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Sight Screen

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Can we have more?

I must confess to a bad attack of Oliver Twist-itis; a desire for more than I am being offered here.
You guys saw this story, about the BCCI finally -- finally -- being concerned enough about the team to order a review?
The good bit is immediately obvious -- coach Greg Chappell is a part of the committee; I would have been concerned had this been an entirely BCCI exercise. The biggest omission is equally obvious -- the selection committee has been left out of the review exercise; it should be included because team selection plays as vital a role in performance as do factors like individual performance, fitness, etc.
And then there is the part of me that wants more -- wouldn't it be perfect if the proceedings were aired live? Or failing that, the full report was made public? Surely the public, which invests time, money, emotion in the team has an equal right to know, from the body that runs the game, what is going wrong?
Then again, like so much on my I-wish list, this one has no chance of coming true, so hey...
PS: Will be updating this blog, off and on, through my day. I played truant yesterday (no, not referring to the blog -- I mean my work! :-) Overslept, just got in, and will now play catch up and in between, keep coming in here with more.


  • Old players treatment even if not in form and Physical fitnness of plyaers, any comments guys.

    Asked why "old" players were being given preference again and again, he replied: "You cannot sideline your parents just because they are old.

    "The team is in a period of transition and we should expect them to start performing soon. We will do everything for World Cup 2007," the BCCI chief said, adding that coach Chappell had conveyed to him that some of the players were not physically fit enough.

    By Blogger howzzatt, at 13:21  

  • Hey Prem,

    Last time I made a comment (the one about Agarkar), it seemed to snowball into a major debate. For the record, I only took issue with that one comment, which seemed unfair. Nor did I accuse you of catering to a fan base, merely of opinion-inertia (something we're all guilty of - Ganguly can't play off the backfoot, Dravid is too slow, Yuvraj can't play spin, Zaheer is the spearhead, etc). I've been an admirer of your writing since the India tour of Australia in 99-00 (ironically a time when you rightly praised Agarkar's bowling and rightly criticised his batting, so I know you're not biased). There's my fan-credentials. Keep up the good work. Now, if only you could get Faisal Sharif to post on this blog too.

    As to your point about telecasting the review live, I think that's a very novel idea. It's never been done before in any sport, but Indian cricket is not any sport. What are the chances of you getting the idea across to someone like Harsha Bhogle to make a case for it to the people who can make it happen?

    By Blogger Sudo Nima, at 13:36  

  • Hey Alvin: No sweat about the debate(s) raised on here; I actually hope there will be some, and that what there is, will be substantive.

    My only problem is, always has been, with the dismissing of points raised by suggesting that it stems from bias. Again, not that I am too worried about someone who thinks of me that way (if you think about it, isn't that the worst thing you can say about a journalist?), but because it stifles legitimate debate.

    Attack the messenger when you don't like the message may be a very 'smart' ploy -- but it effectively gets you nowhere.

    Not suggesting you were guilty of any of this, mind :-). It actually stems from a very extended conversation I had, with a group of three friends, last evening over a beer or three -- will write about it, either today or tomorrow.

    About the other, I can suggest (actually, Harsha reads this blog pretty regularly, so I don't even need to). But it will not happen -- the BCCI will not, no way, go for it, or even for a publishing of the review report, because it will then reveal more than it absolutely has to.

    It's like this: The BCCI is aware that anger is mounting, snowballing. The defeat to Pak last season, then to Lanka, now to NZ, have rubbed fans raw. It is an Indian tactic -- when a situation seems to be getting the public's goat, appoint a committee. (The last time a cricketing situation really got under the peoples' skin was match fixing -- the BCCI said, let there be a white wash, and lo, there was Chandrachud).

    But suppose you were to publish the report, what happens? Assume, for instance, that the committee indicts one particular player for his refusal to follow a fitness regimen (I can think of at least three, off the top, who have shown such tendencies over the years).

    Assume, then, that the selectors pick the same bloke(s), next time round. The public will ask how come, right? And who wants that?

