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Sight Screen

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Continuing confusion

John Wright had suggested in an interview with Rahul Bhattacharya of Cricinfo the need for radical changes in the composition of the national selection committee.
His single biggest grouse with the existing system? Not corruption, not bias, but the absence of continuity.
Keep that in mind, while you read this Faisal Shariff story on the National Cricket Academy or, as he re-christens it, the No Continuity Academy.
And then read this one, and weep.
The thing with this second story, on the BCCI's talent spotting initiative, is this: I've long been arguing that Indian cricket's single biggest need is professionalism. So now, here's a 'professional' organization, with little to show. So where's the catch?
Perhaps it lies in how we define 'professional' -- thus, a guy doesn't become one merely because he is paid for the job he is doing; the trick lies at the recruiting stage itself. Are you hiring someone who is qualified for the job, and has the will, and the inclination, to see it through?
Hiring a former cricketer is not in itself the answer. In its second year, for instance, the NCA was headed by Sunil Gavaskar. This, you will remember, was when the Jaggu Dalmiya faction won the contentious election in Chennai that saw the end of Dr A C Muthaiah's regime as BCCI president.
The election concluded one evening. The first announcement, the next morning, was that Raj Singh Dungarpur had been sacked, and Gavaskar appointed in his place to head the academy. Perfect, you would think -- who better to head India's coaching academy than arguably one of the best batsmen we have ever produced?
Some six months passed -- and then came the news that Gavaskar had quit, saying he had too many committments on his time, and couldn't fulfil his duties.
He was the right person for the job, in the sense of having the know-how; the wrong person, however, in the sense of having too many other, more lucrative irons in the fire to really care about this job.
Same difference here with the Colonel -- Vengsarkar has his hands full with the Elf-Vengsarkar Academy in Mumbai; that leaves him hardly any time to get his hands deep down dirty doing what the head of a talent-scout initiative needs to do.
And at the other end of the spectrum, you have say a TA Shekhar -- right man, right job, right time. He works at his job of heading the MRF Pace Academy 24/7x365; he travels the country, holding talent hunts at various venues, hand picks promising youngsters, brings them to the academy, monitors every stage of their process, and continues to work with them even after they make the national team.


  • Prem - we finally got to see your photo on rediff! Quite close to the cartoon!! :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17:09  

  • really.. please share the link.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17:16  

  • http://us.rediff.com/money/2005/jun/15nasdaq.htm
    look for the bearded guy with a receeding hairline - looks like Prem Panicker based on his cartoon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17:22  

  • cant agree with you more. The cartoon is spot on

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17:27  

  • Prem - while on the subject of Professional resources being used by BCCI, I think that Greg would be an interesting choice. I am sure all of us should wait until we pass judgement on what he can and will acheive with the Indian Team. However, I have a feeling that he has too big a mouth and the Indian media will be fed a bit too much. Greg may end up defending and defining his own statements a bit too much. How about a professinal media person for the BCCI? I think they have one who is paid but does not do his job so well ---- listen to our BCCI chairman's press conf and you will have a laugh riot at your hands

    By Blogger @mit, at 17:45  

  • Here are my views on Chappell selection:

    I think its a good move.

    Here are my reasons for choosing him over Moody. I felt Moody was in a very similar mould as John Wright. What John Wright accomplished with this team is exceptional. He inculcated a work ethic and discipline etc. And Moody would have done the same. That way he was a risk-free choice unlike Chappell. And may be that's the reason why players wanted him as well. Because its like a comfort zone for them to work with a guy like John Wright. But Moody is not exceptional in terms of coaching skills. If the Chappell experiment fails, we can always find a coach like Moody who is really good and committed. We can get Dave Whatmore, or Rod Marsh, or someone like that. May be Kumble or Dravid after they retire.

    But Chappell is in different league altogether. He is a risky choice. But if successful he will give us a lot more than Moody. First of all he is a great visionary and an extremely smart person. Whatever I have read, he has come across as an honest man with strong conviction who is open to ideas. And most importantly someone who is aggressive and smart. And he is different from Kapil, Richards because they were gifted (He was too, but he is more of a thinker than a performer!) He also has good coaching credentials and passion.

