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Sight Screen

Friday, September 23, 2005


Ashish Shukla, for the Press Trust of India, appears to have caught Greg Chappell on an off day -- the coach has spoken here at some length -- and to some purpose. A selection of the quotes that interested me:
"There are some things which are non-negotiable. Fielding and fitness are two of them. Unfortunately, players would not find it any easier," said Chappell as he prepared to head for India after the African odyssey.
"Guys who are buying into it are going ahead and those who are not buying into it will find themselves by the wayside," said Chappell in a chillingly plain tone.

Forgetting the BS about the tone (okay, not BS, journalistic embellishment, say), you can't fault what the guy is saying and where he is coming from. He elaborates:
"The pressure that we have applied is to find out those who have the character and the capacity to deal with what is required to be a successful team.
"Some of the guys have struggled. Some of them have resisted the change. But if you want to stand up to the demands of modern game, you have to be able to back up day after day.
"Over the last couple of months, everything we have done is to find out the players who have a way to go forward."

You know, it's hard to find fault with this. I remember some recent discussions suggesting that maybe he is pushing them too hard, too soon. To which, I offer a counter argument: This lot have been training with John Wright and the foreign physios for what, four years now? If they are not able to cope with the pressure of physical training after that duration, what does it tell you -- that Chappell is pushing hard, or that they did not push themselves hard enough all these years?
I know for a fact that this has been one of Wright's biggest grouses -- some individuals have taken fitness regimens seriously, but most haven't. He once told me he was finding it an uphill battle -- on tour, he and the physio would be in a position to keep tabs on the guys and push them, but come the next layoff, and though each player was given individually tailored fitness programs, few bothered to even do basic workouts, with the result they would come back totally unfit.
For four years, Wright has complained of this to the BCCI (on at least three instances I know of, very acerbically, and in writing); for all that time, the BCCI has made polite noises, but refused to take action.
On one famous occasion, just ahead of a camp Jagmohan Dalmiya, who was then board chief, very sternly instructed the selectors, when picking the team, to refuse to consider any player who had not passed the physical test.
The camp concluded, the tests were conducted on the penultimate day, and three players just flat out refused to take them. The physio and coach wrote out a report and submitted it to the selectors -- who called up JD and went, boss, you said don't consider unfit players, three have not taken the test, what to do? Never mind, ignore it, came the order.
All of which leads to my point -- sooner or later, these guys had to find out that modern cricket is a tough game; waning and waxing skills are one thing, but on basics such as fitness, there really can be no slack given. If not now, when was Chappell supposed to push -- after the World Cup?
"I don't deny we are putting a lot of pressure on the players. I am expecting them to reach certain standards. Those that reach and maintain those standards will be the one who will survive.
"If we want to have any chance of success in the 2007 World Cup, we will need a strong group, mentally and physically. We can't afford to fail only because we haven't prepared properly.
And also this:
"This is the intangible of running between wickets, mental strength, situational awareness, personality strength etc. Unless players are strong in three of these four areas, they are going to find it tells against them in the selection process.
"It has been our effort to appraise the players, and not just superficially. The support staff has come up with some key performance indicators which go beyond runs scored or wickets taken.

Seriously -- Wright started the process, but he was too good natured a bloke to get bloody-minded in the face of the BCCI. If in fact the BCCI wanted the next coach to take the team to the next level, this is it -- hard-nosed focus on doing the hard yards; on ending the reliance on easy runs and easy wickets to beef up averages, and focussing on performance parameters that will really count in the crucible of tough competition.
Feel like applauding. Also feel like asking, how long will this last?


  • Geez Prem, this is your 10th scrap today, some kinda record. Looks like Chappel got you talking !!
    Heck, I am enjoying your articles, hoping for some spicy GC-SG action :-)
    Ah, SG should GO !

    By Blogger Ridham, at 19:40  

  • I agree Prem. The only danger is, I can understand disciplining & dropping a player because of not following the fitness regime, or not working on their fielding. But I don't want players to be picked just *because* they're very fit, or just because they're good fielders. At the end of the day, it's about winning cricket matches, and you have to pick the best cricket players, not the best athletes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:44  

  • Prem, i can guess 3 players who refused to take fitness test..SG, ZK, YS.
    GC is right...physical fitness is imp. SG been a lazy bum...is resisting it and showing some dadagiri on GC.

    SG is history...i don't think he will even retain his place in the team.

    Good job with articles. Thanks for keeping us informed.

    By Blogger Rajg, at 19:46  

  • rajg, isn't yuvraj pretty fit? My guess is SG, SRT, no idea who the third one is: maybe AK, VVS or VS?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:49  

  • Prem... what is your take. Who would be the "bali ka bakhra"? Obviously one of the two have to go.

    It would surely be a sad day if they choose SG over GC.