    Later, peoples. Got work to do.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 13:53  

  • When this Indian team and the Board went through the last player pay melodrama the last time around (also starring Ravi Shastri), wasn't correlation between pay and performance one of the final outcomes? Do any of you recall? If so, it would be interesting to see if members of the team (at least the senior ones) actually get a pay cut for the recent (a period extending over a year now) performances. With the amount the team members make in endorsements, a pay wouldn't hurt them (at least the seniors) too much, but such a move would at least be symbolic. For all the celebratory blather these players get on every minor achievement (win in Pak: land awarded, win in XYZ, here's a car, and so on),

    I think such a penalty would be fair. And hopefully, for the money-minded among these players (they're human right? ;-)) serve as a nice kick in the pants that sets them in the direction of performance improvement.

    By Blogger RS, at 13:58  

  • Prem,
    When I read this sometime ago, the main thought that entered my mind was, would there be any panel to discuss the doings of the BCCI. But I too relegated that to my list of improbable wishes :)

    This part of the article interested me:
    And on the subject of the captain, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra said: "no judgment should be made in the midst of an ongoing series. You cannot sideline your parents just because they are old. The team is in a period of transition and we should expect them to start performing soon. We will do everything for the World Cup in 2007."

    Mahendra was the manager of the team that toured Aus, on whose return SG was kicked out unceremoniously, right? He seems to be very compassionate to SG now. Hopefully, that was genuine. But I didnt understand the analogy of the OLD parents well.

    By Blogger Toney, at 14:00  

  • "You cannot sideline your parents just because they are old."

    Have to admit, that was a great line by the BCCI guy. Got a good chuckle out of that one. Lets also bring back the grandparents. Gavaskar returns...

    By Blogger Vijay, at 14:02  

  • Prem,

    Agreed that BCCI is feeling the public anger being mounted. But is that reason enough to do this (something so good at least on the looks of it)? I mean, they could have just formed a committee of selectors and secrataries and state presidents (all BCCI). Instead they have involved Gavaskar and Shastri and Venkat and Chappell. The cynical that I am with all BCCI issues, don't understand whats the real reason to do this? What does Ranbir (or his mentor JD) want from this? After all, previous similar sutuations were not dealt with any action. As we all know there is no accountability, no checks and balances in the entire BCCI as far the cricket fans are concerned.
    So, why this? Whats the ulterior motive? is it to target someone???

    By Blogger Anand K, at 14:06  

  • What did Mahendra mean by that? That SG is old (a kind of direct statement than an analogy)? I dont think SG is too old for cricket.

    Or that he has failed as captain (is failing as captain same as parents getting old, not a great analogy then)?

    Or SG is to Indian cricket what parents are to each of us? I am not so sure of that either. Pretty emotional statement, in that case.

    By Blogger Toney, at 14:07  

  • Prem, not sure whether you followed comments on the other thread, here is my comment/question related to this article

    In this light, I have called for a thorough review of individual performances, the coach's report on the state of physical fitness of the players and issues related to alleged indiscipline. What alledged indiscipline ? Who alleged ? Is any of you aware ? As he mentioned about GC report, but that talks about fitness issues of some players only. (btw, any guesses who would fall in this category ?)

    By Blogger worma, at 14:10  

  • toney,
    any news on Ruchira Joshi? ever since he was made a moderator.. he his keeping silent. Not that I am complaining :-)

    By Blogger santa_from_NJ, at 14:14  

  • gr8 idea Prem....but as you said yourself: it's an improbable one. It's a simple case of "beggars can't be choosers"...the fans don't own the game...the BCCI does.

    I don't think we had any of these "committees" during Wright's tenure did we? Also, I wonder what would happen if we were to go through another couple of tournaments without doing too well?

    By Blogger rp, at 14:25  

  • As a cynic, I am not sure how much good this 'review' is going to be. The mentality still remains that 'Sehwag is too good to be let go' and 'Ganguly is the most successful captain'.

    If we had truly bold 'reviewers', we would not bat an eyelid to take Sehwag out of the squad along with Bajji and the likes.

    There's one thing to pursue a player and another to let him sort out his issues at a domestic level. But I guess the PR money is too strong to keep such guys out of the reckoning.

    Not really confident of the review coming out with true action items or actions.

    By Blogger RPM, at 14:33  

  • danta, I think he is biding his time :) Ruchir, your friend misses you...

    By Blogger Toney, at 14:38  

  • I meant Santo, of course, not danta

    By Blogger Toney, at 14:39  

  • Prem:

    How about some channel offering BCCI money to air the discussions that take place in the committee. I am sure BCCI will not refuse any money and the channel will get it back from the ads it will air. The ads will sell very high as most of the fans will tune in to see how the BCCI committees work and what kind of discussions take place.

