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Sight Screen

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Query for you

Was rapidly skimming through some of your comments; chanced on this one by Suresh Bala in response to the Mid-Day at mid-day post
Prem- i too was bemused by 'experts' criticizing Yuvis' departure. i am no fan of Yuvi, but he showed a mature facet of his personality yesterday in teh way he grafted and accumulated, eschewing all risk. he had been milking tehbowling with teh same sweep shot before he fell. only this time he thoughthe could clear the ropes with the shot. this happens man. batsmen get out. but both dravid and Yuvi brought us to brink of victory. 7wkts with under a 100runs @6 is a great position and even the WI B team wouldn't have lost it from there.In the old days people wud have cried, 'match fixing'.
and just the day before we all saw a magnificient display of spirit and determination at Edgbaston. the contest there was more unequal than the one at Premadasa, with {better} front-line bowlers holding nothing back against tailenders.
Its not a lack of talent as VS in his short burst showed. its not the lack of motivation. no side in the world celeberates its heroes like we do. its not lack of money, exposure or resources. the BCCI is the richest.
Discipline? now that is a grey area. professionalism? we certainly lack that in all facets of the game. But so do Pak and WI.
No i think some of our celeberated players lack character. teh first criterion to select players shd be to find the tenacious and determined young ones and not just the artists. 4 more RDs' with half his talent will turn this team into world beaters. tis is the ingredient that makes world champions and Olympians, neither of whom we have amongst a billion people. it can't be a race thing. but it is definitely a national thing.
the growth of 20/20 will introduce many countries to the game. these new countries, all of who have a better sporting tradition than India, will quickly assert themselves after a few stumbles and cricket in India will become liek hockey. Finally for India to not figure among the top 3 teams in field of 11 is a shame. it is even more pathetic when you consider that the game today, with the exception of Aus England & NZ is played only by developing countries.

So which is it? Lack of talent? Deficiency in character? If the latter, then what -- we shrug our shoulders, say Oh we are like this only, and move on? Love to know your thoughts -- on collecting enough, want to translate it into an opinion piece for Rediff.
And with that, adios for the duration.


  • We do not have it in us to win. I used to think that we lack facilities, proper coaching, diet, etc etc. That may still be the case with most sports in India, but even if we provide the best in everything, we still cannot win. We are all from the Vijay Amritraj school of 'Participation is more important than winning'. When Anjali Bhagwat, Anju George, etc would return empty handed from olympics, I would say "Anjali does not get proper coaching, the shooting facilities are poor, the equipment she is using is not world class, how do we expect her to win". But now I know that even if we place the world at Anjali's feet, she won't win. This is not a commentary on Anjali Bhagwat or Anju George, this is a commentary on the sorry state of Indian sports. It's not in our psyche to win. How else can you explain the Anjali Bhagwats and the Limba Rams and the Amritrajs who do really really well in Z-grade tournaments but come up way short when it matters (like the olympics, grand slam). We make stars out of players like Mohmammad Shahid (hockey) and rave about his stick stills. What use are his skills if he cannot score goals. What use is Dhanraj Pillay's talent (which he has in abundance) if he does not deliver in crunch situations. What use are Sachin Tendulkar's 70 odd test/ODI hundreds. In 1951, we were ranked in the top 70 or so in football and Japan and South Korea were ranked behind us. Now, we lose to countries like UAE/Oman, let's not even talk about Japan/South Korea. We used to be best in Asia in men's Tennis not long ago. Now, we do not have a single player in the top 150 or maybe 300. And in this bleak scenario, when someone like Sania Mirza comes along, we can't stop lavishing praise on her. A country like Turkey, without a significant weightlifting culture, is now a powerhouse in that sport. Argentina, with just 36 million people and arguably a poorer country than us, produces champions in abundance. Forget Maradona, the god among sportsmen, and you still have Guillermo Vilas, the olympic basketball champion, twice Soccer world champions, Gaston Gaudio. And we cannot even beat Sri Lanka in cricket. I do not see any hope for us, at least not in my lifetime.

    By Blogger rahul, at 15:57  

  • Prem,
    For repeated failures by Ind cricket team, following are true:
    Lack of talent & Deficiency in character.
    For Nation: Main thing is Deficiency in character. Minorities dominate majority becos of corrupt politicos who hold nation as hostage. They will sell anything for votes. India as a nation is weak and indecisive, which is reflected in sports and all walks of life.

    By Blogger Rajg, at 15:58  

  • I think we should just stick to playing the SAF games.

    By Blogger rahul, at 16:09  

  • Rahul:

    So what is your point?


