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Sight Screen

Thursday, May 26, 2005

You wait, Greg, we'll watch

Ah ha -- Greg Chappell is finding out, and that right quick, how cricket is played, and watched, in this country.
The thing is, see, you have to see it from the media's point of view -- when India is not playing cricket, what the heck is there to write about?
Not international cricket, because what do we care if Pakistan beats Windies or vice versa? Not affairs relating to the administration, because god forbid, we might end up offending the powers that be -- besides, writing of such issues requires thought, and that is too much like hard work. So just the one option remains -- controversy, and if one doesn't exist, create it.
Consider the sequence. First, Sunny Gavaskar, for reasons he alone knows, dashes off a column about how senior players abused John Wright when he was coach (Sunny has surely spent enough time around the Indian dressing room to know how Wright talks to his players).
That this 'abuse' was reportedly the main reason Wright decided not to renew his contract -- which is daft, right there.
Then we dig out an instance -- well over two years old, incidentally -- of how Wright once collared Sewhag and shook him silly.
In passing -- by what mysterious process of alchemy does Wright grabbing Sehwag by the collar translate into abuseof Wright, huh?
The impression sought to be conveyed, in various media reports, is of assiduous detective work having unearthed this incident. To not be particularly polite, nuts -- the incident is, and has been for a long time, common knowledge. Oh, and incidentally -- when Cricinfo did that feature, where they asked the players for their memories of Wright, Rahul Dravid openly talked of this incident; that alone should tell you the team, and Sehwag himself, was perfectly okay with what happened.
Anyways, so there we are, trying to make a story out of thin air. We can't ask Wright for comment because the moment he laid down the job, the New Zealander went off to Christchurch, and is now ensconced with his family on an extended holiday.
So we ask Sehwag, and he goes, oh, no problem, he did it because I played a stupid shot; we are okay with each other.
Then we ask Chappell what he would do if he were abused... Geez, what next? Ask a psychologist what he thinks of coach-player relations?
For the record, Wright collaring Sehwag was not the only time the outwardly phlegmatic Kiwi vented his temper when his wards didn't listen to him -- anyone with a nodding acquaitance of the Indian dressing room can list dozens.
Thus, once, when VVS Laxman got himself stupidly run out, Wright singled him out after the game and had him, in full battle gear, run around the ground time after time, till he was ready to drop.
Once, when Wright spent oodles of time talking Zaheer through the pitch and plotting right lines and lengths, and then Zaheer lost it completely and bowled crap, Wright pitched into the bowler with abuse that would burn your ears. Zaheer got pissed off and said something, Wright cuffed him, the other Indian players watched the fun and figured they were lucky someone else was getting it that day... and the two later that evening went out for a beer and forgot all about it.
Once, when Harbhajan Singh played a daft shot in a Test match, he was met at the pavilion steps by a furious John Wright, who told Bajji: 'You bloody well stop right there you #@^%$%&; stand right there and think about the shot you played, and don't move till I tell you to come in.'
You want more?
Early on in his tenure, Wright arrived in Chennai for a coaching camp. Murali, the TNCA functionary (you can see him any time India is playing at the MAC -- his huge black beard make him an easy pick in the dressing room) who normally serves as liaison during such events, came to him that evening and mentioned casually that Sachin Tendulkar had faxed, saying he could not make it for the start of camp next morning, but would be a day late.
'Fax him,' Wright said, 'in my name; tell him he either gets here in time for the camp tomorrow morning, or he doesn't have to come at all.' (Postscript: Sachin came, in time).
The fact is Wright cared, passionately, for the team, its members, and the results it achieved; when things didn't go the way he wanted them to, when players did daft things, he lost his cool. Bottomline, though, was the players all knew where he was coming from; in fact, they bought into his passion and each time the BCCI made noises about not renewing his contract, fought to keep him back.
So enough already, darn it -- let the new bloke do his job, without having to answer questions like what would you do if Sehwag said boo to you?!

6 Comments:

  • Hi Prem,
    ALways been an admirer of your writing and your courage to discuss the issues without attaching the emotions to it.
    Wonderful blog. I will be visiting regularly. Please do not stop.:)
    Thanks,
    Gana

    By Blogger Gana, at 01:06  

  • [akr shuffles in, beaming]
    great post.
    am mighty glad to have been pointed here (by rahul ), for it is good to know that I shall be able to read you again...panix station!

    [scutters off to read back posts]

    By Anonymous akr, at 02:03  

  • Great to see your blog. I loved the Wright Sachin fax story. Hopefully we will get more such cut-the-crap writing from you:-)

    By Blogger ze rambler, at 06:17  

  • Hi Prem, Great to see your blog, my first stop on reeding morning feeds now :-)

    And yes about this one, I also think that Greg will learn the hard way about how to handle things in the Indian media, which can sometimes be his worst enemy. Especially in these 'free' days ! I think the first thing he shud do is stop talking to media till he has got entrenched in the team, gelled with the players in a camp or two. Otherwise it doesnt matter how well intentioned or straightforward his opinions are, they will get bad headlines !

    Now as rahul said, off to reading back posts :-)

    By Blogger worma, at 10:02  

  • ummm...:)
    worma:
    akr scuttled off to read back posts.
    rahul, presumably, had already done so.

    ze rambler: 'cut the crap writing'. spot on.

    By Anonymous akr, at 13:11  

  • oops ;-)

    By Blogger worma, at 14:00  

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