Tag Archives: Greg Chappell

Teams for NZ Tour

The Indian cricket selectors have, I think, done well to pick good/strong teams for Indias’ tour of New Zealand. Some selection highlights for me are:

  • Continuing to invest in Ravindra Jadeja — he gets a gig in the T20 team.
  • Investing in Dhawal Kulkarni.
  • Re-investing in Lakshmipathy Balaji.
  • Continuing to invest in M. Vijay in the Test team.

The teams are

Test squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, M Vijay, Amit Mishra, L Balaji, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik (wk)

ODI squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik (wk)

Twenty20 squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik (wk)

Is there a TN-bias to the selection?

The presence of L. Balaji is seen by many as TN-bias on the part of Kris Srikkanth, the Chief Selector. That would be unfortunate as well as unnecessary, although somewhat understandable. The Test team has provided passage for three TN players in the form of M. Vijay (ahead of possibilities such as Wasim Jaffer, Aakash Chopra, Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa), L. Balaji (ahead of Pankaj Singh, Ashok Dinda, Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar) and Dinesh Karthik (ahead of Parthiv Patel).

However, Vijay did shine in the one Test opportunity he got and must be persevered with, in my view. One can feel sorry for Ajinkya Rahane. He was the 2nd highest scorer in the Ranji season (with an aggregate of 1089 runs @ and avg of 68.06 that included 4 centuries). He has had a stunning domestic season and is, along with Cheteshwar Pujara, one to watch for the future.

Dinesh Karthik has had a stunning year with the bat and has pipped Parthiv Patel at the post. The Gujarat ‘keeper has done nothing wrong and must just continue to put in the hard-yards in the domestic circuit. Dinesh Karthik has done everything right. He was the 10th highest scorer in the Ranjis with an aggregate of 634 (3 centuries) and an average of 63.4 runs. Having said that, Parthiv Patel wasn’t really too far behind (with 526 runs in aggregate, @ 47.81, including 1 century). But when the cards fell, Dinesh Karthik just had the right number on his side. He was also the highest scorer in the Duleep Trophy with two centuries in three Duleep Trophy games for South Zone. The fact that Karthik had opened well in England may have also counted in his favour. Both Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel are very young. Karthik is only 23. Both of them will have hurt badly from the experience in Sri Lanka. Karthik played badly in the first two Test matches. He batted poorly and his ‘keeping also fell apart. However, Parthiv Patel, who played in the 3rd Test fared worse! So, both of them needed a strong domestic season, lest upstarts like Wriddhiman Saha usurp their position. Both of them did put in a good showing. However, when the cards fell, Karthik had the numbers.

L. Balaji has been, in my view, somewhat lucky. Yes, he was the 4th highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Season and also had a good Duleep Trophy outing. Given that the highest wicket-taker was already rewarded with a ticket to New Zealand (Kulkarni) and given that 2 and 3 on the pecking order were spinners (Ravindra Jadeja and the now-banned Mohnish Parmar!), his ticket could have been seen as reward for a good showing. My own view is that he need not have been rushed into the Test arena. Its just been a year since his comeback from injury. His first major step on the big stage was the IPL. Since then, he has, no doubt, been bowling well. But to get him straight back into the Test side may have been a bit too much.

But then, these are the rewards of a good showing in the domestic circuit. The current selectors seem to be rewarding strong domestic showing quite consistently — set in the context of long-term team-development — and for that, they do deserve some credit.

Bits-and-pieces players:

I have been saying for sometime now that players like Abhiskek Nayar, Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja are the future of India’s ODI and T20 mix. It is good that these guys are getting a clutch of games at the highest level to prove their mettle. The press in India tags them with the moniker “bits and pieces players”. This is erroneous. It is also a disrespect to the quality that these guys bring to the table in the T20 and ODI arena. They are not “bits and pieces players”. They are clever players who bat and bowl well! I’d like to see opportunities given to players like Abhishek Nayar and Rajat Bhatia in the near future too.

Experimentation

M. S. Dhoni has shown the way in handling players like Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina in recent ODI games. In the final ODI against Sri Lanka, I felt he took it a wee-bit too far by bowling as many as 9 bowlers in the game! That’s a bit much. But you need those kinds of options in the middle overs. Even though the pitches may not turn much in New Zealand, I think the middle-overs bowled by Virender Sehwag, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma will be quite crucial.

