Interesting it is that Sourav Ganguly and the Cricket Advisory Committee are not in a hurry to identify the Indian team’s head coach before the Sri Lanka tour. Ganguly said the same support staff which went to West Indies would “probably carry on.”
Before we look at the reason for this procrastination it might be worthwhile to recall one particular incident. Of course there are many such instances in Indian cricket but this one should suffice.
In 1992, erstwhile skipper Mohammed Azharuddin, after a miserable series loss to Australia, lost yet another away series when the Indian team was trounced by South Africa in both Tests and ODI series. This resulted in a massive, relentless clamour, especially from a particular lobby, for the reappointment of Kapil Dev as captain.
This change of guard was almost a done and dusted thing and it looked certain that Azharuddin would be stripped of captaincy. But chairman of the selection committee, GR Vishwanath who knew a thing or two about the stark challenge of playing abroad and at home stated that Azhar would be given another chance, this time at home against England.
This gave Azharuddin just the breather he wanted and, as was to be expected, India trounced England and Kapil Dev’s hopes of leading India again were dashed once and for all.
It is no secret that winning Test matches overseas is twice as difficult. The history of Indian cricket is littered with tales of resounding defeats on foreign soil. Even neighbouring Sri Lanka is a tough cookie in their backyard. Of late most visiting teams, including strong ones like Australia, England and South Africa have had to eat humble pie on Sri Lanka’s shores, particularly in Tests.
Having said that, the question that intrigues is: Why is the CAC now asking for a decision on chief coach to be taken later, probably after the tour to Sri Lanka? Are they expecting the Indian team to lose and thereby leave skipper Virat Kohli in a weakened position from which he cannot make any demands?
The CAC was expected to identify a coach by 10 July and they should have stuck to that. Stating that they had to consult Kohli is gibberish. They had opportunity for this before during the Champions Trophy and could have even consulted him over phone or Skype, if it was needed at all.
In any case Kohli had made his intentions clear for the last two months. Were the CAC so thick in the head that they could not grasp it? Interestingly Ganguly states that the coach chosen “would have to take Indian cricket forward for the next two years, till the 2019 World Cup.”
Did the BCCI and CAC realise this on Monday? The ruckus about the coach has been going on for almost two months now. The Champions Trophy was played under the shadow of head coach controversy. The team was without a head coach during the entire West Indies series. Were the CAC and BCCI not aware of the issue and the need for a long term coach?
There is something putrefying about the way the CAC has conducted this issue last year and again now. The first time around it could have been passed off as a mere happenstance. Now it seems that it is too much of a coincidence.
It is not enough to say that Indian cricket is bigger than anyone. The proof is in putting aside prejudices and acrimony and working for its best interests.
Of course the captain’s wishes are paramount in cricket. But just because those wishes do not coincide with the powers that be, can they work towards changing the captain himself? Yes, they can. But how does that help Indian cricket?
Anyone who has the faintest idea of Indian cricket knows how one particular series had a different captain for each Test; or how a captain was sacked and he did not know about it until the pilot announced it on the PA system; or how there was so much muck raised about a team that the captain said that all the washing of dirty linen in public would enable his team to embark on the tour with clean shirts; or how a captain pulled out of the playing eleven when confronted with a green top at home; or how another captain quit and the chairman of selection committee was not even aware of it!
Make no mistake, what the CAC and BCCI are currently doing is not bad – it is disgraceful. If they cannot stick to deadlines that BCCI itself gave out, it smacks of incompetence. Better to quit and let someone else with better sense and responsibility run the show than continue this farce!