November 2, 2006

Move Over Captain ...

November 02, 2006 Posted by Vijay No comments
Funny that Greg Chappell has been more in the news than the captain Rahul Dravid. Not that Dravid hasn't done his bit to try and bring Indian cricket to higher standards. Chappell has been like a strict disciplinarian while Dravid more of the low profile type. This has been perceived as a lack of assertiveness in team decisions by Dravid. What this has done is quite the opposite of what captains normally undergo when their teams do not do well. For the first time maybe, the captain is not quite as much under the scanner as the coach is.

While the subcontinental teams, have always had captains as the scapegoats, this time around the coach is bearing the brunt. Over experimentation is the main reason why everyone is blaming on the Indian coach. Quite contrary to earlier times this. This is not to discount the efforts of Dravid as captain, who has been deservedly nominated for the captain of the year award by ICC. Being a low profile captain probably has helped Rahul's cause. The stature of Dravid and the respect the team and India as a whole has for him helps in him not being blamed too much for the team's bad performances. It has always been the case that the captain is blamed for the poor performances of the team, which is totally unfair. The players have to contribute and play as a team. This is so even when all are blaming the coach. There are now reports that Chappell's contract with the BCCI might not extend beyond the World Cup in 2007.

The captain can definitely have a bearing on the game of cricket. Cricket is one of the very few games, where the captain's strategies and moves can decide the fate of the game. When a game such as cricket, which is a religion in a country with a population of over a billion, the pressure becomes too much at times. It becomes imperative that the captain of such a team performs well, and consistently, even through tough times. This is what Tendulkar, and (now) Dravid have done. But even Sachin's captaincy was under scrutiny after disappointing team performances in Australia in 1999-2000 which is when Saurav Ganguly stepped in.

Compared to Dravid and Sachin, Ganguly is less gifted in terms of technique. But he had the batting flair and the passion and aggression on the field which separated him from the other captains. He was able to form a team nucleus which went on to register memorable wins, significantly outside of India too. But he was always criticised even through these successful times for his batting failures and his captaincy whenever India lost. The climax was when he was ousted from the team even when he was captain.

Chappell's beginning catapulted him to the limelight of Indian cricket for what some might say were the wrong reasons. While all the problems with Ganguly and Chappell were going on Dravid was quietly working out how he can make the Indian team a winning unit once again. Chappell was praised for the team's performance when the Indian team was on a winning spree till earlier this year. Even at that time, Dravid was not noticed or given due credit for his captaincy skills. But when the team has had a slump of late, it is Chappell who is feeling the pressure. Dravid has absorbed all the pressure which he so skillfully does on field. Looking at the various controversies Chappell has been involved in, coupled with the lack of team performance, Chappell surely doesn't look like having an extended run as coach with the Indian team.