From that point of view, it is good to see the selectors invest strongly in Jadeja. Yes, he is not part of the ODI Team. After the two T20 games at the start of the series, Jadeja makes way for Sachin Tendulkar. That is fair enough!

I think the selectors will only drop Tendulkar from the ODI scene when he himself says that he has had enough! I suspect he won’t say that until after the next World Cup. He seems to want that silverware in his cabinet more than anything else! Given that he has served Indian cricket in the manner that he has, one could afford him that luxury, I think!

What we have seen in recent T20 games and ODIs is that Dhoni is really his own man when it comes to executing batting plans, setting the batting order and exploring bowling options. In a recent interview, he said that this was because he wanted each player to experience different roles in order to have an appreciation for what a #3 needs to do and what a #6 needs to do in different match situations.

In a perverse manner, this is exactly what Guru Greg Chappell tried to instil in the team when he was at the helm! The difference was that Guru Greg, instead of just doing it, wanted to preach his ideology, convert everyone to his way of thinking, convince everyone that he was right and then hail him as a messiah and a saviour! He started the “process is more important than the outcome” mantra. He was subsequently lambasted and lampooned in the media for “experimenting” too much! The word “experimentation” was taboo during his reign. Guru Greg choked on his own mantra and was caught in the headlights, with nowhere to go.

Instead of aspiring to be a messiah and a saviour, Dhoni just does it and lets others write about his method! The outcome is a more flexible Team India! Ironically, Guru Greg’s method survives after he has been buried!

Possible Teams:

The T20 and ODI teams select themselves:
Possible Twenty20 squad: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar
Subs: Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma

I’d take Praveen Kumar ahead of Ishant Sharma and would take Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Rohit Sharma. But these are possibly the only two debatable spots in my view. There are questions being asked about Pragyan Ojha’s selection in the T20 and ODI teams, given that pitches are unlikely to offer too much spin in New Zealand. However, from a team-development point of view, I think this is a good move. Ojha did bowl really well in recent ODIs. He should be part of the team mix and should get a gig, in my view.

Possible ODI squad: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar.
Subs: Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma,

I’d take Praveen Kumar ahead of Irfan Pathan. And I’d take Raina ahead of Rohit Sharma. Who knows? With a lot of cricket around the corner, should India go ahead in the series — as it did in Sri Lanka — it would be an opportunity to play Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan and Dinesh Karthik instead of (respectively) Harbhajan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and M. S. Dhoni.

Possible Test squad: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel
Subs: M Vijay, Amit Mishra, L Balaji, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik (wk)

The Test team is the one that selects itself most emphatically. There can’t be too many doubts or questions in the composition of this team. It is unlikely that the team will go with more than 4 main bowlers (with Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Tendulkar as other possible bowlers to relieve the strike bowlers). The only question, in my view, is whether Munaf Patel gets the gig ahead of Dhawal Kulkarni. I’d go for experience ahead of raw pace for the first Test. Moreover, Munaf Patel does seem to have the ability to swing the ball more in conditions that are likely to be presented in countries like NZ, South Africa and England. So, he might get the nod ahead of Kulkarni. But it may not be a bad idea to give Kulkarni a go in one of the Test matches.

The selectors have continued to invest in Rahul Dravid — as they should — in spite of his poor showing in the Duleep Trophy finals. Having said that, I am not sure they would be as patient with him after yet another poor tour. They have also sent a clear signal to Yuvraj Singh that he is in the mix for a long stint in the Test middle order. This should settle him down and should allow him to cash in on this opportunity.

Overall, this has been a good selection effort by the selectors.

— Mohan

They were busy writing books…

The Harbhajan Singh interview… with Harish Kotian @ Rediff.

This interview is 3 days old. I thought I’d wait for some of our own post-series comments to die down before posting this on our blog. Most of you would have seen it, but for those that haven’t it is certainly worth a read!

Two spicy comments that would have most Team India fans in splits:

“I think [the Australians] were busy writing for their books, while we were busy preparing for the [Border-Gavaskar] series.”

and

I think, actually, [Greg Chappell in their dressing room] inspired us. Seeing [Greg Chappell] in their dressing room fired us. Whatever tactics he knew about our team didn’t work at all. In fact, I think he helped us more than he helped them. I think they came too early and must have gone through a lot under him.

These are right up there with “He hasn’t batted long enough against me, so I don’t know,” which Harbhajan Singh said in December 2007 when he was asked what his advantage was over Ponting!