    By Blogger Kannan, at 19:52  

  • roublen: doubt any coach is that daft :-) The point is not picking the fittest players, it is to ensure that your best players are all fit, and on top of their game.

    ridham: :-) When I started this blog, there used to be over 20 posts in a day. Had to taper off a bit, coz of work pressure; slowly getting it back now.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 19:54  

  • Prem said:
    "The physio and coach wrote out a report and submitted it to the selectors -- who called up JD and went, boss, you said don't consider unfit players, three have not taken the test, what to do? Never mind, ignore it, came the order."

    How does anyone know about communication between selectors and JD? kinda hard to believe this..
    "my sources" is "my imagination" ?

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 19:55  

  • yacrik: Oh, I can name my source -- then selector Shivlal Yadav, who showed me the report. *shrug* Unlike some, I never felt the need to blab each time I was privy to privileged communication. Oh, by the way -- how did the Anand Bazaar Patrika get hold of 'privileged communication' between the coach and the president and secretary of the BCCI? Or was that entire story someone's "imagination", you think?

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 19:58  

  • oh ... comon prem .... tell us the three players who refused to take the fitness test ....

    By Blogger srik, at 19:59  

  • I'm guessing the 3 players were Gangu, Zak & Nehra.

    By Blogger ClannZĂș, at 20:00  

  • im guessing ... SG, ZK, Nehra ....

    By Blogger srik, at 20:00  

  • wow clannzu .... wow

    By Blogger srik, at 20:01  

  • Prem
    Did you have anything to say on sanjay jha's outburst on his wifes portal?
    I agree with you and Indian sportsmen dont want to push ahead being not natural athletes this includes sehwag ganguly. Infact i remember one of the earlier trainers stating robin singh was the fittest but then he worked on it....

    By Blogger tombaan, at 20:02  

  • srik: sorry, not going there, pal -- quite frankly sick of all this anti- and pro- stuff.
    The point in any case can be made without naming names, so why bother?

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 20:02  

  • Let me ask a question to members on this site how many of you guys workout regularly? It is partly our culture compared to western guys. we all live where we have facilites but I hardly see a few indian guys workout ...so that goes for our players too

    By Blogger tombaan, at 20:04  

  • prem - ok cool; you don't need to name the sources; we are here at this blog because of what you write.
    ABP got the info from a anti-Ganguly BCCI guy who wanted to make Gangu look foolish.

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 20:04  

  • Prem, cant agree with you more. Think what has happened is that GC's ways and methods have taken SG by surprise. Guess he was of the opinion that he and his supporters in the team could get away with being lax wrt the fitness drills etc. Its a fact well known to all that SG's fielding standards have come down very very alarmingly over the past couple of years and not to mention ZK's lack of pace, loss of sting in run up and delivery stride. I think GC being the no nonsense bloke is just saying what he is actually seeing and i for one do not have a problem with that. Thats the only way you can go forward/ take Indian cricket forward. Got to be honest and GC is being honest in calling what he sees.

    By Blogger Harsha, at 20:05  

  • Prem,
    Do you reckon there is any possbility of reconciliation, or at least a successful working relationship, between GC and SG? Or does one of them have to go? If one does have to go, I sincerely hope you tell me there is not even a remote possibility of that being Chappell (IMHO would be one of the biggest mistakes Indoan cricket ever made). I say let him take control of the ship and have greater say in selectorial matters for at least a couple of tours. Monitor the progress, and reassess the situation after that if necessary. But having a coach with his hands bound, as Wright's evidently so often were, prevents them from even having a fair opportunity to achieve the goals set out for Team India.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 20:08  

  • damn :-) .... u always leave the most interesting part (to me) unsaid.

    anyway .... i have quizzed u enough times ... abt all the inside stuff ... ( nagpur, factions, this ...) ..... and as always, i understand y wont go thr .... no probs ....

    By Blogger srik, at 20:08  

  • no matter SG stays or goes, it is awful to have hear such things from your coach - that's too such a respected

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 20:08  

  • yacrick: boss, when you suggest I am lying, I had to respond, no?

    BTW... that is an interesting thesis. Which of the two, Nair or Mahindra, would be this anti-Ganguly chap? Both of them are indebted to Dalmiya.

    Besides, ABP is not exactly known to jump with joy at the prospect of making SG look foolish -- so was that it, or was it an attempt, by dragging all this into the public domain, to ratchet the pressure on the coach?

    Donno... maybe one day soon, RSM will let the cat out of the bag

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 20:09  

  • Prem, whats your take on this latest SG/GC saga. What do you think will happen now, i guess the board as you rightly pointed out is now really forced to make a choice between SG and GC. Who do you think they will go for and what do you see SG's future as?

    By Blogger Harsha, at 20:11  

  • Prem, do you know if Kapil Dev was involved in match-fixing ? I wasn't in India when the whole scandal broke.