    Under the glare of camera, maybe the committee will be forced to have contructive discussions instead of nonsense that will happen otherwise.

    By Blogger Ruchir Joshi, at 14:47  

  • Hi all,

    few days ago myself decided to cut out my cricket interests b'ze i'm emotional person and these defeats hurts to no limits,So i decided will once in while check blog and scores but wont get totally in cricket may untill we saw some positive out comes.
    And you know what knowing the result of final i think i am doing well.
    In that respect reviews and previews doesn't matter to me loss is loss and one or other way most of them are culprits.
    Forming commity is just another disease of as we never care about outcomes. party A does so when in power party B forms their own for same purpose erasing finds of prior.So why we should hope agaisnt hope about this commity.For Gavaskar i dono on how many commities he is, hope he remembers all of them.
    So as i said earlier for me no questions asked no answers seeking.I just likes to enjoy sport and if one gives pain instead better to leave them on their own world.

    By Blogger MAHER, at 14:47  

  • "alleged indiscipline"
    >>varma i think everyone is aware of the players coming late before departing to Zim. I would guess thats big enough indiscipline.

    By Blogger Vick, at 14:56  

  • ohh..ok vick..forgot that one. Hmm....no wonder Kaif's scoring tons of runs..;-)

    By Blogger worma, at 15:01  

  • Why should an employer share the performance review with his customers? If Cricket team doesn’t perform customers will/should make noise or move to other sport (if there are no options available to them, too bad for them), which may force the employer to take action against such employees.

    Also don’t get it, why selectors should be part of this review? Why would someone who has interviewed the employee, give him bad review? It doesn’t happen even in big incorporations.
    The coach/Manager who deals with the team should be part as he knows much more about each individual

    By Blogger Vick, at 15:04  

  • Ruchir,
    Even greedy persons, in this case organization, have their standards.
    So no matter who offers BCCI any amount of money, they will not let it telecast.

    On a different note.. if one has to sort out problems, wouldnt one want some privacy to analyse the issues and remedies? Why would one do it in public?
    Though I seriously doubt that BCCI really would analyse the issues.

    By Blogger santa_from_NJ, at 15:04  

  • what the hell me or you guys gona do even they do it publicly.
    For exa say GC says(live) we lost b'ze of this and that, ravi will b'ze of captain or so or so some one will say we lack power like bonds, akhtars.... i mean even they pin single reason whats the point??
    b'ze next day selection comity will sit and choose whatever they wants not what they discuseed or suggested other day.
    in short who is abide to impliment finding of that commity and will they do it??otherwise whats point whether do it public private or even dont do it.

    By Blogger MAHER, at 15:12  

  • what the hell me or you guys gona do even they do it publicly.
    For exa say GC says(live) we lost b'ze of this and that, ravi will b'ze of captain or so or so some one will say we lack power like bonds, akhtars.... i mean even they pin single reason whats the point??
    b'ze next day selection comity will sit and choose whatever they wants not what they discuseed or suggested other day.
    in short who is abide to impliment finding of that commity and will they do it??otherwise whats point whether do it public private or even dont do it.

    By Blogger MAHER, at 15:12  

  • Vick and Worma,
    I don't think players reporting late while departing for Zim is the 'alleged indiscipline' here. That's because Chappell has mentioned about it in his report after returning from Sri Lanka. We all have heard about it. I don't think Chappell prepared another report on 'alleged indiscipline' after landing in Zim. And we haven't heard anything yet in the media about Chappell's report on the current tour. I think we have to wait till the tour is actually over. Is this a good assumption? I think it is because the coach is expected to submit a report only after the end of the tour and not during it. So all these 'alleged indiscipline' in Chappell's report is related to Sri Lanka tour and nothing to do with that departure drama.

    By Blogger Jai, at 15:36  

  • maybe, jai, you are right. I am a little confused becaues after SL report (where GC highlighted attitude issues of certain players) ZK was dropped. What stopped them from taking action against others ? (and whatever did, how does it change now?). I was thinking more on the lines that GC might have mentioned something in the NEW report that he has sent from Zim (Mahendra mentions this new report, and fitness issues brought forth by GC in it).

