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Sight Screen

Monday, July 25, 2005

New brooms

Thanks, Anon, for throwing up this link to a Dileep Premachandran piece in Mid-Day (Mid-Day? Interesting, why is this not on Cricinfo?) on the Indian team.
There is a journalistic convention, called the DBB (deep background briefing). It's where a public official -- from the PM on down -- calls a journalist over, and talks to him off record -- and very frankly -- about the issue(s) of the day.
There are certain rules to this game. The journalist can never quote the person who gave him the briefing, not even through the nod nod wink wink route of 'the seniormost member of the government said' type pointers. The journo can, further, not directly quote what is said, even without attribution. In return, the politico or public figure will give us an honest briefing, tell us what is really happening, so it furthers our understanding and informs what we may write later.
Dileep, while doing that interview, could quite likely have gotten a DBB from Chappell, which he prolly used to inform the content of this article.
Hard to quarrel with the substance -- the single biggest problem for the Indian team, in the season gone by, has been a willingness to buy into its own hype, and a consequent reluctance to move away from the personality cult and change, when situations and circumstances clearly mandated such change.
Chappell has been saying, from the time he took up his job, that he is not particularly interested in raking up the past, or delving into what went wrong in the last season.
I'd presume that is for public consumption only -- no coach with an iota of sense will ignore the past when planning the present and the future. Given that, I'd suspect what Dileep writes is the clearest indication we have, yet, to Chappell's thinking on the team.
The significant passage for me is this:
Wright and Ganguly were reluctant to shake things up even after the vital signs had become a flat line, and predictability – second only to complacency in sport’s list of deadly sins – became the calling card of this Indian side.
While Australia and England strengthened, and Bob Woolmer fashioned an exciting Pakistan side based around mercurial all-round talent, India stood still, pathetically dependent on Virender Sehwag, in particular, and Tendulkar to provide impetus at the top of the order.
The batting order appeared to be dictated by individual whims rather than any semblance of a plan, and the lack of genuine middle-order beef to supplement the efforts of the magnificent Rahul Dravid began to tell as the last season wound down.

Judging by the first warm-up game India played on Sri Lankan soil (thanks, Raj), some of these thoughts are informing Chappell's thinking already. Significant, for instance, that he opts out of the crowd-pleasing ploy of pairing Dhoni with Sehwag in the opener's slot; interesting that he tries out Laxman in that position; curious, that Pathan comes in as first change and has been moved out of his role as opening bowler...
I'd have personally thought Laxman was best coming in at number three; but the key to making this work will be the discussions Chappell has had with the various team members; discussions aimed at giving each of them a sense of their place in the team scheme, their individual responsibilities towards the collective cause.
Tell you what -- judging from Dileep's piece, and this scoreboard, the next couple of weeks could likely be very interesting.

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