The unceremonious dethroning of Saurav Ganguly should really have hogged the headlines for many days in a nation which was once ruled by Kings and Princes, and which has had a strong whiff of Royal odor in its air for centuries. Truth be told, it did capture all the sports column headlines for a day but the next day when Rahul Dravid was made the captain of the Indian cricket team, the man who was once ostensibly the most aggressive captain to have led the Indian team, the man who was slammed by many a western media journalist to many an Indian journalist’s delight and the man who led & played cricket with some quirky bashfulness which are characteristics of any successful Indian in any field (if you ask me), was suddenly the most “unhappening man” around. He was virtually pushed out of the newspaper columns and even the domestic games he was playing did not get any coverage thanks to the sudden surge in the fortunes of the Indian cricket team and their unassailable 4-1 lead in the series against Sri Lanka. I have no problems at all with India winning so comfortably in their home turf. The joy and satisfaction I get clicking on the “Scorecard” link on my most frequently visited cricket website and getting to see another hard earned win by Dravid’s men is no less or more than the satisfaction I got on those innumerable occasions when I forced my younger brother to play cricket with me in a familiar turf & smashing the living daylights out of his pitiful cricket playing soul. So what am I whining about?
Greg Chappell…my friends. At this moment, I am not in favor of his superlative coaching attitude – nor his approach. The ouster of Ganguly and his coterie bond within the team has got nothing to do with my dislike for Chappell. Chappell is a respected Cricketer and I think he has done his bit in coaching & cricket governance in his home country, in a very respectable way. But the environment in Indian cricket and BCCI is a little too cold & prickly, for what he is used to. That apart, I think his “Either you are with me or you are screwed” attitude is not going to win him many friends in the long run. I think that is important if you want to take the team a long way. Well, so far he seems to have won a lot of friends in BCCI, selection committee and even the Indian cricket media. The man wants to completely control the team, own the team and wants the captain to nod his head for every single decision he wants to make & the captain differs from. Apparently, during the recent Zimbabwe tour, he walked for the toss with the second-rate Zimbabwe Board team’s captain while Ganguly and Dravid were still busy getting their last minute cricketing skills right in the nets. That demeanor was not only audacious but also meant to send a message to his then worst enemy Saurav and also to anyone who was watching & wants to lead the team – “Don’t really need you – so what if you are the captain of the team?”
I am not really sure if Ganguly deserves a place in the current Indian team or not. But I think he certainly deserved better when it came to telling him a big ‘Sorry’. He has been in the thick of things when it came to not scoring enough runs in the last few series. He had definitely gone back to playing-cricket-through-his-nerves–days, which was not good for him as he seems to possess a very restless mind. But not a single Indian captain in the past took it up to the predominantly white men dominated cricket establishment and looked at them right in their eyes & showed them the Indian attitude. He stood up to their chin and tried to give two words back for every word he received. He showed them why he didn’t care just because it was a rule – he wanted to show them he just didn’t like it because it was a rule made up by you the “whites” to benefit the “you-lots” and it was highly biased. He was able to do all that and command a respect in the team because his team was winning more often than losing. Not even the Jat Hurricane from Haryana could do that in spite of winning the world cup. Kapil Dev always was plain, honest and open about how he felt but the man lacked the suaveness to convey his anger to the western media. Sunil Gavaskar, the most aired spokesperson for Indian cricket, was a white men pleasing boy during his playing days, specially during his captaincy days. That was why he was the gentleman cricketer of his times. Of course, he is doing his bit now by being a little critical of the establishment’s actions that harm the sub-continent cricketers and not the English or the Australian cricketers – but it helps only to an extent.
The point is that the dirty politics of BCCI and the selection committee has yet again caused a ripple in the Indian cricket stream. With things looking good and even great at the moment what with a thumping win over SL in the one day series & with anything and everything that Chappell & Dravid plan out seems to be clicking in all its glory, I am sure Chappell is soon going to be the new Indian cricket idol.
I just want to be the Simon Cowell of this Indian Cricket Idol contest and say
“If you’ve got a big mouth and you’re controversial, you’re going to get attention.”