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Sight Screen

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The fickleness of fame

Harsha Bhogle, in his latest, talks of the fickle nature of public acclaim.
There was a banner at Ahmedabad. It was crude, pathetic and, yet, a stark reflection of the reality of Indian cricket. Tendulkar-Master, Dhoni-Blaster, Ganguly-Disaster it said. The last time someone sat down to write a piece on the resurgence of Indian cricket, the man labelled disaster was the toast of the town, he had the world at his feet and I am sure the pitiable person who wrote that banner thought Ganguly was the best thing to happen to Indian cricket.
India’s cricket followers are fickle, and aggressively so. If Kipling thought triumph and disaster were twin impostors, here in India we embrace them; we celebrate triumph like there is no tomorrow and we grieve like there was never a yesterday. And should Ganguly, by some quirk of fate, score another international hundred, the banner will be hastily re-written.

Harsha also talks at some length on what the team can expect of its new captain:
That will worry Dravid less for he would have seen it all; including recently the initiation of discussion on contracts that expired a month ago! But he keeps his disgust to himself and remains upbeat about the future. Under him you can expect a little word to the parents of a new star about what their son is likely to be up against and at the same time, a firm refusal to allow a great player to whine. Like Chappell, he is a voracious reader of books, even happy to go searching for a recommended piece in a business paper, and his mind is open to any kind of inspiration. Most important, his team-mates can trust him completely.
In this regime, people will know where they stand and what is expected of them. There will be no false promises and nobody is likely to be led up the garden path and ditched. Dravid is a great admirer of Steve Waugh and you can expect the same directness of approach. Early in his captaincy, Waugh had to leave out Shane Warne. You can be sure that Chappell and Dravid will not, similarly, allow sentiment to come in the way of leaving out a champion fallen on bad form.

And finally, a note of caution that does not come amiss in these euphoric times:
But before we go overboard with this new Team India (and doesn’t that sound like the relaunch of a detergent!) a few words of caution. Whenever Sachin Tendulkar has done well, Indian teams, captains and coaches have looked good and we need to be wary of that. Also, these matches are being played on dreadfully dead wickets where batting is sometimes too easy; it isn’t always a measure of future achievement. Remember, too, that you cannot have islands of excellence in a largely malodorous administration; the empire will strike back and favoured selectors with localised mandates will be the most likely enemy.
Excellence is often judged by the strength of its adversary. This team will need to face sterner tests before we can pronounce the arrival of dawn.

In which context, I'd believe that despite the team being shorn of a host of stars, the next serious examination of the team is around the corner -- when we are done playing the final dead rubber, and come up against South Africa in, what, just about a week from now.


  • more than playing SA in india, IMO this team can be properly gauged only when they play outside the subcontinent against teams that are not spin dependant.

    By Blogger JD, at 11:28  

  • Prem...The big test is really the WI trip in May 06.By that time, we will know who will last the long distance and the ones who fall by the wayside.As long as we keep playing in our backyard and in Pakistan,one cannot state with any amount of finality that it is the 'dawn of a new era"

    By Blogger Ravi1010, at 11:37  

  • IMHO, in as much as the success is being attributed to GC, it is also because of RD's ability to comprehend, build upon and modify the planned strategy that is making everyone sit up and take notice of this new team India. Rd with his penchant for reading, knowledge acquisition is the perfect foil for GC. I really dont know if we have anyone waiting in the wings for the captaincy slot who is so much open to new ideas whether thru the written or spoken medium. Maybe the selectors should give this aspect a thought when they start looking for a replacement for rd. VS doesnt seem to be made in this mold.

    By Blogger Gardhabh, at 11:39  

  • And SG in the recent captaincy exhibitions of his is the total antithesis of this style of functioning.

    By Blogger Gardhabh, at 11:40  

  • The test for Rahul Dravid will come only when the team has a more well-settled look. This chopping and changing will stop at some point and the team composition will stabilize. Once the players are more or less assured of their places in the team complacency can set in. This was the biggest problem in Ganguly's Team India. Dravid may have a voracious appetite for fresh ideas but can he keep his team motivated to keep up fitness levels and the aggression that is so palpable now? Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra had the same fire in their eyes that RP Singh and Sreesanth do now when they started.

    Personally I think Dravid will do well but only time can tell.

    By Blogger hjrsingh, at 12:00  

  • hjrsingh,
    this chopping and turning IMO is going to be the order of the day till GC is around - the whole purpose of the exercise is to continuously have a sizable bench strength - you dont create bench strength one time and put it on the shelf till you need a replacement player - you have to continuosuly refresh everyone's experience and skills.

    By Blogger Gardhabh, at 12:07  

  • The so-called chopping and changing should be part of normal strategy and should not be considered experimental. Why play the same 11 or 12 players match after match, especially in ODIs? Have a stable set of 16 players and choose the 11 plus supersub depending on the conditions and the need to rest players. Occasionally a player may go out or in of this set, based on form and fitness.

    By Blogger natty, at 13:39  

  • --
    And should Ganguly, by some quirk of fate, score another international hundred, the banner will be hastily re-written.

    ummm, not in the case of ODIs. Unless he can change his fielding standards and running between wickets. quite unlikely, IMO.

    By Blogger natty, at 13:49  

  • True to the core.. and it is not in sports alone that people vascilate between building temple to greetting them with slippers overnight. Our memory is very short, and we live of our emotions at that minute and as a result we surrender our thinking process.

    It is no doubt that this series has just been a eye opener..we are onto something here..hopefully we need to stablise, refine or even rethink if the situation demands. Thats what makes a good team, adaptability to the situation, no one shoe fits all.

    It is good that our batsmen had come out good in these placid pitches and our bowlers have had reasonable success. Lets see how we fare in other conditions. It is sad that from now on to the world cup we have only an handfull of "away" series. Would love to play aussies again in aus before the world cup.

    By Blogger Realms, at 14:51  

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