05-Apr-2007

Dark Comedy

The debate continues. (WARNING: More futile discussion of Indian cricket ahead!)

I think any discussion of Ganguly, Chappell and the Process is moot at this point in time. The call for revolution has been answered with a civil war. The waters have been muddied with accusations and sources. Even EAS Prasanna whose spin could outfox very good batsmen has given up trying to determine whose fault it is. Chappell has already resigned. Ganguly's name heads the list of the senior group in every report, while it is said that he was let into the management discussions only after the Bangladesh loss, and when it is Tendulkar who actually speaks out about his lovers' quarrel with Chappell. The ex-master-blaster has done a neat retraction - denying that he had ever said that there was a rift between him and the coach - following in the best traditions of politics. Ex-Presidents of the BCCI hint at quite unbelievable things.

But what the heck, what if it is moot, let's have at it! kmp's latest rejoinder (my comments inline):
There are multiple things that I have to answer (or put across my point)

1) Saurav Ganguly’s inclusion into (or exclusion from) the team and how that derailed the process
2) Why I think the “process” was never given a chance
3) Hence the question on that day’s press-conference was indeed “inflammatory”

Saurav Ganguly was dropped from the team because he had an awful form for quite a long time – It was termed just in this forum too and what supposedly was bad was the way they handled the subsequent (taking and dropping for no reasons) actions . I don’t have too many issues with that either
[Me: Thanks!], because in any case he was taken into the team for non cricketing reason (he had met Sharad pawar) and may be he was dropped again for non cricketing reason.

Having asked to prove his mettle in domestic cricket or county cricket, he did not play well in County (where-as Zaheer did well there), he did not play well in Ranji, He did not play well in Challenger series. Then comes the brouhaha in Parliament (Brinda Karat, Gurudas Dasgupta etc) and lo he gets selected on the basis of “experience” (mind you not because of form or fitness). I don’t remember this “experience” theory being invoked for some dropped players (and for that matter, which “experienced” player was *recalled* when we did not do well in our previous series to SA). [Me: If he was brought in because of political reasons, why so late in the day. He was out of the team for more than a year. Why wasn't he brought back earlier? Or maybe we need to investigate how many sponsors he has in WB. After all, the whole team seems to have been selected on that basis.]

Again the point was, dropping a senior (and one having political linkages) player was relentlessly resisted and that was the first (and perhaps the last) obstacle for the process – who knows if he were allowed, he would have cut Sachin to size, but alas the Ganguly saga did not let him implement his process. [Me: That's a bit too much - remember Ganguly came in only 3 months before the WC (
I'd wrongly put the date of his return as August 2006 - a full 5 months earlier than the actual date). The process had run its course for a year, and then just three months before the WC it sprang a leak because Ganguly came in, and Chappell lost his nerve about disciplining Tendulkar? I don't buy it. As for Ganguly's dropping being relentlessly resisted (nice phrase) - well it was completely ineffectual for more than a year wasn't it? What kind of resistance is that?]

And the playing 11 for WC 2007 is almost same as WC 2003 (Oh yeah Munaf has replaced retired Javagal and Robin has replaced Mongia – and BTW Mongia was there in Champions trophy) – and also remember this WC 2003 team had not won a ODI series, even at home (under Ganguly) for 2 years (after WC 2003) till Greg came along and had that 17 successive chases, under Dravid and with youngsters team
[Me: This Cricinfo article analyses the successes - and chalks it up to Indian batsmen thriving on home pitches and floudering outside. Less to do with coaching and more to do with the batsmen? Note that these were only wins while chasing, there were other losses in between - a funny kind of world record! Also note, when Ganguly and Wright took over also there were stirring performances initially, then the usual stuff happened and things petered out, just like with Chappel - but there was no nothing like Process to distract us.]. Sure, they did lose in West Indies (not badly) and in SA (very badly) but that does not mean you get back to all the old players – that’s certainly was not the Greg’s process (however flawed that may be) that’s tough-talking-Colonel’s “experience” theory – coz all the players now have “experience”. [Me: That is the point - that does seem to have been Chappell's process. Because with all the freedom in the world and a pliant Kiran More, Chappell was playing with the same core of 'experienced' players in July 2006, within shouting distance of the World Cup, before the Colonel came in with his 'experience' theory. Even the team the Colonel gave for the August Sri Lanka tour is not much different - see the Indian team for the first ODI! The idea that he was all for youngsters just doesn't hold much water. So, would the team have been different from the WC 2003 team if the Colonel had not come in? Going by the teams doing duty with Chappell's full confidence, one doubts it. Of course, with the allegations of kickbacks for selection and Chappell's own allegations of sponsorship deals affecting selection, one is completely flummoxed and in the dark trying to second-guess the team.]