    I am somewhat amazed at the response to this defeat as to how little blame is assigned to RD in all this. In my mind, all the mindless madness was started by him by getting himself runout!! Also there is no question that Kumble sucked. However, if he sucked so bad, should we have allowed him to bowl all 10 of his overs?

    I think we lost the game even before the chase started by our lack of fielding skills (though we could still have won the game chasing, this fielding problem is the main factor.) In my mind over the years the 2 biggest things that have contributed to continued bad losses by the Indian team are 1. Match fixing 2. Lack of fielding skills. (There is a third element that is team and board politics).

    There is another important element that is understanding the basics and applying them even during tense situations in a match. I can not believe that these players have come to this level without understanding the basics. The problem lies in applying them all the time. Historically (at least in my mind), I have seen this used more often as an excuse by Match fixers rather than true lack of understanding or application. Azhar and Jadeja in my mind were two of the major culprits of this. However, with this team I am hoping this was not an issue. However, I am not sure how a person can learn how to keep ones cool irrespective of whatever situation. This may be a quality that may not be learned at all and that would mean just finding alternatives. No amount of persisting with people will help in the end.

    By Blogger S Fernando, at 16:23  

  • I totally agree with Rahul's viewpoint, no hope of seeing india do well in any sport not only in my lifetime but also in my grandchildren's !!

    By Blogger Ridham, at 16:27  

  • Rahul-
    I feel your pain. Here's how I have developed my own defence mechanism against our non-performing sportsmen and lassies. Dont nurse expectations. Not just lower them, but just desist from expectation of ANY kind. If they do come up with a once in a lifetime performance, take heart, savour the moment, thank the Gods for small mercies and go back to an enlightened Zen state of non-expectation. If you want to stretch the analogy just a bit, I think most of our sports-persons fulfil the Bhagavad Geetha's missive to 'Do Without Care For The Result.' So, they might after all be very evolved characters!

    What I would also not do is indulge in alternate deification and demonisation of our sports stars. Nowhere is this more true than in cricket. The teeming millions that make up the cricket following ones like us and the media are equally culpable. Just look at all the posts on this blog for instance-most of them are lengthy treatises on individual guys. 'Should VVS play?', 'Should Sourav be skipper?', 'Will Sachin come back?', 'Why should Kumble not be picked?' the list is endless.

    I could not give a rats behind if we had 11 average Joes with average records that win at least some of the time. We unfortunately derive enormous pleasure from individual acheivements- Sachin's 35 hundreds, Kumble's 500 scalps, Viru's blistering innings.... Perhaps the reason we only get individual sparks of brilliance is because we applaud and reward them disproportionately?

    Nuff' said-am getting of my soap box for now. Meanwhile am not going to hold my breath about how we do in Zimbabwe or whether Sachin bats with one elbow in Harare and makes 300 runs.

    By Blogger Painfully Sinstripe, at 16:32  

  • well said, rahul. we don't have "it" in us, indians. lets stick to playing politics or solving maths or watching bollywood or eating sambar whatever we are good at.

    By Blogger Abdul, at 16:44  

  • Prem - remember that wonderful link to online chess that you had provided earlier? Our team needs a machine that can give them minute to minute orders. For eg., Kumble balls short and on the legs, the very next minute the coach needs to send someone out (or if thats not allowed, then use the PA system!) to tell Kumble to change the line. If a fielder misfields once, warn him that he will be asked to do 200 sit ups if he repeats. If a batsman fishes outside the off stump, tell him not to attempt it again..
    Point is, they seem to FORGET simple things... And they need constant reminders.. Maybe they just need to eat more almonds to improve their memory.. They seem to forget that the target is 283 and not 183, that there are 50 overs in a match and not 35. There are 10 opposition wickets to be taken not just 6.. And if they cant remember, then the coach needs to remind them somehow, constantly.

    By Blogger Tiger, at 16:44  

  • This is all so much fun to read. I cant wait till the next time India wins a significant match and how more than half all these moaners about "India's losing culture" and so on will start singing "India Shining, India Shining!".

    Argentina produces sporting champions,Turkey is a weightlifting powerhouse, yes, but can they hold a candle to India in terms of the achievements our people have made in academia/business?

    And plenty of teams have lost cricket run chases from a position of strength, the Aussies, the Pakistanis, the SAF's, everyone.

    We lost, guys, and it is true, that we should have won, but RD and GC are one series old for gods sake, at least hold onto this sort of whipping till Nov-Dec?