    Another thing is, he was willing to take up the job even after turned down the 1st time. So, he must have some passion (I doubt he is facing any financial trouble to go for the job solely for financial reasons!) If a man such as him has so much passion for the job, he will try to make it count.

    Moreover, this time Indian team is established with a lot of star-players. It would require a person with a bigger ego to manage them. Like Phil Jackson. I think he was the only person who could manage Kobe and Shaq in one team and make them win 3 championships! One of the reasons was he had a bigger aura/ego than the star-players. He had more rings than them. Same with Greg Chappell. He can take on anyone in Indian team on performance as a player/captain or coach. It would help him come hard on the senior players if need be.

    the things he said about Indian Cricket and general direction are very relevant. Discipline, smart preparation, commitment, and then talent. Also, he said something to the effect that everyone has to go when time comes etc. Which is good to see.

    The negatives I think are:
    He can be too aggressive. More than that, he has proved himself as a visionary. But management and strategy are two different things. Even a master strategists like Warren Buffet keeps himself out of the management of his company. He decides the strategy, hires a good management team and let them be. Chappell might have problems with implementing his plans. I think it will be great idea to hire support staff to do that. May be a bowling and fielding coach. People who can spend a lot of time with players and get things done. e.g. being in the nets with fasts bowlers to make them work hard and get better etc. Making sure discipline is adhered to. If he can manage that, he will be very successful!

    Lets see.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 18:04  

  • The discussion on continuity for some reason triggered something else in my head. Respect. Does anyone have any kind of respect for BCCI and the way it conducts it's buisness? I know some of them are sincere, but the body goes where the head leads!! and where has Dalmiya lead BCCI?? As an administrator he is unparallel, but he reminds me of a comptriot of his, the former Bengal CM Jyothi Basu. The boundary between power to guide and power to destroy is narrow and was crossed by both men at some point during their tenure!!!! So inspired are others by these men that they decide emulation is the best form of adulation!! Yeas, I am talking about supremo of USACA, Gladstone Dainty!!!
    Ah well, mindless rheoteric in the middle of the day to keep me awake!! Apologies

    By Blogger KB, at 18:19  

  • And idea How these TRDO access a player? Do they have any scientific methodology and equipments to do so or they do it just by watching them in few games with no TV coverage?

    By Anonymous Vivek, at 18:35  

  • Prem,Reading thru' Wright's interview,was forced to recall a mail discussion I had with you years back on the issue of having a 'foreign'coach for the Indian tam. I was vehemently arguing against having Wright and you were 'for'.How right you were then(you bought me over after the flurry of mails exchanged;) and it shows four years later in the performance of the Indian team.Link this to the NCA and atleast there is a semblance of continuity and consistency that has come in with Wright at the helm

    By Blogger Ravi, at 01:02  

  • Hmm Prem i think the best person to head nca would be a foriegener.Hmm If John Wright is intersted he shld take on a consultants role coz his experinces are valuable.Also if an Indian may i suggest Robin Singh/Chandrakant Pandit.They have done fantastically well in their previous coaching assignments.Also we shld look at starting more A tours.The last crop of players who came through A team like Ramesh,Karthik,Kaif,Yuvraj,Agarkar were all ready for Intl Cricket.So definately more Indian A team tours.

    By Anonymous Ashish, at 04:25  

  • I don’t see why TA Shekhar is the right person for the job. He appears to be a talented scout and a bowling coach. The selector thinks differently, sometimes combining all available information about talented players, looking at the wants of the team (here a coach/ captain’s analysis can help) and taking into account the development criteria for players and the aptitude of players to go further. This requires clear thinking, expertise and experience. He will oversee the development process of the emerging players. That will require continuity. Lastly the selector will be a shrewd thinker who will back the right horses and be ahead of the time.

    A selector should be professional and work on a long tenure. It should be regarded as a fulltime job. Selectors need a multitude of skills, which are not easy to find.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 07:54  

  • On a slightly different note, I'd strongly recommend Rahul Bhattacharya's "Pundits from Pakistan" for your reading pleasure.

    As for a fielding coach that the team has to have, why not pick Robin Singh for the job? I had the pleasure of having lunch with him a couple of weeks ago - the man is fit and raring to go.

    By Blogger mustt_mustt, at 09:51  

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