Thursday, April 5, 2007

Part 2 - Ian and Greg

(Continuation of "Reading between the lines - Ian in defence of Greg" post that adds up the missing pieces in Ian's article. Bold pieces appeared directly on the article, the non-bold font adds the missing links.)

7/ For example, in Sachin Tendulkar's recent comments he said: "No coach had mentioned even in passing that my attitude was not correct."

As a cricketer Greg was always trying to better himself, especially his mental approach to the game. Improvement doesn't come without constantly challenging yourself and also responding to the demands of your team-mates, something that happened regularly in the Australian team. Having seen Tendulkar struggle in recent times Greg would accept it as part of his job to challenge the him to resurrect his batting in order to help India win matches.

You need different approaches to face a Koala and a Royal Bengal Tiger. You don't need a mosquito net if you live near Sydney Harbor, but would certainly need one in most parts of Kanpur. I understand what works in Australia may not work in India. OK, both our countries drive on the wrong side of the road, but that, and the 220v voltage in residential lines - are probably the only similarities you can find between the two. I understand the words or action that could challenge Ricky Ponting to come out of his shell and win back the ashes, could only frustrate and corner son of one Ramesh Tendulkar from Shivaji Park. This gentleman Mukul Kesavan rightly points out that - "it's odd that Indian journalists and commentators should find the stereotype of the straight-talking Australian and the truth-denying Indian easier to credit than the chorus of allegations that Chappell's preferred mode for communicating with the media was the modern equivalent of harem whispers".

I am so thankful India does not have it's share of Tupacs. Otherwise there could be a song on my brother sounding like "Shut up and let go. You hormonal biatch".

8/ That is not questioning a player's attitude, that is called striving for improvement.

Or, you can call it "break the bastard completely". It's also called"reverse psychology" and goes like this -

(a) Make a list of players you don't like as soon as you take control of the team.
(b) Wait till they are temporarily out of form.
(c) When they come to you seeking strength and encouragement in a Cricket crazy nation that has zero tolerance for failures, just break their nerve by pretending you are the only one in the world who is delivering the "harsh truth". Tell them they're done and over and should retire right now.
(d) When the player walks away confused, send middle-school girl types hushy-mushy SMS or email to some eager middle-aged journalists who will always pick out the lowest hanging fruits. Leak, leak and leak every little diaper details to the media. This breaks the player even more.

9/ Greg was one of the best half a dozen all-round fieldsmen I've seen; he's up there with Neil Harvey, Viv Richards, Mark Waugh, Mohammad Azharuddin and Ricky Ponting and it would have grated that many of India's best batsmen were slouches in the field.

I don't like giving statistics to establish a fact. We Australians really hate statistics when it does not serve us right. For example, we got miffed recently hearing South Africa, not us, are the topmost cricketing nation! But if I had to share some statistics on brother Greg's fielding -

ODI - 23 catches in 74 matches. 31.08%

Let's look at one player my brother really hated for his awful fielding - Sourav Ganguly -

ODI - 98 catches in 289 matches. 33.91%.

One of those 98 catches looked like this. Let's not even go to Sachin's fielding abilities and his strong reliable arms from long. Another player my brother hates (actually, envies) for fielding once caught this impossible one!

10/ To see senior players just going through the motions in the field would have been enough to send Greg off on a search for young players who could field. However, they would also have needed to be good at another skill and hence his early push to get younger, more athletic cricketers into the team.

After writing this I kept thinking if getting younger, more athletic cricketers is the panacea why my own country has a 37 year old as the main strike bowler? Why the main performing batsman in the world cup in my team is older than any of Sachin, Rahul, and of course, Yuvaraj! Why except South Africa, all other teams in Super 6 relies on someone over 32 to sail them over? Why Murali (35) and Jayasuriya (37) for Sri Lanka; Brian Lara (38) for West Indies; Kallis (32) and Shaun Pollock (34) have not listened to my brother's advice and started looking for another job? Why the performance of 30 plus players in this world cup beats the younger players' performance (exception - G Smith) by such huge margin? We have to talk it over between us brothers. I myself admitted Lara and Sachin are batsmen of same caliber; I never claimed Lara is so much more agile a fielder than Sachin -- then why did I advise (unasked, like us Chappells do) Sachin to look into a mirror and ask certain retirement questions?

What if someday people demand that they want younger commentators -and not some old farts who have never even played 20-20s - and then 60 year olds like us have no future in this lucrative part of the business? Would that be a harsh truth, an inconvenient message or some baseless conspiracy to promote certain men as commentators?

11/ The fact that his tenure as Indian coach was less than satisfactory for both Greg and the team is probably a good indication that the system producing young cricketers needs more than just a bit of fine tuning. The day before he resigned, a "Kerry Packer"-style proposal was put forward for Indian cricket, which suggests Greg isn't the only one who thinks the system needs a large overhaul.

I wrote this article in supporting my brother. So I had skipped two very inconvenient truths.

(a) Greg's failure as coach with India is nothing new for him or not just specific to India because of "certain Indian reasons". After his retirement, Greg coached South Australia team for five years with a very pedestrian record just like he had with India's. Guess what? He was not popular among players in South Australia team either (search for "Chappell draws criticism in Australia")

(b) If the system producing young cricketers needs "more than just a bit of fine tuning" -- why did not my brother mention it during his famous job-winning presentation "Chappellway" - the fast-track to World Cup 2007 ? Why the "Vision 2007" was all about how Greg will fine-tune Sehwag and win us the cup?

One thing I must say about our family though. We sometimes acknowledge our mistakes. Even though it took more than twenty years from the infamous underarm incident, Greg almost offered a half of an apology.
"If I had my time again, I wouldn't do it,"I am not saying Greg will, or shall, but it's just that we may have to wait a long, long time for a Chappell to admit a mistake.

We live on hope. Maybe someday he will accept- not just through a SMS or email reeking of rotten flesh -that he should just have kept quiet, should have given a little more time in the nets, encouraged the players and not made them feel insecure.
That he just failed to enact, with team India, what he said coaching is all about - "We're not talking about rocket science - it's a simple game and I want to keep things simple."

1 comment:

Dipta Chaudhuri said...

Comprehensive and better researched than most of cricinfo!