— Mohan

Guru Greg

ABC TV in Australia is set to screen their “observational documentary” Guru Greg. The program goes to air 8:35pm Thursday, 22 Nov 2007 and should be a compelling watch. Since I will be travelling at that time, I’d hope that one of the other i3j3Cricket contributors will review the program and even perhaps post a link to online scripts or YouTube excerpts of the documentary.

It was reportedly filmed with the co-operation of Greg Chappell, and his wife Judy and according to the ABC program promo “provides a rare insight into one of the world’s wealthiest and most important sporting teams“.

The documentary charts the “reign” of Greg Chappell which commenced with his controversial selection at the start, his immediate impact, and the tragic end.

— Mohan

Team India Dressing room rifts and “politicking”

Recently there has been talk of “politicking” in the Team India dressing room. This has also been drawn out in an extensive debate on this blogsite.

Today, Ravi Shastri, in a candid interview, dismisses any such conjectures and postulations.

He said,

“I thought that was nonsense. I know now that it is absolute nonsense. I don’t know what happens two months down the line. Right now it’s absolute nonsense.”

This is quite a big statement from Ravi Shastri who is, essentially, a journalist/media-commentator these days. So, a bold and incontrovertible statement of this sort is not easy. In the past I have observed that he has always been the sort that has left the door ajar to interpretation when it comes to tricky questions. On some questions, of course, he doesn’t leave much doubt. This statement above clearly leaves no doubt in anyones’ mind. Of course, he has brought himself a futures-option by saying he would not know “what happens two months down the line”. Even so, this is a clear statement (data/evidence) from an honourable man.

I like the way he says in the interview, “That’s dressing room stuff. We have discussed a lot, we have gone one-on-one with each individual.”

Sadly (in my view), Greg Chappell did not quite believe in “dressing room stuff” and let many a cat out of the bag to (perhaps) suit his own needs. There are times when one can be loose-mouthed (or trigger-fingered in these days of instant-messages and emails) and there are times when it is right to play your cards close to your chest.

It is a pity that Ravi Shastri is not available for a longer gig.

— Mohan

News in brief: 26 April 2007

It is a repeat of 1996 as Australia pulverise South Africa to meet Sri Lanka in the finals. The South Africans admitted that they were outclassed by the Aussies.

Osman Samiuddin examines the coaching question faced by most teams following their World Cup campaigns. Talking of coaches, Venkatesh Prasad, India’s bowling coach for the Bangladesh tour is excited about the prospect of his debut tour as a coach for the national side. Generally, we have observed that successful coaches including Whatmore, Buchannan and Moody had modest records as players. The corollary appears true too if you consider Chappell, Richards and Miandad. Based on this trend, we can expect a reasonable outcome from Prasad’s tenure for his record is neither ordinary nor extraordinary like his bowling skills.

According to PTI reports, Tom Moody is unlikely to be India’s coach

If reports are to be believed, Inzamam may be dropped from Test squad for Pakistan’s home series against South Africa. If it happens, nobody including Inzamam will be surprised or shocked.

‘Tendulkar playing for wrong reasons’ says Ian ‘calling-spade-a-spade’ Chappell without clearly specifying what those reasons are. By contrast, Viv Richards has come to Tendulkar’s supportearlier this week

– Vish

What ails the ‘seniors’?

Mahesh Krishnan has recently posted on players who are likely to make the cut in future.

While we need to groom these youngsters, we need tactical short term solutions to take on the coming season. For this, we will still need the seniors to do the job.

I am looking at the current lot of players to see what is holding them back

Sachin Tendulkar:
Some people self-limit themselves. They do not achieve a fraction of what they are capable of because they are afraid to try; and because they are afraid they will fail.

To me, [the new] Sachin falls in this category. I think what he needs to do is decisive action. In crunch situations the fear of failure immobilizes him. In my opinion to overcome this fear, he must act, and act boldly. Sachin is best when playing aggressive cricket and worst when playing passive cricket. Years ago we touted Sehwag as the new Sachin, now Sachin has to turn into the new Sehwag.

Bottom line – He needs help before time runs out, big time.

Virender Sehwag:
To steal a quote, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”

I think in Sehwag’s case whatever he has done over the last two seasons has’nt worked at all. To me it is obvious that teams have worked out his weaknesses and strengths. He needs to re-think his role as a opener and try the lower middle order.

Perhaps he should take a break from the game, then play State / county cricket and score tons of runs in the middle order to gain the confidence back. He should look to getting a county contract for a couple of months since the domestic season is over. I would’nt mind him missing the English tour if this helps him in the long run.