So, those folks should have asked about the “process” when the team was selected and before it went to WI, like “Hey Greg, how come your process has thrown in the same team as the previous edition, was that the “process” to churn out the same players again and again or was the process was flawed and we gave a go-by?” (coz you could guess the playing 11 anyway). After the debacle, only question they could have asked was to colonel “Hey chief, was it that this team did not have enough *experience* to go to next round?” - Since they asked about the process, after the debacle - it is indeed inflammatory. [Far be it from us to tell the free media how to do its job. But we can say that it is screwing up the job massively. Edit: There seem to be wheels within wheels in the media's treatment of cricket and cricketers as I'd noted here. It seems to be under the impression that hagiography is the style best suited to cricket coverage. Of course, the small knives are out after a loss, but quickly sheathed. A MAJOR clarification all the same: I still don't see how the question is inflammatory - that is the only point I was making in the original post - others were doing a better job of question the process and supporting it and all that and I was not getting into any of that. I would have been happy to let it go if Chappell had at least tried to address the question in the briefest manner - "We'll have to analyse it later" would have kept me happy and sleeping soundly for many days. As to asking the Colonel, he can still get away by saying that selectors are in any case just 'a bunch of jokers'. No one expects anything approaching logic from them. But when you have almost made a religion of "The Process" and have been hailed as the messiah
and mocked a cricketer well-liked by many then you need to feel a tad less prickly. I mean, just compare the reams of newsprint on Chappell and his way and that written about the Colonel.]

-P

PS: This is beside the point – but I am answering coz you have mentioned. I did not mean Saurav was lobbing catches intentionally [Me: I've been misunderstood, I was not implying that], sure it did not get reported either. I watched those matches and observed myself, there were tough chances which Bermuda and Bangla could not convert, and Murali took an exceptionally tough catch. What I meant was, earlier those hits of Saurav would consistently clear the rope, and now somewhere in between circle and boundary. I can only guess, his timing was not good as it used to be – understandable. That also says, he had not regained his form or fitness completely. (And, BTW he was clearly unable to rotate strike and his running between the wickets was awful – again I would put fitness as the problem rather than commitment). All that he had now is “grit” and if you are playing every match (including against Bermuda ) with “grit” that means you have lost form. [Me: I'll let his scores speak after his comeback for him :-)]

kmp adds:
When it was just rumored that supposedly Greg had said that there is “Senior” players group and then he supposedly called they act as “mafia” etc… (mind you they were just leaks and quotes attributed to “sources” , Greg never openly said) – Some people believed it and some did not believe (rightly so). In fact you had questioned along the lines of “apart from Captain which “senior” player could have influenced anyway”. Not sure about the *influence* part, however today’s report of Sachin’s and other unspecified folks reaction clearly shows there indeed exists a “senior group”.

BTW, Greg supposedly did not speak to Sachin for 4 days (in the 7 day Carribbean trip) and Sachin got so depressed that he lost the sight of incoming delivery and got bowled!!!
And that is that. I'll print kmp's next rejoinder (if any) as is with no comments. Time we laid this particular discussion to rest. Indian cricket is already RIP.

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