From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.03 :: Jan. 17, 2009

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ON THE BALL / W.V. RAMAN COLUMN

The ECB did the right thing

The long and short of it was that Pietersen was found wanting in terms of strategy and once things went wrong, he started looking for venues to deflect the criticism in order to escape the none too pleasant task of carrying the can.

The aftermath of the India-England series has been one of bitter squabble between KP, Moores and the ECB and the situation is as calm as the tornadoes that are rampant in the Florida Keys.

Over the years, the clichéd statement has been that the game is bigger than any individual and that has been followed without too many issues.

Rare instances of players losing their bearings while riding high on outstanding performances have eventually petered out to nothing as realisation dawned on them that it was just not worth taking things too far.

In recent times, with the game becoming more or less an industry with booming salaries and contracts without forgetting the bonuses for a win, there are some who tend to forget that it is the game that has made them the superstars and tend to indulge in activities that eventually benefit neither the game nor the players.

KP was not too charitable in his statements about Moores and that was triggered by the criticism from the British press after the loss in Chennai. Even if one were to totally agree with KP that Moores lacked the experience of playing international cricket which found him bereft of ideas in tense situations, not even the collective might of the ECB hierarchy could have stopped the English skipper from adopting his own strategy on the field.

The long and short of it was that KP was found wanting in terms of conceptualising a strategy and once things went wrong, he started looking for venues to deflect the criticism in order to escape the none too pleasant task of carrying the can. Being a top-notch batsman does not give one the licence to mess around and denounce everyone else who are part of the team management. The England skipper seems an utterly confused man as Graham Ford, the candidate he is plumping to replace Moores, has not played international cricket either.

The ECB did the right thing by not encouraging the England skipper in his bid to hold English cricket to ransom and now that a new captain has been nominated, there still exists major problems as the after-effects of KP-Moores spat will rankle as they reassemble for their next campaign. While there are so many issues that need to be addressed, the ridiculous suggestion in some sections of the media that the bait of the IPL probably caused the rift between KP and the rest is nothing but a whole bale of rubbish.

The enormous success of the IPL and the shift in the power in the cricketing world is causing a lot of sore eyes across the world and some will not hesitate to blame the money power of India or the IPL just for the heck of it. At the end of the day, if the players choose money over the honour of representing their country, then the agency that provides the opportunity to earn megabucks cannot be blamed.

While the English cricket has its woes due to KP’s poor handling of his team on the field and his audacity otherwise, the Indian cricket system has its own set of problems to handle. M. S. Dhoni has been dropped from the East Zone side apparently for being “incommunicado”. This is the feeblest of excuses that a group of selectors could have come up with. Surely they could have applied their minds and issued a more plausible statement. The norm is that a player gets picked and it is up to him to either make himself available or not. The East Zone selectors should have left it to Dhoni by naming him the captain of the side. Then the flamboyant skipper would have not remained “incommunicado” as the onus was on him to let the selectors know one way or the other.

The question that needs to be answered is whether the selectors were miffed at Dhoni for not responding to their messages and hence chose to convey a strong message by not naming him. In the event they wanted to convey such a message, all they had to do was to call Dhoni for the selection meeting with a note that failure to attend the meeting would not be viewed lightly.

The selection committee has reserved the right to pick Dhoni if he chooses to play and in the process insured itself against any future trouble. Raja Venkat is a suave individual and a straight forward guy to boot but once you are a part of strange system which allows three guys to get together and run riot, transparency starts to diminish. I am not in the least connected with East Zone cricket but the Duleep trophy needs to have all the stars playing in it for the game to benefit.

The top stars have had a more than decent break after the England series and they should look to enhance the quality of cricket in the domestic circuit. They will remember that these are tournaments that paved the way for them to reach where they are today, and hence the selection committees should pick all the big guns whether they are “incommunicado” or not. After all, the game is bigger than any single individual even today, isn’t it, KP?



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