Of course only Dravid would know the real reason why. But there is nothing stopping us from speculating. So, here are a few theories –
- Captaincy has affected his batting: Statistics will show that his test average did indeed dip (44.51 compared to a career average of 60.12 when he is not captaining the side), but he has looked the same solid wall that we know even when he is captaining the side. Even his test strike rate has been good of late and his ODI average and strike rate have improved as well. Sometimes your batting form cannot be judged by statistics alone…
- The pressures of captaincy were too tough to handle: I don’t buy into this theory. Dravid is a tough character and I don’t think he would have found the pressures of captaincy too tough to handle. Before Tendulkar relinquished the captaincy a few years ago we could clearly see he wasn’t enjoying it – Dravid’s body language displayed no such signs. (For the record, under Dravid’s captaincy India have won 8 out of 25 games – a win ratio that is not too bad for an India team.)
- Dravid wasn’t getting the support of the seniors in the team: I would have believed this statement right after the WC debacle. But since Greg Chappell’s departure and the two test series wins, everything seems good in the dressing room.
So, if it is not all this, then what is it? I actually think that after the World cup debacle, Dravid wanted to quit the captaincy. He must have felt disappointed in the way the grand plans he had laid down with Greg Chappell for Indian cricket had come crumbling down. The media and public reaction would have hurt him even more. The only reason he stayed on was probably because Indian cricket was at cross roads and he didn’t want to desert it as a captain. With the England series win, he probably thought that Indian cricket is now at a much better position and it is time for someone else to take over. It also gives him a chance to concentrate on his batting with two tough series of Pakistan and Australia around the corner. By quitting the captaincy now, he also leaves on a winning note.
This might well be his reason, or maybe it was something else. But since India haven’t groomed anyone else to take over from Dravid, he could have stayed on at least for another year as captain. But once someone has decided that he doesn’t want the job, it is time to move on and pick a new captain.
I like the idea that there should be no ties in the T20 format. But is the bowl out the the best solution. Yesterday for instance as the bowl out was going to begin, I kep commenting about how it would be impossible for bowlers to miss the stumps and that it was a ridiculous idea. But the Pakistanis did miss and India hit. But then I started thinking of some other methods. Now in football for instance we do have the concept of extra time. Extra time is where both teams have an equal opportunity to play the game as they would normally. Bringing this into cricket I think we should have the following format.
1. Both teams get to bat a maximum of 5 overs per side. Afterall 30 minutes of extra time in a soccer game is one third of the total time.
2. There should be a toss to decide who bats or bowls first.
3. Each bowler will get a maximum of 1 over.
4. There will be a power play of 1 over.
5. Rules for victory remain the same as in the regular game.
This way both the batsmen and bowlers get the chance to participate in the tie breaker.
Here is another alternative to the bowl out.
5 different bowlers each bowl one ball. They will be faced by 5 different opposing batsmen.The only chances of scoring are boundaries, sixes, wides and no balls. The team that scoresmost runs wins.
The first instance of a tie in Test cricket was the famous Brisbane match between Australia and the West Indies. It was even released as a film and reading or watching it always gave me the impression that West Indies had won the match. But it was a tie wasn’t it? Why were only Windies celebrating and not the Aussies? Simple, a tie is a victory for the bowling side. It means that they managed to prevent the batting side from winning. Fast forward to the Chepauk tie between India and Australia, the Aussies were jumping with joy as if they had won the World Cup. Yesterday was again a classic case of India feeling just one up because they prevented Pakistan from winning. The nature of the game is such that everytime there is a tie, even though the teams were matched evenly, even though the scores are level, even though nothing can separate the teams at the end of the game, the bowling side celebrates, and emerges as a moral victor!
Yesterday was a classic Indo-Pak encounter with all the thrills and spills and the added drama of a bowl out to decide the winner after the teams were tied.
The Indian innings – The team got off to a disastrous start. I cannot understand the position or inclusion of Gambhir. Ideally Uthappa should open.They should have played one of the all rounders like Joginder Sharma, Rohit Sharma or Yusuf Pathan. But that was not to be. Gambhir and Sehwag failed, Yuvraj played too early and Asif was too good for Karthik. Uthappa played a terrific innings, Dhoni stood calm and Pathan belted a few to get us to 141, a decent score that would ensure that India atleast qualified ahead of Scotland on the runrate. PS: Agarkar normally spends about 2 overs in the batting crease in any form of cricket and I think the T20 suited his style of batting!
The Pakistan innings – They chose not to send Afridi up the order. A clear indication that they did not want to knock India out by scoring the runs in 14.4 overs. Generally Pakistan’s strategy of not sending Afridi up the order is quite baffling. But RP Singh started well, Sreesanth was fast and straight and Agarkar gave away his quota of boundaries. Still Pakistan lost wickets because of some good bowling by Irfan Pathan and a special thanks to Younis Khan who got Kamran Akmal runout especially after narrowly failing to do so the previous over. Harbhajan started a brilliant spell and with the dismissal of Afridi in the 17th over the match was almost sealed. Bajji thinking that the match was won, tossed one up and Arafat sent it out of the ground. This is T20 and there is just no time to think or settle. Bajji who had bowled so flat and into the blockhole relaxed just that bit. 29 from 2 overs and it was still India’s game. But we had Agarkar who was just dishing out length balls to be walloped for boundaries and suddenly the equation had completely shifted. 17 from the Agarkar over and 12 was needed from the last Sreesanth over. 4 balls later the match was over as the scores were tied. But Sreesanth, bowling round the wicket beat Misbah, who had played an excellent innings, Dhoni got the field in for the last ball, Misbah missed a pull shot and got run out to tie the match! A terrific finish to a fascinating contest.
The bowl out – ICC has come out with new bowl out to resolve ties instead of splitting points or going by the older ‘lesser no of wickets lost’ rule. India seemed to have prepared for this because they had 2 bowlers lined up who did not even bowl in the match. While Sehwag, Bajji and Uthappa(!) hit the stumps easily, the Pakistanis missed and the match was ours! A memorable victory and Pakistan still cannot beat us in World Cup match.