh playing a loose shot, returning to the pavilion and being met by a furious Wright, who stopped him on the steps with 'Stand right there and think of what you just did -- and don't come inside till you are really sorry!'

The debate Sunny seeks to stir up is moot -- he, in fact, was part of the committee that made it moot by picking a foreign coach. The intriguing question is, why write this column now? Equally -- if there was such blatant misbehavior, as is claimed, and it was the reason Wright ran, did Sunny or any other bring such misdeeds to the Board's attention?

These are, after all, contracted players; surely it was the Board's brief to enforce discipline and to back its appointed coach. Did it? Or is this just one more of those loaded columns, written to achieve an end not immediately apparent?

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