I have not been posting on i3j3cricket becasue I have been travelling around India over the last 2 weeks or so. In these two weeks, India has bombed out of the World Cup in a terribly frustrating manner.
A few quick observations:
The Indian fan laughs and switches off
There is a certain numbness in India that I detect. There is anger too. But I think the predominant feeling is onu of disbelief and shock. And perhaps for the first time, there is humour. In spades. The Indian cricket fan (and perhaps India too) has learned to laugh about the teams’ plight. There is a sudden preponderance of jokes doing the rounds. And that is, in my view, healthy.
Much of India has switched off their TV sets. And this is bad news for advertisers. There are several articles on the future of marketing executives who punted on the World Cup. A friend of mine (name and company withheld for obvious reasons) pumped his executive team to allocate 5 crore ruppes in advertising. He works for a small-to-medium sized enterprise for whom Rs 5 crore would be hard to come by. He decided to place all of that budget in the Super8 matches. That budget is now almost worthless and his career path has a sudden and unexpected dead-end sign on it!
Many fans that I have interacted with have gone down the hack-them, sack-them, do-not-pay-them, drop-them route. Most fans that I have talked to have been surprisingly phlegmatic.
Most see this shocking loss and embarassing exit as a boon for Indian cricket. I think so too. It is time for a reality check. It is time for an overhaul — not of personnel, but of processes. More on that later…
The braying mediocrity
I have watched the Indian media pressure pendulum swing from one ridiculous (chest-pumping) extreme to the other (mud raking) extreme. This provides more fodder to my hypothesis that the fourth estate is indeed the “braying mediocrity of Indian cricket”. While it is not right to place the entire blame for India’s loss on the media, they will take a special place in the document that chronicles the reasons for India’s loss. There are a plethora of media channels and all of them jostle with each other for the next sensational story. And if one does not exist, it is created. There is no dearth of (non-)experts to wheel into a studio. The only qualifications for being a TV (non-)expert, it seems, is that one needs to:
- have played cricket ordinarily,
- speak in a terribly cluttered and unorganised manner.
- have learnt to say a few inept jokes.
- speak in terrible English.
And there are several (non-)experts who qualify on the above measures.
The Messiah and the student?
And it is in the exploitation of the media that my beef with Guru Greg Chappell comes in. In this heightened environment of media frenzy, where each channel is looking to invent (note: invent and create as opposed to investigate and unearth) sensationalism-driven angles, Greg Chappell has been thoroughly and singularly unwise.
He has used the media in much the same way as Prince Charles and the Royal Family did (and still do) in England. They use the media to weave their spins and they blame them when their privacy is disturbed in a sensational manner.
In much the same way Greg Chappell has leaked SMSs and emails to selected channels (when it suits him) and then blamed them for “creating additional pressure” (when it suits him). For this reason, he must go. I have been a staunch supporter of Greg Chappells’ ways. He seemed right. He had a vision. He seemed to have the courage to pursue that vision. He secured support from his masters to prosecute that vision in an unstinting and relentless manner. He did that. However, if a person does not behave with utmost integrity at all times, I personally have no time for him. The Rajan Bala episode has convinced me that he is a person with minimal (or even non-existent) back-bone. Indian cricket should rid itself of his cancer.
Indian cricket looked on Greg Chappell as a Messiah. He was welcomed openly. Yes there were doubters and mud-flingers. However, he was given a nice run and an almost unfettered reign. He had the selection committee on his side. He had the Board on his side. He was the Messiah with a vision.
However, as U. G. Krishnamurthy (the philosopher who passed away recently) said once, the only thing a messiah guarantees is a mess!
And that’s what we find in Indian cricket.
The messiah has to go.
- Not because of the outcome. No. Unexpected outcomes come with the territory.
- Not because of his flawed vision. No. The vision was (and continues to be, in my view, sound).
- Not because of incompetence. No. He is a very competent coach with a strong work ethic and a passion.
The messiah has to go… It is because, in my view, his integrity is seriously in question.
And what about the student, Rahul Dravid?
It warmed my heart to find that, after India’s disappointing journey ended, Rahul Dravid came straight out and said, “I accept personal responsibility for this loss.” Indeed, apart from that, he has not said much else! He copped the blows on the chin. He did not deflect blame. He took it on himself. He has taken the loss like a true leader. He has admitted that the buck stopped with him. He has shown great moral fabric and integrity. Leadership is about owning personal responsibility with panache.
It is said that the true character of a leader is seen in the face of great adversity.
Yes, he is far from a perfect leader. But a leader without a vision and a leader without personal integrity is a waste of space. Dravid has it in spades and constantly demonstrates it too.
Rahul Dravid, take a bow.
Greg Chappell, meanwhile, has deflected blame. He has flung mud on the players and the selectors. He has looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights. He has come across like a man worried more by his record and his pay packet than his personal integrity.
The messiah is himself a mess. And he has to go, in my view.
To finish off, a few jokes that I have heard recently:
Greg Chappell achieves his Vision:
When Greg Chappell was appointed, he said he would ensure that India is in the last four of the World Cup. He has done so. India is either 13, 14, 15 or 16 in the World!
Yuvraj the finisher
Yuvraj Singh was touted by Guru Greg as the best finisher in ODIs in the World. True. He did finish the Indian team!