    And rather than focus on what ails Bharat, lets just focus on this cricket team - they HAVE done well in the not-so-recent past (Natwest, Champions Trophy, Pakistan, World Cup).

    By Blogger Arjun Swarup, at 17:02  

  • @ rahul and painfully strinstrip:
    My sincere advice to both of you is to stop investing time on indian sport. Why shud we lower are expectations and thereby demean ourselves ?? We should remember that our sportsmen and esp our cricketers DON'T care about what we ordinary fans think, trust me on this. They are there to make money and it is a profession for them just like we engineers. So let's stop caring about them. IF you want to succeed in life and become champions, take heart from champions and support them and be like them.. IF you want to lose, lose like Australia coz even when they lose there is no disgrace in their defeat as they fight till the end.
    ok ok, you can see how frustrated I am with indian cricket.

    By Blogger Ridham, at 17:07  

  • Of course we can win. We have won before - the World Cup 1983, WSC 1984. Do you think those players are not champions?

    If you people believe that India cannot win because of an innate character flaw, then you shouldn't be criticizing the players, it is not their fault it is in their genes!! If you don't expect them to win, why do you expect the players to think they can win?

    Of course we can WIN.

    By Blogger nish_the_dish, at 17:14  

  • There are two wonderful reads and I blogged about this in my most recent post. Check out The Art of failure and it makes for a brilliant read on why people in general and sportsmen in particular choke. The essence of the matter, and what makes Australia a brilliant team is not that their cricketers are more gifted than our lot. It's because their mind doesn't cross an invisible boundary where skills that are usually second nature to cricketers suddenly deserts them. All sports has many equally skilled sportsmen, but the difference between them is the amount of belief they have in their own skills. The Indians probably had the aura of Murali and Vaas in their mind or probably attempted to do the extraordinary when sticking to the basics would haev helped them fine. We have had great champions like Paes-Bhupathi and still have some like Vishwanathan Anand and future ones like Koneru Humpey and Sania Mirza. But extending the failures of a team in one sport to a failure of all Indian sport is unfair and somewhat narrow-minded. GC's biggest responsibility will lie in not making Dhoni or Raina better batsmen, but in making them believe that they can match their skills with the best in the business.

    By Blogger Ashwin Ramachandran, at 17:31  

  • I'm sorry. I don't know why I wrote two wonderful reads in my last post. I have forgotten what the other read is. My bad folks!

    By Blogger Ashwin Ramachandran, at 17:32  

  • STOP!

    This is my two cents...I really we we should cut them some slack. We'r really being too harsh on the indian cricket

    team. I shall explain why...

    Its because we overestimate them. Period. We think they are better than they really are. Not to say that indian

    cricket lacks talent. Not at all! But what is talent really? The average indian would tell you that talent is the

    ability to (consistently?) tonk the ball. Yes it is, no doubt but cricketing talent also emcompasses defense,

    patience, shot selection, the ability to pace the innings, temperament, to name just a few.

    What makes Michael beven so special? He averages over 50 in ODIs! Unbelievable for someone who came at no 7 in most

    innings. He doesnt look half as good as a Yuvi but he's walk into any side in his time. But we indians ( i refer to

    the crowd, not the selectors) would prefer a Yuvi to a Beven perhaps.

    Again, Indian cricketers are very talented, but they are not necessarily compact. The tonking is all good. but the

    defense can certainly do better. Thats why a Rahul Dravid and a Mohammad Kaif can build an innings like the way they

    did when india were about 60/5 against Zim in the 2002 Champions Cup at home, when the ball was moving a bit early

    on and post that 280, while others perished for want of better technique. Had we lost that game, we would never have

    made even the semis and indian cricket would have been written about all over. But we did win, but does that mean

    that those 5 wickets thrown away by needlessly flashing outside off were pardonable offenses? Certainly not.

    We look at ODIs as played in a different galaxy from the Tests. But it really isnt that different. You do neeed good

    technique and application else its going to hurt you at some point. You probably get away with it on more occasions

    in ODIs yes...But whos to say we are not talented? Dada, with just the off side, now has 10000 runs. Its no fluke.

    Its brilliance but then dont expect consistency and match winning knocks each time. Dont expect him to do well on

    bouncy pitches. The technique is not there. Accept it.

    The seventh batsmen has definitely helped. I can remember more than a just a couple of matches when india were 5 down for not many and we've made close to 300. One of them mentioned above. So it made sense when it existed. The point was to win by batting. Make 300 everytime and chase anything down. But it had to end sometime. Now we have 5! If we have to win with just 5, we need atleast 3 of those 5 to be innings builders, not just smashers. And thats where AUS scores. Their smashers are also capable of building innings, be it a symond or a clark. Ours, not quite there yet. And in any case, once Tendulkar is back in the side, 5-1-5 is out of the window anyway. No way you can toss between Kaif and Yuvi assuming both are in reasonable form.