Rahul Dravid:
Rahul Dravid makes a better public relations officer than a captain. He has grown up with Sachin, Laxman and Ganguly and has a good mateship going with them for years. But when he dons the captaincy cap he seems to be worried about the possible rifts that can come about by being open with players.

A leader needs to be forthright and assertive. Dravid seems to pussy foot around issues with statements like “Sachin knows whats best for him”. The fact is, he should have spoken to the seniors about their role that he as a captain wants them to play. As much as I admire Rahul Dravid for his batting prowess, in my book as a captain he has been a found wanting. I have a feeling the reason Dravid allied with Greg Chappell was for the qualities he himself lacked – ‘Calling a spade a spade’.

Unless Dravid has learnt from his mistakes and acts fast, we will need a new captain in a year’s time.

-Vish

News in brief: Saturday 7 April 2007

-Mahesh-

What is the BCCI going to do?

By this time tomorrow, Greg Chappell would have handed over his report to BCCI and would have tabled all his thoughts on the current team and the reason for the World cup debacle. If the media is to be believed, this is what he would have written in his report-

  • Seniors in the team form a coterie (or “mafia” if you please). This coterie has a strong influence on the captain, Rahul Dravid
  • The seniors (Tendulkar, Ganguly, Sehwag, Kumble, Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Agarkar) do not let youngsters flourish
  • They lack commitment and generally do not do what they are instructed to do.
  • They put personal interest over teams interest.
  • The coterie persuaded Rahul Dravid to choose batting if India won the toss against Bangladesh (against the coach’s advice). This is just one of several instances where the coach’s advice was ignored.

Raj Singh Dungarpur has also said that the manager Sanjay Jagdale’s report will be completely unbiased and the board will give more importance to it.

I have three questions –

  • What is BCCI going to do with these reports?
  • If the reports say that the players have attitude problems, what are they going to do about it? (Drop, discipline, or do nothing)
  • Is BCCI going to make these reports public?

Guess we’ll find out soon.

-Mahesh-

Why Greg quit

After all the speculation of what was going to happen with the Indian coach’s job, Greg bowled a googly by deciding to quit. My initial reaction was that of surprise, but then it all made sense.

Player/Coach rift

The player/coach rift is now in the open. Even if his tenure was extended, he does not command the respect he once did. If he needs the respect of his players, he would have to get rid of all the seniors who he has problems with.

Getting rid of all the players will not be easy. He was able to get rid of Ganguly once, but then Ganguly was in the wrong. He cannot expect a similar result this time around. He will find himself in a position where he cannot get the players fired up, nor get them fired.

If he somehow does manage to get all senior players fired, finding enough players to fill those shoes will not be easy. And to get all these new players to perform and start winning with in the next two years is going to be even more difficult. He knows there are two very tough tours coming up – England in England and Australia in Australia. Taking a completely new team of youngsters to Australia in December would be like taking lambs to the slaughter house.

It is a completely no win situation for him and the player/coach rift is to blame. If you do not have the confidence of the players, you just cannot be their coach, no matter how good you are.

Better to quit than be sacked

From Greg Chappell’s point of view, he needs a smooth exit to save face. For starters, his tenure with the BCCI has officially ended with the WC. The question really is whether they will extend his contract or not. For BCCI to say that his contract will not be extended will reflect badly on Greg Chappell. By saying that he has decided not to extend the contract will seem like leaving on his own terms.

If Greg had not quit, it is very very likely that the contract would not be extended. Here are the reasons, why –

  • World cup results were not favorable
  • Public opinion against him is now very strong. Greg probably did not expect the SMS leak to have had such an adverse effect on his image, but it has. 
  • Members of the committee to study the debacle have already expressed opinion against Greg Chappell’s methods. Greg Chappell knows that this bias is not good for his chances of contract renewal.
  • Sachin Tendulkar has spoken. No matter what public opinion is on his retirement or his performance in the World cup, when Sachin speaks India listens.  Now everyone know about the player/coach rift. BCCI knows that it is probably better to replace one man than the whole team.

Freedom of speech

Now that he has decided to quit, Greg Chappell does not have to hold anything back when he addresses BCCI on April 6. He can point his fingers on anyone and everyone. It will be easier to shift blame and once he is finished with the report to the board, he can speak freely to the media as well – the board cannot put a gag order on him anymore.

I am sure Chappell is already thinking about writing a book.

