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

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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-