    Therefore, my thinking says its not lack of confidence. Its "talent" on an overall sense. We need more RDs and MKs certainly. We need an allrounder. Pathan could be one. So can Dhoni, if he could change his temperament. But then if he does change it, he may not be as effective. Who knows? I am sure all this would be discussed in the next few months by dada (astute as he is) and others.

    So give it time folks. And dont overestimate. We still have time for 2007.

    By Blogger venkyy, at 17:36  

  • 'We are losers..period' kinda response takes us no where and frankly there is no point in dwelling on that point. Moving on, of course Indian team's winning percentage seems to be disproportionate to talent. Of course it is difficult to quantify talent. One indicator is to look at individual averages, centuries, wickets etc. These individual stats, I believe hold a key to our low levels of success rate.

    Basically, Indian fans in general and indian players in general take a lot of pride in records, stats etc. I remember Ganguly once said something like 'like all cricketers, I too used to worry a lot about my averages etc..but after a while I stopped thinking along those lines.". My point is, human beings basically tend to succeed in whatever occupies their mind most of the time. If you think more about records, of course that is what you will end of with..more records.

    By this, I do not mean to say Indian cricketers are particularly selfish but rather there is a general emphasis on individual brilliance in media,among fans and of course on players. This gets translated into results. So, there it is, we have loads of records, no victories.

    Cricket is a team sport, the sooner the fans ,media and players get it, the more we win. As simple as that. More and more thinking about the team and less worrying about individual stats in media,fans etc and the more the wins.

    By Blogger flute, at 17:46  

  • Prem and others,

    I am surprised by the amount of criticism and analysis surrounding this game. Face it, we made too many mistakes and we lost. And I think conifdence was an issue here. Both Yuvi and Dravid started playing shots when the target was under 100 at less than 6.5 an over. They clearly went early...they went for it at least 5 overs too early....which is a sign of nervousness and lack of confidence. Until then Yuvi and Dravid had fashioned the chase brilliantly so there are positives to take from that. on the other hand I think the Sri Lankans would have to be wary because they are known for being strong at home, yet they looked pretty vulnerable and relied on several mistakes to pull of the win.

    I admit that, like painfully stripe, I had low expectations and perhaps that is why I am a lot more objective.

    On team composition, I see Balaji and Badani being instrumental to this side in the future, especially badani who can keep a calm head in finishing games, which is obviously a problem a the moment.

    By Blogger Jiet, at 17:56  

  • killer instinct ..that's what distinguishes a consistent winner (michael jordan, pete sampras, the aussies, lance armstrong etc) from an also ran.. and this team does not have a single player (except maybe VS)with the killer instinct. (Many thoeries abound for this - veggie diet, historical focus on participation rather than winning, self confidence, not visualizing winning, etc. etc.)

    On invidual vs team - one incident (even though casual) showed "how much we care about the individual accomplishments" .. Ganguly instinctively showing his bat to Ashoka DeSilva pleading for runs that were ruled as byes by the umpire. IMHO, that was shameful at best.

    By Blogger losing now, at 18:04  

  • Prem,
    At the international stage, selection, development and good habits are crucial. Besides 'talent', there is hardwork on key deficiencies, smart and disciplined approach, and other mental and physical preparations.

    Less said about the current selection malaise the better. A newcomer must have gone though a process of development, which is all about anticipating problems beforehand. It helps in introducing good methods, proper and thorough assessments and feedback on the key points. Actual game experience is critical. Just an over from Murali to Raina gave important indicators of Raina's weak approach. The smart cricketer learns quickly. The talented cricketer would 'tackle' Murali next time he faces him, and the management should be aware of that.

    Fitness and fielding could be the core selection criteria. A fitness drill followed by Ntini is to run long distances (10-20 miles). He is the fittest bowler around. Dedicated cricketers would stick to good dietary habits, and not allow unnecessary weight to build up.

    Here are some examples: Indian bowlers have failed to bowl disciplined lines and to plans. Nehra's success could have been Balaji's had he done the same. Selection and development could be proactive in encouraging tall, pacy bowlers to aim more for seam movement and bounce rather than swing. I have noticed Yuvraj getting out to a few times to lofted shots that JUST fail to clear the boundary. He should have worked on this problem. Kaif is content to play for singles and seems unable to add the occasional boundaries, which becomes crucial in many scenarios.