    By Blogger ClannZĂș, at 20:16  

  • Prem : if I thought you were just smoking, I would not come here in the first place.
    nice of you to respond. please keep posting interesting stuff.
    just wondering if it was your theory(imagination) or actual event - that's all.

    Mahindra is a clever politician; I would not be surprised if he ditches JD and allies with Pawar.
    I would say anyone could be anti-SG right now, except perhaphs JD and Gavaskar.

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 20:16  

  • tombaan, right, but when the coach gives you a routine and you don't follow it, that takes it to another level, no?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20:17  

  • mahindra is the same guy kapil and chetan sharma had a fight with from way past is not it?

    By Blogger tombaan, at 20:18  

  • sgreed roublem for them it is a part of the job but i was just pointing out our cultural differences. how many guys can been seen running in india but here we see many people do that? esp in australia sports is their religion,,,,that makes a difference

    By Blogger tombaan, at 20:20  

  • Some emails I got from India say that the email was made public with the knowledge/approval of GC himself.
    they are just pretending that it was a leak.
    GC has been given go ahead to purge passengers from the team - shape up/ship out has been the mantra
    proposed by GC and approved by BCCI. However, there is a small but powerful lobby that wants to
    keep SG and the status quo. Mahindra wants to make GC's hands stronger and are playing the drama
    accordingly to neutralize JD and his machinations.

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 20:21  

  • y
    I wouldnot be surprised. remember once upon a time muttaih was also dalmiyas maan so things change this guys have no permenant interest only self interst

    By Blogger tombaan, at 20:25  

  • GC has publicly said that the leak is "not surprising". according to an email that I got, SG was told about the
    contents of the email last week before he went to the press claiming he as asked to step down.
    It was an attempt to fool the public. GC never suggested he resign before the ZIM series. It was AFTER the series -
    later SG started his politicking and blackmail.
    The email only got lengthier after SG's reaction.

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 20:25  

  • I don't have any insider knowledge. But if reasoning works for you, try this:

    It is not in the BCCI's nature to take extreme solutions -- so it will not dump either of the two.

    That means compromise -- and the most likely, in fact only, compromise formula is removing SG from captaincy and letting him be in the team as an ordinary player.

    Both the BCCI, and GC, will figure that works -- if SG finds his form again, everyone is happy; if he continues his slump, tough, he can take his chances on selection since he will no longer have the captain's prerogative of being automatic.

    I think too that if -- when -- that happens, Saurav just might finally get this monkey off his back, and find his form again. For too long, he has played like a guy with his mind on other things, and it doesnt take much guessing to know what those other things are.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 20:25  

  • yacrik: Oh, okay, cool. I try to flag any theories I float by noting up front that it is a theory, not something I know. No sweat, anyways

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 20:27  

  • prem is it nagma she is weighty issue you know :>

    By Blogger tombaan, at 20:28  

  • Prem, agree with your anology to an extent. My theory is that SG is not good enough to hold a place esp in the test squad purely as a batsmen and thats the reason why he is trying like hell to hold on to captaincy. I have my own doubts if we will ever be seeing the SG of old in brilliant touch and those flowing drives - its simply been too long a slump in his form to expect him to get back to form and certainly not against quality bowling anymore.

    By Blogger Harsha, at 20:34  

  • tombaan,

    By Blogger Sahir, at 20:41  

  • Prem: who is a better batsman? SMG or Dravid?

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 20:45  

  • yacrik: I don't compare across generations, boss, never have even when doing cricket reporting full time. is a bit like asking, what would happen if napoleon and hitler faced off -- who knows if nap can handle artillery-driven armies, or for that matter hitler's blitzes would be effective with foot and horse?

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 20:48  

  • Greetings Prem, I am getting back to discussing cricket with you at last after the world cup 2003 when we had a few interesting exchanges.

    By Blogger Prasad, at 20:50  

  • if you are talking of test cricket, india has produced 3 greats
    SMG, SRT and DRavid
    In the next level you have GV, VVS, Vengsarkar and Azhar.

    Is sehvag keeps performing the way he has been, he can get into the elite company.

    By Blogger criclogic, at 20:51  

  • I do not feel removing Ganguly as the skipper and keeping him as a batman alone will help alleviate the situation any. The resentment amongst Chappell and Ganguly will still exist, and I am not sure Ganguly is professional enough to not let it affect the working relationship. Not to mention, such a move would likely only further widen the fissures created within the team. Most could observe something was amiss with regards to the attitudes of the players in Sri Lanka once Ganguly was playing under Dravid. While this hypothetical situation may be different in that Ganguly getting the captaincy back would not be an issue, I still sense the possibility of players taking sides. IMHO, the time for negotiation has come and gone. Indian cricket has to sever ties with Chappell or Ganguly. I, for one, certainly hope it is the latter.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 20:52  

  • prasad: oh shoot, bad timing, mate... on my way out the door, in fact was just posting an adios.

    plan on going partying, and there's friends waiting. See you guys Monday for sure, and if anything really exciting happens, then will drop by during the weekend.

