From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.35 :: NO.04 :: Jan. 26, 2012

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ON THE BALL / W.V. RAMAN COLUMN

Board has a job on hand

Cricket is about what one can do tomorrow (not even today) and as such the time has come for all concerned to sit and chalk out a comprehensive plan for the future. This includes the players, selectors and the administrators as diverse viewpoints should be considered before formulating a route map for the next three to five years.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni must be wishing that he had not set an enviable precedent as captain given that the way the Australian series has panned out. Most of his decisions are attracting criticism and the latest one to send Kohli to the post match press conference has not gone down well either.

Obviously the bruised and battered skipper must have felt that he will not have anything different to say to the press. He is in a situation that David Gower found himself in 1989 when England were losing badly against Australia at home and even the inherent charisma of the elegant left-hander could not save him from the scathing press. It came to a point where he said that the questions and answers will be a repeat of the earlier occasion and hence he would like to be excused for he had a taxi waiting to go out for dinner! That riled up the then administrators no end but the current trend is different in that the press conference is represented by rotation.

To be fair, Dhoni can be excused if he takes shelter under the adage that a captain is only as good as his team. Agreed that he has not performed as a batsman but with neither batting nor bowling showing any sort of consistency, there is nothing that a captain can do to force the issue. Besides, let's not forget that he belongs to a generation that has been brought up on a diet of shorter formats of the game unlike a Sourav Ganguly. This has perhaps contributed in him being a wee bit short of ideas under trying circumstances in Test cricket.

At this point in time, the Indian skipper must be feeling that when it rains it pours as expressing something concerning his future in the game gets criticised in the most severe manner. I wonder if the reactions would have been same had he made the statement while receiving the World Cup at the Wankhede stadium a few months ago. It has been a very disappointing tour on the whole thus far and the reactions are directly proportional to the expectations that everyone had before the commencement of the series. But however, the Australians displayed superior discipline as a bowling unit which exposed the temperament of the Indian batsmen and in some cases the lack of fitness.

I am talking of fitness in the context that a human body takes longer to recover as one gets longer in the tooth regardless of how hard an individual works on his fitness. Beyond a certain stage it becomes tougher to keep up the intensity and focus at the optimum level as it was done day in and day out over the years. This was evident in the approach of the batsmen as they looked to play shots as against playing longer durations which was their stock in trade. Being positive is one method to counter the aggressive Aussies but let's not forget that our legendary batsmen have eschewed some shots in the past and yet piled up big numbers.

The big guns have come under fire after a hat-trick of defeats due to lack of runs against their names but when a series is in progress, all future plans are better discussed at the end of it. That the great players have failed is another matter altogether but some semblance of sensitivity must be exercised before crying foul of guys who have given their all for over a decade and a half. Of course, cricket is about what one can do tomorrow (not even today) and as such the time has come for all concerned to sit and chalk out a comprehensive plan for the future. This includes the players, selectors and the administrators as diverse viewpoints should be considered before formulating a route map for the next three to five years. The trick will not be in planning to succeed when Team India plays at home but to be farsighted in preparing the future generation for the challenges of an away series.

The implementation of the plans do not match the intent more often than not and this is one area that needs to be corrected for nothing succeeds when there is no follow up. Talking of implementation of plans, with three of the selectors due to step down in September, it will not be a bad idea for the BCCI to name the successors for the selectors' jobs right now and make them watch the remaining matches in the domestic season. This will give them a fair idea of the current happenings as also get a measure of the talent available from which they will be required to choose in the future. I for one believe that the selectors have to see the players in action to assess them rather than falling back on the scores and hearsay. The current committee has done more than a reasonable job despite the failures of Team India abroad and it is important that the baton is handed over to a bunch that is in sync with what is happening in domestic cricket.



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