    By Blogger IssaicN, at 18:48  

  • I think it's idle to speculate on lack of killer instinct, etc. Never forget that the greatest batsman ever was not a particularly aggressive, competitive character. He did however, have the ability to focus on the task at hand. I think the main defect that can be corrected in Indian cricket now is an inadequate domestic system. There needs to be, like Australia or South Africa, a 4-7 team domestic league where the top 50-60 players in the country regularly play against each other on pitches which require you to play on both the front and back foot.

    Not to say that India can't or won't win if the domestic system is not reformed. Just that more high-quality domestic matches is one of the obvious steps you can take to make things better.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20:05  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Mock Turtle, at 23:21  

  • The reason we have not improved or learnt from our mistakes is just one!
    That is the short-term-memory of both the fans and the selectors!

    By Blogger Medium_Fast_LegSpin, at 00:58  

  • Coincidentally, I was just watching Bangladesh defeating Aussies last night on ESPN. It was such a cool performance (in hindsight). The asking rate at one point had gone to more than 7, but the Bangladeshis didnt flinch. Maybe it was a once-in-a-lifetime performance by Ashraful and his team. But, they didnt lose their cool and managed to win against the "best-team-ever" in the ODIs - the Aussies. Surely, there must be a lesson for the Indians to learn from this match.

    By Blogger madhugr, at 01:36  

  • The real problem is the younger core group of the Indian team - VS, YS, MK, HS, ZK, AN. These 6 guys have been around for long enough to gain experience in international cricket. But with the exception of MK and AN (who has been plagued by injuries), the others are simply pathetic. For example, people like VS, ZK, HS, or YS have the talent but do they have the attitude, the hunger, the drive to become the best in the world. If you don't have that drive to be best, u would never become the best even if u were given the best support staff possible. The only guy in the younger group, I would not criticize is MK, a player with limited capabilites, who works hard and is an honest trier. We need more people like him in the team. There is no point having the Sehwags and the Yuvrajs if they do not respect their talent. For Sehwag and Yuvraj to average 32 and 30 respectively given the talent they have is pathetic. GC must tell these 2 in particular to either pull up their socks or ship out.

    I think the selectors should not blindly pick talent for international cricket. They must take into account the player's attitude in their "committment to excellence". If there is no will, there would never be a way.

    By Blogger AA, at 03:01  

  • The Indian approach to the game is different from Aussie, basically because of the different meaning of the word 'sport' that the kids are taught in the two countries, when growing up.

    But that doesnt mean we cannot, will not, win over a period of time. We may need more than average share of talent to do it, but since we seem to get that too often (in cricket) we will do it. As we did over a couple of years period (around the WC04)

    And although its probably right to chase the Aus level of achievement, its not right to compare with that bunch all the time.

    Remember we played this tournament in SL. Not many teams beat them there, we came close 3 times. Not many teams chase 280+ there, we came close. Not even SL could chase a decent total here (against WI), we came close.

    I dont mean to say we are great, just saying we aren't 'that' bad. And biggest thing, we can be better, the same team, the same set of individuals. So please have a little perspective.

    And just remember that the pre Ganguly/Wright peak period also saw similar criticism of this team (the same core set of individuals), I would say even worse. Then they were able to conquer that, and be somwhere close to the top, for a substantial period of time.

    By Blogger worma, at 03:20  

  • The main criteria of selecting our team should be based on how strong you are mentally. It is not just enough to be talented, but you should be able to translate all your talents 85% of the time. Remember Robin Singh, he did not have array of strokes to play. But made use of all the talents and he was a committed cricketer. We could also have a full time sports psychologist to help the players. Zaheer needs to be dropped. We have seen enough of him.
    To be selected into our ODI team you should be a very good fielder. Runs saved is run scored and catches win matches. We should never be having Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble in our team. We need to have Raina, Kaif, Yuvraj in our team. We could also bring Hemang Badani into our team. Apart from being a good fielder, that lad has scored so many runs for us under pressure situation, we need to bring him back. We could also bring Murali Karthick into our team. He is a good fielder and also he is capable of scoring some runs. Although Venugopal Rao batted very well on the oppurtunity he was given, he looks like a pretty ordinary fielder. Going forward, we need to select youngsters who can also do very good fielding.

