Vish Krishnan has already talked about mental strength as the first anchor points. This is an excellent starting point towards the formation of a strategic roadmap for Indian cricket.
Everyone has a view. Vish Krishnan has. I do too. The Indian cricket fan on the street has a view. These range from a “kick them all out” to a more phlegmatic “take the pains with the gains” approach.
Price Waterhouse Coopers, India too have a view. They came out with a plan to augment self-belief in the team.
Narayana Murthy (Infosys guru and noted visionary) came out with a statement on “sticking to process and not giving up“. He seemed to echo the words of the legendary Australian Rugby wizard John Eales: “Courage even under intense pressure and sticking to the game plan” was his mantra. Narayana Murthy felt that the Indian team management gave up on their “process thinking” and started to concentrate far too much on immediate outcomes when under intense pressure.
A few others commented on this blogsite on a few other aspects including fitness and so on.
Here is (what I think is) a fuller list of things that Indian cricket needs to concentrate on to bounce back (this includes the three dot points in Vish Krishnan’s earlier posting):
- Improve Mental strength at all levels
- Skills improvement
- Better Player management
- Develop fast Pitches for local competition
- Implement a Player Endorsement Management Program
- Improve Fitness levels
- Revamp the domestic competition
- Improve Fielding: When will Indian cricket learn that this is important
- Have a vision and stick to it.
- Better management of Indian media.
- Improve situational awareness capabilities of all players.
All of these require much more indepth analysis and elaboration. Let us construct this list and then develop these further. Please comment on other headline items. We will then address each of the above in turn.
Player Endorsement Management
A quick word of clarification on “Player Endorsement Management”. At the moment, poster-boys like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni and Pathan are brand ambassadors for a huge plethorta brands each. I have absolutely nothing against players making money out of cricket. As I was saying to a friend of mine over a heated email exchange, I do not begrudge them their earnings. The market decides how much these guys get paid. Not you and me.
There are numerous stories of the litany of players who fall by the wayside in their attempts to get to the top of their profession. I know of several sportspersons from my school who made a choice to strike it out in cricket. A good friend of mine (name withheld for obvious reasons) was an excellent soccer, cricket and field-hockey player. He represented South Indian schools in soccer and cricket! He represented state juniors in cricket, soccer and hockey. He had to make a choice. He chose to focus on cricket. Five years and two injuries later, he was virtually on the road, with a drug addiction to kick off as well. He tried to get to the top. he fell by the wayside. But these players in the Indian team persevered despite the trials and tribulations and despite the politics-riddled system that they had to either fight against or work with. They fought the odds to get to the top. And they stuck to their self-belief to reach the top.
Good luck to them for what they get paid. I can’t begrudge them their right to get paid whatever just as I can’t begrudge the CEO of a top company getting what he gets paid. He is worth what the market says he is worth.
If Kelly Slater gets paid hell of a lot to ply his surfing trade, good luck to him. If Lance Armstrong gets paid a heck of a lot to ply his cycling trade, good luck to him. If Roger Federer gets paid what he does to ply his tennis trade, good luck to him. Similarly Tendulkar, Dravid or Ganguly… These are the fruits of individual life choices. We should not begrudge what people get paid.
We each made a choices to be what we wanted to be knowing full well that we would get paid (or not) in comparison to an insurance salesman, a retail executive, an IT professional or a cricketer or a soccer player. There — right there — we lost my right to whinge. At least, that is what I think!
All I can then ask for then is that there are checks and balances in the cricketing system.
- There are no jobs for life.
- There is a performance-based system in place.
- The players give off their best.
That’s about it.
Yes, they played badly against Bangladesh. They probably played worse against Sri Lanka. But there are a multitude of reasons for these terrible losses. And we need to get to the bottom of these.
I agree that Indian fans would be disappointed. But asking for Dravid’s head on the guillotine (figuritively or really) or sacking 15 players from the team or some such drastic measure is not right. Just as constructing a temple when the team wins is not right. It is a game. We have to learn to accept the spills with the thrills…
But there have to be chacks and balances. And one is desperately needed in the area of player endorsement management, in my view.
No sponsor is going to make a cricketer their brand ambassador without exacting their pound of flesh in terms of player-time-commitment. The more time players spend with sponsors, the less time they have to polish their own games. And this is where the BCCI must step in. As the “employer” of the players, they would be well within their rights too impose a simple rule that states that no contracted player can enter into more than 10 (say) sponsorship deals. This could well sort out this issue of player-time-commitments, in my view. This rule could also be expressed in terms of total-lapse-time-contributed-to-sponsors. This will ensure that players do not over-sell themselves and their time. They would be able to exact more money (perhaps) from each of the sponsors and will also have time to spend on their own games.
But we are perhaps getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let us agree on the main heads and we can then start expanding on each of these to develop a roadmap.
One issue is non-negotiable in my view: A strategic vision and a roadmap is urgently required. This inglorious and embarassing bombing-out has highlighted the necessity. In that sense, it is a blessing in disguise.
Like much of India (in my view) there was more spin and less substance to the cricket team. This inadequacy was exposed rudely. Like the rest of India will get a rude shock (my prediction) in the near future, the Indian cricket team has received this rude shock. It is opportune. Rather than wallow in depression, it is time to sit up and use this as a positive opportunity to chart a cogent progress pathway.