Saturday, June 16, 2007

A 'cricket manager' - Again ?

Between now and 8th of Sepetember, India will play 13 ODIs and 3 Test matches (see schedule). 11 of these are against England and South Africa, both of which fared way better than India at the World Cup.

It will be seven months by the end of September during which Indian cricket team is without a coach but only a 'cricket manager'. I always think of a cricket team's coach as a mentor. Or a Chief Backroom Officer (CBO) if you will, who knows exactly what he is supposed to do, and is not scared to take radical decisions. The CBOs in the modern days draw up the strategy, discipline the players, shape the younger players' careers and help the senior players with their wisdom.

For a moment, think of the Indian team touring England/Ireland as a company whose shares are traded on the BSE. Other than the captain Dravid, the entire leadership team is made up of people who either do not have a clear mandate to do their job or have not been given enough time to make any significant impact. During this time, the CBO of the 'Team India' will be an intern, or a 'temp' employee at best.

Worse, the bowling and fielding coaches (Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh) have played with all the senior players of the team selected for the tour. Though both of these coaches will be able to immensely help the younger players in the team, I don't see them making any difference with playing styles of the senior players. This is like hiring one of the retired regular employees and asking him or her to come back and lead the same bunch of people he/she used to work with. Why would a Sachin Tendulkar or a Sourav Ganguly listen to his former colleague who has been away from the thick of the action for the last 5 years. Even if they do, what would Venky and Singh have to offer to the senior players ?

Both Venky and Robin have been given 1 year contract. That means, to add to the confusion, they will be working with at least 3 different bosses during their tenure - Ravi Shastri during Bangladesh tour, Borde during England/Ireland tour, and hopefully a new coach after that.

Take nothing away from Borde, Venky or Robin Singh. They all are worthy people and would be able to help the players under a strong setup. The point I am trying to make here is that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the leadership team has been put in place. Again, if Indian team to England/Ireland were a company, I wouldn't take chances on its shares.