    By Blogger Umar, at 07:59  

  • posted earlier on http://willowandleather.blogspot.com/ Fairly lenghty for a comment :)

    1. "Lack of talent" - No, not at all. Their individual records speak volumes of their talent. Each and everyone of them is a potential match-winner in his own right. (Dont ya dare bring this up before Ganguly -- he'll start his lecture from the time he scored his first boundary in his backyard)

    2. The "5+1+5" strategy - No, that wasn't the reason. The choice of the bowlers could have been different (Balaji in for Zaheer; No, I wouldn't have played Yadav, because he is a batting all-rounder, someone in the class of Ganguly, bowlingwise), but the very idea of playing 5 regular bowlers was long over-due and it needs to be persisted with. Even when Sachin is back, unless the team has enough confidence in eking out 10-15 overs at less than 5 an hour between Sachin/ Sehwag/ Saurav consistently, the "5-bowlers" strategy needs to be given a decent run. Even with the super-sub rule, having 5 regular bowlers in the starting XI and a batting all-rounder as the super-sub makes a lot of sense.

    3. "Lack of motivation" - No. At this level, playing for the country is enough motivation. Cliched statement, but very true. The very fact that they are entering the field wearing the Indian colors is motivation enough. Add to it, the adulation, the endorsements and er.. the endorsements; you dont need to go find anything else. Though it is hard to believe, "motivation" isn't really the problem.

    4. "Lack of character" - Saying that they lost because they lack character is a harsh statement. Nehra came in to the tournament with a huge question mark over his fitness and he showed lots of character and heart in this tournament and put his hand up everytime his captain threw the ball at him. Isn't that character? In the final, Sehwag knew that his critics were baying for his blood when he walked in under the lights to bat. He blasted 26 off an over on way to a 22 ball 48. Isn't that showing character? Yuvi's century in the match against the Windies had character written all over it. For that matter, even Ganguly showed some character in his new capacity as "just-a-batsman-not-the-captain-fielder-in-the-deep". Agree that there were some (Zaheer, dunno why he immediately comes to mind) who could have shown better commitment, but that really wasn't because of lack of character.

    5. The "C" factors -- Confidence & Choking - Everybody from Arjuna "the-7+4-strategy-is-the-best coz-we invented-it" Ranatuna to Greg "the-we-need-to-bat-better-bowl better-field-better" chappell, and from Rahul "the-could-have-not committed-suicide" Dravid to my loving "the-dont-you-get-bored watching-them-lose" wife think that India lost because they were trifle low on confidence. Really? Let us see.

    There were a few individuals out there who didn't really have enough confidence to back their own abilities. Like Ganguly, who did not have enough confidence to back his ability to attack the spinners. There are hardly any other prettier sights in world cricket than to see the Prince of Kolkata gracefully dance down the track and send the spinning deliveries go soaring into the stands. Yet, for some reason he seems to have completely forgotten about that facet of his game. That sure is a lack of confidence. But did he cost us the game? No.

    Yuvi and Dravid played very sensibly and showed no signs of discomfort facing Muralitharan. Yuvi fell while trying to up the tempo a bit. Dravid lost his brain for a second and attempted a suicidal run. Those things happen and they weren't because of lack of confidence.

    At this stage, India were still on course. Kaif came into the match on the back of an unbeaten 83. He has been in these situations umpteen times before and knows exactly how to finish the game. Dhoni on the other hand had a bad day with the gloves and that definitely affects the confidence. This is where the the role of a mentor (coach/captain/senior players) comes into play. He should have been told that they trust his abilities and that he should build a partnership with kaif. Dhoni fell trying to play across the line to a straight delivery, something which he would have played to long on/off for a single on a not-so-short-on-confidence day. Pathan, I believe fell not because he choked. He believed that he could take on any bowler (forget Murali) and backed his ability to clear the boundary. Impetuosity wasnt really the need of the hour and the coach/ captain should have made that very clear to him what his responsibilities were. (I know they say that at this level, there really isnt any need for spoon-feeding -- but the best of the best sometimes have a tendency to look for guidance when the going gets tough; Dhoni and Pathan are still young and are in their starting years in international cricket - they needed guidance) It was a bit too much for the rest of the support cast to finish it off, though I feel Harbhajan's wicket was a total waste and that kaif could have managed to find the fence more often than not.

