Daily Archives: 12 June 2007

Team India for Ireland and England :: What are the options?

The team for the Ireland ODIs (against Ireland and South Africa) as well as the teams to England (ODI and Tests) will be chosen today — Tuesday, 12 June 2007.

Test Team for England Tour:

The pre-selection pulse indicates that the 16-member Test team will comprise 3 openers, 5 pacemen, 2 spinners, 5 batsmen and 1 ‘keeper.

The Test them is, therefore, likely to be:

Wasim Jaffer
Dinesh Karthik / Virender Sehwag
Rahul Dravid
S. R. Tendulkar
V. V. S. Laxman / Yuvraj Singh
Saurav Ganguly
M. S. Dhoni
A. Kumble / Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
S. Sreesanth
Munaf Patel / R. P. Singh / V. R. V. Singh

This assumes that Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Sreesanth are fully fit.

Contentious choices:

  • Virender Sehwag: I personally think he needs to do more penance. But I feel he will get the nod. He has shown greater hunger and application in recent times. He has had a good previous outing in England and is familiar with the environs there. The real clincher is that he could slot into the middle order — which is where he started initially — if necessary! He also scores the support of Dravid.

  • V. V. S. Laxman: I personally don’t think he should be on the team. But I think he will go to England for the Tests. If he doesn’t perform in the first game, we could see Sehwag in the middle order!

  • Harbhajan Singh: Again, I think he needs to sit this tour out! However, I do not believe Powar impressed with the chance he was given. We did not also get to have any look at Pawar to make any guesses on his suitability or otherwise.

Dark Horses:
The dark horses in this selection campaign are

  • Irfan Pathan: One never knows what frame of mind he is in these days. I read a report recently saying he was on the mend and had fully sorted out his action-problems after a stint at the MRF Pace Academy. He could slot in for V. R. V. Singh who didn’t really impress me either in Bangladesh or in South Africa. In my view, V. R. V. is best described as a Madan-Lal-type “honest charger in” (in the words of Sanjay Subrahmanyan).
  • S. Badrinath: Instead of V. Sehwag. Again, this is a big risk. It would mean the confirmation of Karthik and Jaffer as the openers. I don’t think the team will take such a major risk on a long and tough tour.
  • Ajit Agarkar: Let’s not forget the century he scored at Lords’ on his last tour. Again, in my view his selection is a big risk. One just doesn’t know which Agarkar turns up on the park on any given day.

Guys that can feel somewhat robbed of an outing on this tour (either through injury or lack-of-form, or both or lack-of-support) would be: Piyush Chawla, Manoj Tiwary, S. Badrinath, Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina, Ajit Agarkar and Ishant Sharma.

ODI Squad for ODIs in Ireland and England:

The ODI squad for ODIs in Ireland (against Ireland and South Africa) and England will also be selected today.

I believe that Tendulkar and Ganguly will return to the ODI fold.

I suspect that the ODI group will also see 16-strong-squad as opposed to the normal strength of 15 members.

G. Gambhir
S. Ganguly / V. Sehwag / K. Karthik
S. Tendulkar
Yuvraj Singh
R. Dravid
D. Mongia / M. Kaif
M. S. Dhoni
R. Powar / Harbhajan Singh
S. Sreesanth
Z. Khan
M. Patel / R. P. Singh

Contentious choices:

  • M. Kaif: This would be a difficult one. The choice of Kaif here is a deliberate one. His past ODI-record in England supports his case. Although he hasn’t done anything notable in the last 6 months or so to warrant selection, I think he will get there.

  • D. Mongia: I am going mainly by his experience in England. Although he did not have a great tour of Bangladesh, I think his presence in the team provides it with balance. He is able to bowl in every match, unlike Yuvraj Singh. Hence his presence.
  • Harbhajan Singh: Singh features in this team too and that too, as a “contentious choice”. Although in this case, I think he will play ‘under study’ to Powar. Although Harbhajan Singh did well in the third Asia XI game against Africa XI, Powar impressed with the chance he was given in Bangladesh in the ODIs. Moreover, we did not get a look at Piyush Chawla in Bangladesh. Hence Harbhajan Singh’s inclusion.

I am assuming that Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel are fit.

Dark Horses:
The dark horses in this selection campaign are

  • Irfan Pathan: Irfan Pathan could come in instead of Munaf Patel or Sreesanth. This could be a bit risky though.
  • R. Uthappa: Could get in instead of Gautam Gambhir. I think he should get in, but the selectors have different views!
  • Ajit Agarkar: Could get in as one of the fast bowlers (at the expense of R. P. Singh perhaps).

Guys that can feel somewhat robbed of an outing on this tour (either through injury or lack-of-form, or both or lack-of-support) would be: Piyush Chawla, Manoj Tiwary, S. Badrinath, Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma.

— Mohan

Indian Cricket loses (Ford) Focus – Who’s to blame?

Continuing with the flavor of the today and keeping Mohan’s systems approach in mind, it is worthwhile undertaking a causal analysis of a failure of this magnitude.

1. Failure of the Board – As has been consistently communicated on this site, the Board with a clear lack of vision and well defined objectives, clear description of organizational structure, roles, responsibilities and accountability framework is most certainly at the root of the problem. It is imperative that they get their act straight. This includes setting meaningful criteria (job descriptions) starting from the President. I do not believe Sharad Pawar has any role to play in the management of a sport.

2. Failure of the Selection Committee – To start with, this was not an appropriate selection committee in the first place — I am not so sure that someone like Sunil Gavaskar should even be on this committee. Secondly, assuming as Mohan says that there were no job ads created or placed, the selection committee should have refused to participate in the process in the first place. On what basis were they even evaluating the candidates? Why is the member of the selection committee even recommending a candidate? Isn’t that a conflict of interest? Again, Mohan has elaborated extensively on this issue. But it is infuriating to realize that for a such a highly paid and prestigious job, a total lack of process and formality was observed.