    Anyway, as you can see, I'm confused :-) I'll just wait and let them blurt out more. Meanwhile, IMO, it is a bad idea on part of BCCI to have made this announcement NOW. Since they agreed that they wont change anything mid-tour, why announce it? I am not sure if GC wanted his NEW report to be publicly disclosed before the end of tour, in any case bad idea. The team is still on tour, and however weak the opposition might be, it still has a chance of affecting the players (who, I'm very very sure, already know the specific names that GC has pencilled in that report)

    By Blogger worma, at 15:54  

  • Fair enough, Prem. I've actually noted your frustration in the past, at people who counter any point you make about a player by saying that you are pro- or anti- that particular person. Nice to know that Harsha reads this blog. If you could get him to post every so often or even participate in the discussion, that would be great. The two of you and Faisal make up my top three in cricket journalism (though I must mention that I have limited interest in cricket outside of India and find it hard to relate to the Roebucks and Cowards of this world).

    I do agree that accountability is a direction that BCCI wants to stay as far away from as possible. I'm not so sure we would be worried about this if everything was being done right, but that's obviously not the case. I'm also not sure what the official status of the BCCI is - i.e. who owns it and who are they accountable to? - cause we may not have any right to question them. (Wondering aloud) If we do however, I think the media needs to play a bigger role in making our voices heard. We see a lot of analysis from the media, but that's mostly their own opinion. It might be interesting for reporters, when they're not covering games, to get out into the public and gauge opinions and present them to the BCCI/sports ministry. After all, if they're bringing information TO the people, they're excellent candidates to take information FROM the people as well.

    Finally, I'm not so sure accusation of bias is the worst thing a journalist can be subjected to. We all have our biases and prejudices, but that's okay so long as we understand and acknowledge them. Especially for a journalist or any writer, stating one's prejudices has got to be a whole of a lot easier than trying to avoid them.

    By Blogger Sudo Nima, at 16:09  

  • Mate Alvin,
    To put Faisal in the same league as Prem and Harsha is like putting Amitabh Bachchan with Arjun Rampal and Jimmy Shergil. Just a tounge n cheek comment. :) May be you should broaden your horizon and include writers like Brijnath.

    By Blogger Dadagiri, at 16:15  

  • dadagiri, It's not clear whether you consider Faisal to be inferior to Harsha and Prem or superior. If it's the former, you should read his article about the weight of bats used by junior cricketers - best article I've read in reent times. If it's the latter, you are entitled to your own opinion (because you've obviously read Prem and we've all read Harsha). I find Brijnath writes like a colonialist, Rajaraman is a little too rigid in his views, and the Cricinfo writers are exceptionally poor (they are to writing what Australians are to commentary) and come across as people trying to appear superior by being overly critical of anything related to Indian cricket. Prem writes like the opinionated smart guy, Harsha as the articulate smart guy, and Faisal like the inquisitive smart guy (he raises the best questions). The common them here is they're all very smart guys, which is what makes them very readable to me. I find most journalists to be of average intelligence (a lot of them would have been doctors or engineers if they were smarter), which is an important quality because it gives them empathy with most of their readers, but leaves guys like me feeling that they're listening to an idiot talk, which is fine for the most part, but when you actually come across a smart writer, you realize how annoying the idiots were.

    BTW, cool handle, especially if it's a pun on the skipper.

    By Blogger Sudo Nima, at 16:28  

  • I have to agree that Harsha and Prem are in a different league. I guess if Harsha were to start posting here, then that would be just fantastic!

    But getting other writers like Faisal, Brijnath etc would still be cool thing too.

    By Blogger rp, at 16:44  

  • Are we still stuck in the Socialist/Communist era where we have to appoint a committee for everything. Decision by indecision or better yet no decision at all.
    And PREM, were you with afternoon in 1992-93-94? what did you think of the decision by the Bombay police to cancel independance rock at the last minute?

    By Blogger Rishi Gajria, at 16:54  

  • dadagiri,

    Prem is like Amitabh
    Harsha is like Rajesh Khanna
    And Faisal Sharif is like Saif Ali Khan

    By Blogger Rishi Gajria, at 16:58  

  • Alvin,
    the Cricinfo writers are exceptionally poor (they are to writing what Australians are to commentary)
    I guess opinion differs but there are some bloody good commentators from Australia. Need I even mention names? And I dont know about others, I do like reading articles from Anand Vasu, Dileep Premchandran etc.

    Prem, if Harsha is a frequent visitor to this blog, then please ask him to contribute too.