    India played 5 bowlers because they expected Dhoni and Pathan to play their roles with the willow in hand and that didn't happen. Whether they were told about the added responsibility or not, whether they knew what the need of the hour was or not, I dont know. India lost, not because their players lacked confidence in their own abilities but because they lacked confidence in their ability to win as a team. They lacked confidence in the ability of their fellow team-mate. Why wasn't Dhoni promoted ahead of kaif when Yuvi fell? Wouldn't that have boosted Dhoni's confidence? Why didn't kaif sacrifice his wicket and let Dravid bat on? Didn't he have enough confidence in his captain's ability to finish off the game? Would Pathan/Harbhajan have thrown their wickets away if they had enough confidence in Kaif's ability to finish the game? Why weren't the the rookies (Raina/Rao/Yadav) allowed to display more of their wares in the league matches? No team can win when pushed against the wall, if it's team members dont have enough confidence in their fellow member's ability. Having tremendous belief in one's own ability is a great quality -- Having the same belief in your partner's ability and putting the team's interest infront of self is an even greater quality.

    When we talk about a team's confidence level, it is important to understand the relationship between the following.. (a) the player's personal performance, (b) the effect of that player's performance on other members in the team (c) the player's response to the positive/ negative feedback/vibes he gets from his coach/ teammates.

    Together, these factors interact and influence the eventual outcome. Dhoni didn't perform well with the gloves. He was tardy behind the stumps and the bowlers (Nehra did) did openly show their displeasure at his work. His confidence was low during the changeover and he failed to come to terms with his mental demons when he walked into bat. A little promotion up the order (just one place) would have done the trick. It would have empowered him to give his very best. There are lots of instances in team sports, where one player's mistake demoralizes all the players around him, thus dragging the team to defeat. It is just like how one player's courageous display (VVS' 281) spurs the entire team to march towards victory.

    On a parting note, I dont think you need a travelling sports psychologist to keep the confidence levels of the team UP at all times. All it would take is a good sense of camaraderie and the basic will to put the team before self.

    By Blogger vishnupavan, at 11:49  

  • Could it just too much one day cricket and its inconsequence leading to complacency. We still have played decent test cricket over last 1 year, its one days where there is major issue.

    There is a lack of motivation and drive playing day in day out .. no wonder they lose in finals. I think its about being told if u dont perform then its u are last match - everyday . Ovbiously people like RD and SRT who are self motivativate dont need that treatment but i think a lot of others do.

    Talent doesnt come and go so ovbiously its about harnessing that talent and channeling it.

    By Blogger Karthik, at 13:43  

  • Prem-
    What's the email address to send write ups for a guest column at?
    Should they just be sent to you?

    About another loss to SL - it's a bit of a deja vu isn't it. Certainly think it's to do with lack of temperament. Time and time again, we find ourselves chasing 70 odd runs at 6.5 to 7 an over with 5 wkts in hand .... and we fail without fail!!

    For all the coaches and entourage they bring, someone must know how to address this ... or else we just flushing the money down you know what.

    By Blogger Amit, at 14:30  

  • I feel India have a mental block while playing SL in SL, similar to what used to happen against Pak in Sharjah. Someone had to play extra ordinary to break it... Sewag was doing it, but could not last long enough.

    By Blogger Shyam, at 15:09  

  • vishnupavan:
    enjoyed your analysis thoroughly.
    i remember a thread during the match (the final) when someone brought up the matter of approaching a target in bits and bytes...e.g. barry richards taking it ten runs at a time. i think, similarly, you can't lump everything into a "lack of ___" and try to remedy a wrong. yes, the goal needs to be to pursue winning as a team, but the pieces to the puzzle are in resolving individual problems, and then building them up as blocks that eventually take you to the 2+2=5 equation.
    obviously, this is all easier said than done. gc is probably following in lao tzu's footsepts--a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. but as long as we fans and the media dog him and his wards at every step and micro-analyze every twitch and turn along the way, we will only be distracting them from the task at hand, and ourselves from being the positive / dependable fans that we can be.
    actually, i take that back...indian cricket's fans have shown more consistency than any of the cricketers themselves have, having stuck with them through thick and thin, even if we throw a few dozen barbed jibes at them each time they lose.

    By Blogger dna, at 16:50  

  • There is too much complacency in the Indian sports period. The team and the players have to continually adjust, develop and even change in order to compete. Experience gained should give the team the personnel (ie. seniors) who can win matches. Equally, change needs to be worked on in a skilled manner. We know that administrators, selectors and managers of the sport can badly affect the game. In cricket, even fans are a source of problem, if only by any overbearing effect it has on the process of change and on individual players.

    1. Senior players should do more in the finals. Even Dravid and Sehwag (who performed in this final) could have handled the chase better once they were on top.
    2. Focus on the doing the basics right so the victory is easier to accomplish.
    3. Challenge the younger members to develop certain key match winning skills.
    4. Actively develop bench strength where players with different skill sets are available for the captain. Players with poor attitudes should be excluded regardless of talent.
    5. Expect certain minimum standards of fielding and fitness.
    6. Play the actual game with a cool head, apply the experience if that is useful or just be instinctive. Compete without getting fustrated. Compete to the end. Be professional throughout.