3. Failure of the Team Management – As Mohan has discussed in his blog, it is not rather unfortunate that there is such dependence on the captain and senior cricketers in the selection of the coach. Having said that and having experienced the previous two cases, the team management, in having pursued that approach, should take some responsibility for this failure. Where was their due diligence? Why, after having influenced the previous two selections, did they not place extra effort in managing those relationships? How credit worthy are their recommendations any more?

Are we observing symptoms of a catastrophic failure? The saving grace for Indian cricket, money, might just burn out — it is paper after all. Would someone soon realize that these are failures that should be addressed rather quickly?

It is easier to digest failures of cricketers, who at least try to give their best on the field (a majority of them at least), may win some and lose some. What we are witnessing is an absolutely disgraceful failure by a bunch of power-mongering, politically motivated, egotistic group of individuals who hold Indian cricket to ransom.

And that is totally unacceptable and intolerable.

– Srikanth

Ford Escape!

I totally agree with the original post on this topic by Srikanth as well as Sampath Kumar’s comment. Once again, I started writing this in the comments section and it got bigger than Ben Hur! So, I am posting here. Do read Srikanth’s post first.

Graham Ford rejected BCCI’s offer and opted to stay on at Kent, where he is Director of Cricket.

In the first comment to Srikanth’s original post, Sampath Kumar suggests that the main reason for the rejection was the short-term that was offered to Ford: 1-year term — extendable to 3 years.

That may be a reason. It could be a lot more than that. Who knows?

The entire selection process was ill-planned and badly executed. I have sat on many a selection committee in my life and I will sit on a few more, hopefully. This sordid tale gives me many a lesson on how not to conduct a search process.

No one knows

  • What the ‘search criteria’ were — I am assuming that there was one!
  • Why there wasn’t a job-advert formally put out. The BCCI must have thought that all they had to do was sack the previous coach and they’d immediately have a queue of a hundred salivating coach-wannabes. Wrong. The world doesn’t work that way! There is a ‘talent-war’ out there. The job has to be right for the right person to be secured.
  • Whose responsibility it was to “head hunt” — it is a sad reflection of the process that players got involved in ‘nominating’ Ford!
  • Whether there were clearly identified roles and responsibilities for each member on the search committee — if indeed one existed.
  • Why Dav Whatmore was informed that he was “not needed” — I am assuming that he was informed! If he was appointable but not the first choice, why would we show him the door prematurely?

Unfortunately, it seems to me that the BCCI has sadly over-rated its own job-offer. Money doesn’t buy everything. It is about time the goons that run the show realised that a lot more matters in a top job than just the money.

  • Visions and goals need to be set at the top. These do not permeate through the organisation if it is not set up there.
  • The terms need to be right.
  • The infrastructure needs to be right.
  • The support system needs to be right.
  • The attitude needs to be right.
  • And perhaps most importantly, there can be only one hand on the wheel that drives the bus (the coaching bus in India has too many hands on the wheel and most of these hands are official or unofficial BCCI staff).
    And much more.

This was a kick-in-the-backside that the BCCI deserved and those that ran the committee should hang their collective heads in shame.

Dileep Premachandran, in a thorough analysis of this mess makes some interesting observations.

First, that Dravid and his teammates have reason to feel dejected, for it was them that suggested Ford’s name. I have no problems with the fact that Dravid suggested Ford. After all, Dravid has to get on with the coach 24/7. One would have thought that Dravid would have ascertained Ford’s availability and interest before suggesting his name. The fact that Ford rejected the offer indicate that it was either (a) the briefness of the tenure or (b) the rabble that he saw at the interview (many hands on the wheel), that scared him away. I am assuming that the ‘cash on offer’ wasn’t a problem.

Sure, he may have been frightened off by the heightened expectations that come with coaching Team India. Again, I am sure, he would have weighed this up before throwing his hat in the ring, especially after an invitation from Rahul Dravid! Sure there may be personal reasons. But surely, he had weighed those up before throwing his hat in the ring, especially after an invitation from Rahul Dravid!

The fact that players nominated/selected the previous two coaches says something in itself. It says to me that the people running cricket in India lack either the passion, the interest, gumption or the vision or the decision-making abilities. Dravid nominated John Wright and Ganguly nominated Greg Chappell.

In his article, Dileep Premachandran suggests that the fact that the last two coaches have been nominated/selected by players is not perhaps a healthy trend. He suggests that “tough love” may not be possible — the nominated coach would be reluctant to ‘cut off the hand that fed’ him.

Wrong. Although this is, no doubt, a cute theory, precedence is against this observation by Dileep. Greg Chappell was ‘nominated’ by Ganguly. Chappell was the one that initiated Ganguly’s ouster from the team.

The fact is that, through an alarming lack of vision, goal and process, the BCCI is back to square-A. It has also landed on its backside with an embarassing thud!

The squad for Ireland and England will be chosen today (12 June 2007) and the team leaves for Ireland a week from now.

So, this is nothing short of a kick in the groin to the BCCI and its continuing ineptitude. And it is about time.

So what are the options?

  • Appoint someone like Sandeep Patil for the Ireland and England tours and carry out a proper search process (retain Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad).
  • Appoint someone like Sandeep Patil for a whole year starting now (retain Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad).
  • Appoint John Embury.
  • Appoint Dav Whatmore.

What an utter and hopeless shambolic shemozzle…

— Mohan