    Adios, all, take care

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 20:52  

  • If both played at the same time, who would have been number 1? SMG or RD or SRT? and who is number 2?
    and why?

    By Blogger Yacrik, at 20:59  

  • Sorry Prem .. the message got posted b4 I finished. So, how many players in the ICC World XI would pass GC's fitness criteria. Inzy-physical fitness ? Lara, Akhtar- team players ? Kallis, Gibbs, Boucher, Pollock - mental fitness and situationally aware?-remember D/L fiasco against SL in WC.
    A lot of this jargon thrown by GC at the Indian board is, IMO, poppy cock.

    I got an indicator for GC he better not measure righ now. Its called self-belief. That indicator way way way down in most players in the current team. We better be repared to lose a lot more games before we start winning. By the time RD who will succeed SG will be a basket case. Bcoz RD is not capable of ingesting sh*t thrown at him by media, ex-cricketers, and fans.

    By Blogger Prasad, at 21:00  

  • I have always said it doesn't matter whether it is SG or RD or YS or MK or AK or SRT or VS or IP or ZK or VVS or whoever is in Team India. As long as it is an Indian cricket team, irrespective of which zone or region that a player belongs to, that would ultimately win WC2007 - that is what matters to India and India's cricket fans.

    We need to look ahead and not rest on our laurels. Indian fans are not just restricted to any particular zone or region - they are all over India, if not all over the world. We need to keep them happy and have the Indian cricket team make them proud. And now is the time to build that foundation. In fact, we are already a few months behind and we don't have any more time to waste. Towards meeting this goal, survival of the fittest does matter.

    In my opinion, we - as cricket administrators, selectors, coach, support staff, players - have a responsibility to this great cricket-loving Indian fans. Unfortunately, some levels in this cricket hierarchy in India are still living in the past when the physical and mental demands of cricket were less strenuous. We better start owning up our failures - be it in the administration or coaching or producing results on the field or in the media, etc - and learn from our mistakes with a common goal of ruling the cricket world.

    I would need the whole-hearted support of the cricket administrators, selectors, players (who are fit and can fit into the fitness levels that we are demanding), media, and above all - the great Indian cricket fans.

    Indian cricket fans - I love you all very much. India will win the next World Cup. Please bear with us and support us through these difficult times. We should start producing results in the next few months - and then you will start seeing the success of this great Indian team on the cricket field.

    By Blogger GregChappell, at 21:58  

  • prasad,
    I think RD, Kalis, boucher, pollock, flintoff, harmison.. all these guys will pass the physical fitness test.. except akhtar, who has attitude issues, and inzy, who needs to get in shape everyone should be good.

    look at the aussie team. except McGill all of them are good or very good fielders. and problem with SG is not so much as lack of fitness but more of an attitude of not improving on that.

    and i refuse to believe that we would lose the amount of onedayers we are losing over last 2 seasons if we have a fitter team who can field better. if you put in hardwork the results will show automatically, and especially so in a team game. yes on a given day aussies get beaten by bangladesh but the chances of that happening are extremely low and thats why they have won the WC 2 times in a row.

    self confidence will come in when you are prepared better. if i dont study for an exam, it doesnt matter how self confident I am, i might not do so well. where as when I am better prepared i give myself a much better chance at scoring an A. and this logic should apply everywhere. and as chappell says, the reason for failure shouldnt be lack of preparation.

    By Blogger criclogic, at 22:30  

  • http://inhome.rediff.com/cricket/2005/sep/24gang.htm

    By Blogger criclogic, at 22:33  

  • I was forced to make a "truce" with SG for the sake of the 2nd Test against Zimbabwe. I had been assured by the powers that forced me into this "truce" that they would seriously start taking my suggestions, unlike what my predecessor had to go through - in vain.

    I believe in calling a spade a spade.

    By Blogger GregChappell, at 23:31  

  • "Let me ask a question to members on this site how many of you guys workout regularly? It is partly our culture compared to western guys. we all live where we have facilites but I hardly see a few indian guys workout ...so that goes for our players too "

    tombaan - isnt that a pretty ridiculous questions? How many in this thread actually play for India? Indian players are playing at the highest level and they need to be super fit to complement their talent. That is non-negotiable. Freddie FLintoff is very fit compared to what he was 5 y ears ago and you reckon if he wansn't he would have sustained the mental torture that went on during the Ashes.

    Being very fit will add another layer of confidence on a person and complement that with cricketing ability is a very good package.

    By Blogger jgohil, at 04:19  

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