    India's failure in the finals is due to all of the reasons mentioned - talent, form, poor character, poor games plans, sloppiness in the first half of the game (batting -> collapse, bowling --> very stiff targets).

    By Blogger IssaicN, at 17:52  

  • Harsha Bhogle's column in te indian express has hit the nail on its head. As he says, until India find a good fielding unit, it will continue to languish at the bottom of the pile.

    The first and foremost criteria for selection in ODIs must be your fielding. The likes of Ganguly, Kumble, Laxman should never be picked for ODIs. Get 11 good fielders in the team and see how they make "mediocre bowlers appear good" as Harsha points out.

    By Blogger AA, at 19:26  

  • Hello,
    Given a malfunctioning system, in this case the indian team, one needs to ask the right questions in order to come to a concrete and potentially useful conclusion to fix the problem. The very first question that needs to be asked is, what is the goal of this team.? It is imperative that the members of this team come together and agree on a common goal. A goal that they all subscribe to and remain dedicated towards. The obvious lack of direction suggests the team management hasnt defined a serious long term goal as yet. Without this no "team", whether in business or sport can ever succeed. Lets assume this goal has been defined,the next question would then be if the team consists of the right personnal?Is the team made up of individuals who have willingly and happily dedicated themselves to the larger objective,and if so, do they have the appropriate qualities to contribute towards this goal? This question has to be answered by qualified professionals who can identify talent and assess mental and physical capabilities based on each individual's performance. Crucially, we need pros who can manage human resources well. It is not enough to pick the right individuals . In order to forge a successful unit, they need to be managed well and need to be constantly reminded of the larger objective. They need to be given a clear and concrete assessment of their performance regularly, where they stand with respect to others in the team, whether management expectations have been met or not and if not, what time period is at their disposal to make amends. Finally, in the event of failure, they need to be dropped from the team. Now lets look at the possible reasons why this Indian team has failed. Firstly, The management led by Saurav Ganguly did not define a larger objective for the team. At best, the Indian Team resembled a bunch of wild talented cowboys out to take revenge for past failures. They were not a team of calm professionals with clear objectives in mind. Players at best knew what the short term objectives were and their goals were defined for them. In the case of Akash Chopra, his objectives where defined and modified by Saurav Ganguly at will. In addition, the player was not given the confidence to go ahead and play without fear of failure. This is but one case and god knows how many more such cases existed. One individual should not be given the responsibility of making or breaking a player's career. Picking and backing players that one has confidence in is one thing, but to openly practise nepotism( the principle reason why Yuvraj Singh was picked ahead of Akash Chopra) is quite another. RD and GC have constantly spoken about the larger objective and have made a sincere attempt at assessing talent and ability from amongst the players at their disposal. This is an excellent sign. The indian team's performance in Sri Lanka at best reflects the belief in some of them that these changes are temporary and at best cosmetic(Read: They expect Ganguly to return and provide them with career insurance). If RD is apponted long term, then a clear assessment of this team can be made. Until then, old habits will rule and never die. Accountability needs to exist for everybody including the head honcho. This never existed when Saurav Ganguly was at the helm. In order to achieve consistentcy and excellence in performance, all round accountability needs to exist and moreover, a great deal of fairness, responsibility and dedication towards to the team rather than an individual in the team needs to be the norm. This team was a fiefdom and it has fizzled out. RD has no godfather in BBCI and will constantly be on his toes to perform. GC also knows he needs to perform. All players under these two will therefore be pushed to perform. IF Ganguly returns as captain, he has to be made accountable for his performances. Ganguly played the godfather and this was appreciated by some players who had not faith in the unprofessional meritless system set up by the BCCI. The long term solution is clearly to rectify that set up. Only then will players play for the India tem rather than for some powerful players within it.

    By Blogger Arjun, at 01:08  

  • this is my point. Everyone has their theories. Prem thinks we should pick cricketers who pump their fist and shout a lot, Harsha thinks we should pick only cricketers who are good fielders, X thinks we should pick players based on fitness, Y thinks we should pick youngsters to groom for 2011, Z thinks we should threaten cricketers with dire consequences if they lose, etc. The only way to test such theories is on the cricket field, with our top 50-60 players playing as many high-quality, competitive matches against each other as possible.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02:02  

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