From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.19 :: May. 09, 2009

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CRICKET / ON THE BALL - W.V. RAMAN

The disadvantage of having a foreign coach

It is rather unfortunate that the Knight Riders have persisted with McCullum as captain even though they have Sourav Ganguly in their line-up. He will have more influence with the local players than a McCullum ever can for the simple reason that Ganguly can convey things in a language that all the players can comprehend.

AP

ANIL KUMBLE... transforming the Royal Challengers.

The second edition of the IPL is into the second half and with many upset victories figuring thus far, all the sides would fancy their chances of making it to the semifinals, with the exception of the Knight Riders who have somehow not managed to get off the blocks.

Based on their team strength and in view of their recent victories the Chennai Super Kings appear to be having the edge. But all said and done, the IPL is heading for a cracker jack of a finish.

The results have been mixed because of the teams having to combat different conditions at different venues unlike the unwavering uniformity that the squads would have encountered in India. However, one cannot ignore the fact that the topsy-turvy results have been due to the strange combinations fielded by some teams. The omission of Mark Boucher by the Royal Challengers and three keepers playing in the XI for the Knight Riders are cases in point.

In as much as anything can happen in a T20 format, it still is critical for the teams to get their categorization right. The very fact that Wriddhiman Saha is played as a batsman reflects the ignorance of the team management or alternately the lack of talent in the Knight Riders camp.

The youngster probably is the best keeper in India and to deny him the exposure in a high profile tournament is not helping anyone. It would have been a different matter altogether if he were to be sent higher up in the batting order as that would have enabled the youngster to display his batting prowess. A few good knocks might come in handy for him to stake his claim for higher honours in the future.

The IPL is deemed as the forum for young Indian cricketers to rub shoulders with the best in the business and improve their wares. The rules were formed with this objective wherein every side has to play seven Indian players but with the franchisees opting for foreign coaches who have very little knowledge about the current form or the status of the lesser Indian players it is defeating the mission statement of the tournament. Of course, one cannot really expect the IPL to be the only nursing ground for the future stars of Indian cricket but it can always be a platform for talented youngsters to make an impression.

Obviously, it has been overlooked that a team’s success is largely dependant on the performance of the lesser players in as much as the international stars are expected to be the front-runners. Hence it becomes extremely important for a coach to be able to assess them to the T. This is not possible for a foreign coach as there is no way he gets to see them in the domestic season and the situations under which they perform.

It is alright to pick the numbers from the internet but in order to get a reasonable measure of a cricketer a coach has to see him playing some competitive games. It is not just about seeing someone in the nets and gauging his talent as temperament is also a key factor.

The IPL is a high profile tournament and in order that a cricketer should do well against some quality opposition, his temperament needs to be assessed more acutely than his ability. One of the main reasons that the CSK have a strong side is because their cricket director V. B. Chandrasekar gets to see the younger lot play in the domestic circuit. This helps him assess a player thoroughly. The likes of Goni and Thyagi were unheard of when the CSK picked them last year but they have done fairly well for the team.

It is apparent that the combination of foreign coaches and foreign captains are at a loss when it comes to assessing and slotting the Indian players. This has had a telling impact on the results. The teams that have managed to establish their authority have Indians as captains and even the Royal Challengers have looked a different side after Kumble took over from Pietersen.

It is rather unfortunate that the Knight Riders have persisted with McCullum as captain even though they have Sourav Ganguly in their line-up. He will have more influence with the local players than a McCullum ever can for the simple reason that Ganguly can convey things in a language that all the players can comprehend. Besides, he is not new to building a side and nurturing a bunch of youngsters into an aggressive and performing unit.

Buchanan somehow seems to have ignored Ganguly’s credentials as captain and for more reasons than one the Knight Riders are not looking the part. Rather sad for a side which was looking to do better than it did last year.



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