29-Mar-2007

The Fun Never Ends

kmp (a very good friend) writes in, responding to this post.
I knew this was coming, and I knew this particular question will be highlighted. I remember an old post [kmp is referring to this post] mentioning the “process” part in this blog! Having said that, I am still waiting for that courteous reporter to ask another much often used word “experience” to none another than “tough-talking-colonel”!

Did we let the “process” to start to find out whether it is flawed? Whom did we let in thru the “process”? I mean, whom did we let out? When an awfully out-of-form batsman gets dropped, streets were set on fire and so was parliament. He continues his awful form in County, Ranji, Challenger series etc. and comes in advertisement pleading for a chance – and lo, he is into the team coz of “experience” and that’s a cricketing reason (referring the previous post of cricketing and non-cricketing-reasons – moreover that is a damn good “process”. Sure, he did score runs aplenty (contrasting with abysmal standards that this team has set), but how on earth anybody knew that he would. And, this man who is known for those lofted hits (sixes) was clearly unable to execute in his new stint. He kept on giving those catches, but Bermuda and Bangladesh could not hold it, and Murali held it. No, I am not after Saurav ganguly, I am after those groaning rascal Marxists – for setting a “experience-process”. Other than Robin and Munaf, did we have anybody else for whom “Process” could be applied? And, do we need to have “process” for Sachin, Saurav, Dravid, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Zaheer, Harbhajan, Agarkar? How many years they have been playing?
First up, courteous is one thing that journalists need not be - their duty is to ask and tell it like it is. If they sound uncourteous so be it. Chappell will understand - seeing that he himself is not averse to the odd gesture involving a middle finger.

As to Ganguly's comeback and how on earth anyone knew that he would succeed - well, could that be just like how people thought Chappell would succeed knowing fully well that he had failed in his previous coaching role for New South Wales?

Or it could have been an informed guess based on the following:

1. His efforts at improving himself - physical fitness, playing first class cricket regularly, and making a few good scores(thought not consistently)
2. The fact that sending a player to first class cricket to regain form is generally considered a good way to regain form, if nothing else, they come back more hungry for success - like it happened with Hayden who was left in the wilderness till recently
3. Or, maybe they did think experience does play a role, like Buchanan seems to feel :
"We've got a lot of experience in our batting, and we leave it to individual players to assess the conditions," Buchanan said. "They are good at telling each other what to do when they go out there, and they're good at sending information back. This is a new ground, and both sides were not exactly sure how it would play. In the end, it was pretty true but we made just about the most of those conditions that we could."
Mind you, this was not experience taking the place of deserving youth - the said youth had failed miserably playing in the West Indies and South Africa, after having feasted and been hyped up on home pitches. And this just a few months away from the World Cup.

And whatever he did in the World Cup, Ganguly has been one of the more consistent batsmen after his comeback. As for giving catches, I thought he played slowly against Bangladesh - I was not aware that he was lobbing balls to the fielders - don't blame me, none of the newspapers carried that bit!

I don't think it is true that the process was not given a chance. Chappell had been having his way for more than a year. The process was already dead by the time the colonel entered the picture. The team had flopped miserably against WI in the ODIs and by the time SA were lording it over us, Chappell was already putting the players and not the process at the centre of the losses. Here is the team that played the ODI series in the West Indies (May-July 2006):
  • Agarkar
  • Dhoni
  • Dravid
  • Harbhajan
  • Kaif
  • Patel
  • Pathan
  • Powar
  • Raina
  • RP Singh
  • Sehwag
  • Sreesanth
  • Uthappa
  • Venugopal
  • Yuvraj
  • Tendulkar
I've added Tendulkar because he was nursing an injury and would have been selected if that was not the case - and one youngster would have been knocked off the list. Now this is a team which Chappel and his enabler Kiran More had selected keeping in the World Cup in mind. Except for Ganguly and Zaheer the World Cup team is in there in its entirety! That includes the nonprocessable "Sachin, Dravid, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Agarkar".

Seeing that Chappell had planned for these hardened veterans to be in the team for the World Cup, the difficulty in applying the process to them ought to have raised a red flag. An idealised process then should have been given a dose of pragmatism and modified suitably. Else it is the process that is useless and should have been dropped like a brick. And assuming that Ganguly and Zaheer had not come in and two young legs had come in instead, would four processed products have been enough to neutralise the seven heavyweights? Because somehow I think the magnificent seven would have made it into the World Cup squad, no matter who was selecting - the Colonel or More.

Now it comes to light, a tad predictably, that Chappell was not happy with the team composition. It is of a pattern with Chappell - the whining and cribbing with paper and other trails carefully preserved. He says the seniors fought against youth. Only Dravid would have had the say in the matter. So it seems to me Chappell is saying Dravid was against youth (Vengsarkar has confirmed on TV that this was the case at least where Sehwag was concerned). Now, Dravid is a process champion. So he seems to have lost confidence in the process by the time the World Cup tooled along, probably sometime in 2006 itself given that he had stopped invoking its magical powers by then. How can we support the process when one of its two firm proponents in the team has given it up?

He praises Kaarthik - why then has Kaarthik played so few matches under Chappell? And why wasn't he played in any match in the World Cup though part of the team?

He criticises Yuvraj. Here he is claiming Yuvraj is a key player - a month before the World Cup. He rues Raina not being present - but look at that interview again - he has almost given up on Raina for the World Cup.

Why blame others like a spoilt kid?

Of course, all this could just be Chappell positioning himself for an extension as coach post-World Cup.

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