Beer, Chips and Cricket

This is a site about drinking beer, eating chips and thinking cricket. I am not a former player, a television commentaror or a journalist; my qualification to being worthy of hearing is that I drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of chips and think a lot about cricket. The thoughts need not be politically correct and often include colourful language but there will be no deliberate bias towards any player, community or state. I don't care about popular opinion or perceptions and I speak it as I see it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Gangs the captain ... hmmm

The drama over the captaincy issue ends ... for now. The BCCI is bound to create controversy in whatever it does; seems a forgone conclusion.

Everyone talks of Ganguly losing the captaincy only coz of a ban on his playing. Hence by all rights, the captaincy should come back to him once the ban is over. I have heard the argument that keeping Dravid as captain would set a bad precedent as tomorrow if Dravid were indisposed and Sehwag made captain and he manages to win a couple, then the same case would apply for retaining Sehwag as captain even when Dravid is back. This is one argument I have heard on a cricket forum I visit regularly and really, that is what is wrong with the cricket analytics of India. They concentrate not on what is required but who is involved.

Firstly, Dravid became the captain only coz Ganguly was facing a ban. WRONG. Ganguly was facing a ban and hence the issue never came up whether Ganguly should continue captaining the side or not. The issue should have come up coz captaincy is not a short term affair but then this is the BCCI and they choose to cover their asses by ignoring the larger issue of whether Ganguly would have become captain even if there had been no ban. If indeed Ganguly was the undisputed captain, it could have been made clear in very simple terms at the time of choosing Dravid for the SL series. But the selectors and the BCCI r too smart for that. They made Dravid captain without mentioning anything about it being a temporary or permanent assignment. Then they just sat back and looked at the results of the tournament. Dravid didn't do his cause any good by losing three matches to SL. What would have been interesting is if India had won the tournament under Dravid. That would have put the selectors in a bind and I am sorry not to be able to see them squirm. This way Ganguly becomes captain without anything to support his cause except past results ... and by past I am talking two years back. Dravid loses captaincy without anything to support this cause either ... except defeat to SL three times in one tournament. Yep, a bad result but something on which the captaincy of a side is decided??? Wierd, man!!!

Anyway, the BCCI has appointed Ganguly only for the Zimbabwe tournament and that shows that all is not smooth sailing for the Bengal Tiger. Lucky for him the opponents would be Zimbabwe in tests and Zim and NZ in a ODI series. India shouls roll over Zimbabwe without any problems at all and while NZ would be tricky, I think India has the firepower to go past them. What will now take centerstage is Ganguly's own performance. He has held onto his captaincy by the skin of his teeth and he will know that he needs to produce results with the bat in order to hang onto it.

I was a bit surprised at the attitude of Greg Chappell towards the whole matter. The guy simply wasn't part of the process for selecting the captain ... I don't remember if John Wright was ever part of the process that selected / retained Ganguly as captain but his totally washing his hands off the affair was strange. In one way, it defuses controversy ... also since he has experienced Dravid as captain and NOT experienced Ganguly as captain, probably he might not be the best person to say which guy he prefers. On the other hand, Dravid might feel hard done by not having his coach back him ... left to Dravid alone, there might not have been so many experimentations in the SL tournament as there were ... it was coz Chappell wanted to take a look at a lot of people that so many players got a look in. Now that India has lost, the least the coach should be doing is back the captain ... even if Ganguly is given back the captaincy, it wouldn't hurt for Chappel to give an pat on the back for Dravid.

People talk about Sehwag being captaincy material but it doesn't always show when he opens his mouth. Some months back, he was on record talking about preferring Akash Chopra to open with him as against someone like Yuveraj ... simply put, it isn't his job to be talking about who should be in the team and who should not be in the team. Yesterday, he came up with the statement of "Ganguly is the better choice" or words to the effect. Whatever his personal sentiments on the matter, if every player in the team starts giving his opinion in public on who should be captain, it would create for a very dirty atmosphere. A couple saying "We think Dravid would have been a better choice" and another couple saying "Dada is the best" ... and when they all come together in the dressing room or the field to play together, it is too much to expect that people will not remember. Dravid will remember next time that the day after he got bounced from the captaincy job, Sehwag gave the decision his Thumbs up. That is the problem with these ignorant louts like Sehwag and others who have no idea of what to say and what not to say in public ... kaheen bhi mooh khol dete hain ... kuch bhi bol dete hain.

As for the SL tri-series, SL seems to have the wood on India pretty good. I doubt whether Ganguly being the captain or Dravid being the captain really is as important as is made out to be. If one team gets another to 95 for 6 while chasing more than 200 and then loses from there, it sucks. India has done things like this under Dravid's captaincy here and under Ganguly's captaincy earlier ... just goes to show the players r not tough enough to close out the match.

BTW, for those who didn't read it, one day before the captain was chosen, Telegraph's Lokendra Pratap sahi (who definitely is somehow related to Ganguly and Dalmiya coz his reports are usually dead on ... some very good sources or leaks whatever term u prefer) wrote an article stating that barring a midnight coup, Ganguly had been finalized as India's captain for Zimbabwe. Also, in another article that there was a big dispute between the East zone selector and the South zone selector on the captaincy issue and since 2 more selectors supported the east zone selector, Kiran More, the chief selector, decided not to put the issue to vote but gave his blessing to Ganguly as captain.

The teams for the ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe and the test series following it also were released. Will someone explain to me this thing about Zaheer Khan's attitude which keeps cropping up now and then? There was one S. Ramesh not so long back who reportedly lost his place in the team due to "attitude" ... of course, not being one of Ganguly's boys, he never really got as many chances to come back. Zaheer is lucky on that score.

Agarkar makes a comeback which really makes one feel that the more things change in Indian cricket, the more they remain the same. On the positive front, RP Singh from Uttar Pradesh gets a look in ... the more players we see, the more options we have for the world cup and it is good that RP has a look in. I would have liked to see Sreesanth of Kerala get a look in ... I saw him in a couple of matches an year or two back and he impressed me a lot. I don't know his current form but from what I read, he was part of the pace bowlers camp that was held before the SL tour.

As usual, VVS and Kumble get the boot ... VVS will go back to feeling aggrieved and I am sure Deccan Chronicle will pen an article or ten about the discrimination against its favorite son. He will never learn really ... all he can really do is moan and blame his luck. He had a couple of chances to make his bat do the talking and he let them go. As for Kumble, I guess getting dropped regularly will someday get to him. Maybe he will get the message and pull himself out of contention for ODIs ... or maybe he just wont' get it either.

Ok guys ... congrats to Sania Mirza for breaking into the top 50. If injury hadn't laid her low, she might have done better than a first round loss at the JP Morgan Chase tournament last week and not had to drop out of this week's tournament. Hopefully she will be ok by the time the US open starts and we can hope for a couple of good wins from her.

Neelam J Singh tested positive at the World Athletics championships at Helsinki ... well, at least she could have qualified for the finals of the competition ... then at least her taking drugs makes a bit of sense. Take drugs and not be good enough for even a qualifying spot ... that sucks. Anyway, this lady obviously has good contacts at the Athletics Federation in India coz at every leading event, they send a couple of athletes and she is always there ... she has never won anything of note ... and yes I am ignoring the Asian games. Probably, this is the first time she is being recognized at some big tournament, even if for wrong reasons.

Karthikeyan will be racing the new Jordan from the next race onwards ... lets see if that gives him better luck.

Cheers all

The Chuckster


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