-Mahesh-

Attributes of a coach

As Greg Chappell proved, Shane Warne is not the only Australian to trigger controversy via an SMS 🙂  This blogsite has been an ardent supporter of Greg Chappell until the SMS issue surfaced. Since then, a lot of us feel that he has lost the trust of the players and should go. This brings about a bigger question as to what the attributes of a coach are. I’ve tried to articulate what I think are the attributes of a good coach –

Coach should have a clear vision and target

A coach should be able to create a strong vision. He should be able to set clear goals for the team and individual players. For instance, a team goal could be as simple as getting India to the finals of the World cup or beating Australia in Australia. An individual player’s goal could be to get say Yuvraj into the test team. The vision could involve more around establishing the replacements for senior players as they retire. This would involve working closely with BCCI and the selectors to ensure that this vision can be carried through.

The coach should also be flexible. For instance, if your concept of using Pathan as an all rounder batting at No. 3. doesn’t work, you should be flexible enough to try something else. The coach should have the ability to improvise and innovate. In the 1992 WC, New Zealand opened the bowling with a spin bowler and opened the batting with a pinch hitter. Now, that is innovation.

The modern coach has to have the ability to think outside the box. He shouldn’t be afraid to rock the boat if that is what it takes to get it to an even keel.

Experience  and Knowledge

Knowledge of the game is very important. You don’t need to be a great player to be a great coach. It has been proved that some of the best coaches in the game have not necessarily been the best players. John Madden, the celebrated NFL coach never played a single game of professional football; Sven-Göran Eriksson was not a great soccer player and John Buchanan had not played more than 7 first class matches. But what all these people have in common is an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the game. They all have this ability to observe and absorb. Recognize, Analyze and Strategize. And these things come with experience. They did not become a top coach overnight, but spent years in the sidelines before they moved into coaching a top team.

A cricket coach not only needs to instill basic cricketing skills such as bowling, batting, fielding and running between the wickets, he needs to figure out what is wrong with a player when things don’t work out and what shouldn’t be changed when the going is good.

The coach needs to recognize  the team’s strengths and weaknesses and work on them, just as he works on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Modern cricket coaching has also involved the use of technology to capture ball by ball data and digital video to study these attributes and the coach shouldn’t shun away from them.

No matter how good a coach is, sometimes they do need assistance and they have to acknowledge and act on it. You may need a specialist coach to help in a certain aspect of the game and the coach shouldn’t let ego get in the way of seeking good help. In NFL, you have a head coach, and several assistant coaches – you have a defensive coach, an offensive coach and a special teams coach. Even the quarterback and wide receiver have their own special coaches.

Cricket can take the cue from NFL and have separate coaches for batting, bowling and fielding. Even with bowling, fast and spin bowling are completely different and may need different coaching techniques. But it is up to the head coach to decide if he needs help and act on it. John Buchanan had the insight to hire Mike Young (who was a former baseball coach in the US) to coach the Aussies in fielding and throwing techniques.  These are the kind of moves that help in the over all improvement of the team.

Excellent communication skills

The coach needs to communicate with his players effectively. This not only means how to articulate what he expects of his players and explain what they need to do, but to also listen to them and act as their counsel. This is an area where a foreign coach may have problems with Indian players in general. For starters, the language is a problem. Although all Indian players may converse well in English, they are more comfortable in an Indian language (Hindi). And the cultural difference between people from the sub-continent and Western coaches is substantial. Bob Woolmer struggled with this and John Wright had to work around it. I am not sure whether Greg Chappell was ever able to overcome this.

Good communication with the player alone is not enough. The coach also needs to establish a good communication and rapport with both BCCI and the media. More than anyone else, the coach should know what kind of information shouldn’t leave the dressing room. A coach’s unhappiness over the selection and his personal opinion of some players is certainly not one that should leave the confines of the dressing room.  

Enjoy the confidence of his players

The players need to recognize that the coach is working for the greater good of the team and the advice he gives is for the improvement of the individual player. This recognition comes with trust. And trust is gained by winning games and getting the right results. If the team isn’t winning, then the coach needs to instill team spirit and self belief so that they can start winning. Trust creates a sense of community and makes it easier for people to work together.

It takes a lot more to gain someone’s trust than to loose it. If Greg Chappell had expressed his opinion to the players directly behind closed doors, he would have still had the trust of his players, but by taking it directly into the media, he has made the coach-player relationship very fragile.

-Mahesh-