    By Blogger Toney, at 17:30  

  • I like reading articles by Prem, Harsha, Dileep a lot but for match report sI like Prem the most. There was some zing in those that kept me interested till the end and still wanting more...
    It would be awesome if Harsha and Dileep start participating in all the cricket-rich discussions here (isn't this a good way for a journalist to get the feel of his/her readers...the passion/sentiments of cricket fans?)

    By Blogger Anand K, at 18:33  

  • Toney, you probably should mention names. IMO (your's may vary), with the exception of Ian Chappell, every Australian commentator should be broadcast only to Australia. I'm not commenting on their reading of the game or their delivery, which may or may not be good and is not correlated with them being Australian (in other words, they are good and bad in that respect similar to commentators from the rest of the world). What is exceptionally poor is their immense bias in favor of Australia. Again, with the exception of Chappell, all of them rarely talk about the opposition and rarely offer a neutral opinion. If you weren't watching the game and listening to Australians commentators, it would take you a while to figure out who the opposition was! Moreover, their inability to criticise anything Australian - the shoulder before wicket decision, the unceasing sledging and boorish behavior, etc - confirm this view. Consider by contrast, Harsha Bhogle, or even the much maligned Manjrekar. The latter may not have the same command over the language that his Australian peers do (and why should he? It's not his native tongue; he's comprehensible and that should suffice on that front), but is immensely insightful about not only the game but also a lot of the players (having played alongside and against most of the current ones) and that includes players on both sides. If you didn't know he was from India and couldn't place accents, you wouldn't know which team he supported. And he is one of the most ridiculed commentators by watchers, who are largely making fun of his accent.

    By Blogger Sudo Nima, at 18:43  

  • Why?? why??? this guy Ravi Sashtry is in the review panel?

    By Blogger Nambi, at 20:02  

  • alvin: I'm afraid Ian Chappell posseses a heavy bias towards Aussies too...I still remember that he supported the shoulder before wicket decision too...he did this while watching the replays later on...he may/may not be as biased as the other Aussie commentators...but he definitely has considerable bias. For that matter, most commentators do have that bias barring a few like Harsha or Boycott. Manjrekar could/should be called an anti-Indian commentator...he is very stingy when handing out praise to the Indian team...but is quite critical of bad performances...he definitely can use a bias-dose! :)

    By Blogger rp, at 21:25  

  • hi alvin,
    i agree with you fully, except for the part on Manjrekar's accent. Is that such an issue? He is one of the most informative commentators around. He is very critical of the Indian team, but his knowledge of the game is amazing.
    It would be great if Harsha, Faizal, Dileep etc start posting here. This will help in having a good debate on Indian cricket.
    The problem now is that the moment someone makes a point, it is promptly dubbed a pro-sourav or anti-sourav.
    And on the original topic of this thread, I think we should applaud the BCCI for setting up this review. But I think GC might have asked for this. BCCI wanted to review GC and his support staff. Am sure he asked the BCCI to have a performance appraisal of the players first. The review committee is very good. All the members in the committee including the coach are men who are strong enough to conduct a good and thorough review.
    Prem, you have seen the team from close quarters. Tell us who are the prime culprits when it comes to fitness and indiscipline. You always say 2-3 seniors. Tell us the names please :)

    By Blogger Thirdman, at 22:04  

  • Shyam,

    Zaheer Khan used to be one of them. We can speculate that Ganguly is too. Sachin appeared to be before his first back injury showed in the series against Pakistan in 1999. Hmm, who else? Cant think of anyone else on the fitness question. Indiscipline, I'm clueless on that one.

    By Blogger Rishi Gajria, at 00:31  

  • Shyam,

    The only time I remember Manjrekar lose his bearings a bit was against the India-Pakistan game in WC 2003. For the first ten minutes or so, him and Rameez Raja were verbal boxers. Each hyping his own side. It was hilarious.
    Ian Chappel is a good commentator, so is Benaud. There were two commentators from Doordarshan in the past but I dont know their names. Harsha is my favourite cricket commentator in India. His grace, his ability to convey the joy of watching the game and the fact that he can complement anybody as a co-commentator is wonderful.

    By Blogger Rishi Gajria, at 00:41  

  • Oh please, Boycott is unbiased ??? He is one of the most biased commentators but at the same time he isn't afraid to speak his mind. Thats what makes him so appealing. Ian Chappell is biased too but he doesn't buy into the hype like others do...he sticks to his guns.

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