Far from the searing heat and dust of Delhi and the humidity of Mumbai, the Ireland-bound Indian cricketers spent three days in the pleasant environs of Bangalore, sweating it out.
In many ways it was an unusual camp. There was not much media scrutiny, not much hype and the players were not hounded by scores of cameramen in search of an exclusive bite. It was an unusual camp for one more reason. There was no single authority manning the camp. There was no John Wright, no Greg Chappell to oversee what "the boys are up to".
To many, the sight of a quiet Venkatesh Prasad conducting the nets and the busy-looking Robin Singh putting the players through fielding drills was a reminder of the old days, when a cricket camp was not seen as a place where war strategies are chalked out. Chandu Borde, whose age and not his cricketing past have made all those associated with cricket a bit nervous, was absent. The newly appointed cricket manager will join the team in Mumbai on June 19, when the team leaves for Ireland and the players are hoping he will be able to play a constructive role in building the morale.
The apparent silence and the matter-of-fact manner in which the players went through their drills — more cricketing than innovation — could be interpreted in more than one way. Some felt that the intensity of previous camps under Chappell was missing, which it may have been, but that is more a reflection of the bungling officialdom than the fault of cricketers. Skipper Rahul Dravid spoke to the media at the conclusion of the camp, making the usual soundbites, like "the World Cup is now past" and how they are "looking ahead to the England tour".
The issue of the coach and Graham Ford not accepting the job will be a sore point. Dravid expressed his helplessness, making it clear that he had no role to play in this episode. In the same breath, he said that a coach plays an important role and takes a lot of the load and pressure off the captain, especially in off the field preparations and managing the players. It is a role that Borde is now expected to perform. Given Borde's age, there is apprehension that he may not be able to cope with the pressures of the job and not be able to perform the vital role of man-manager.
If that were the case, than Dravid will have to take on a more proactive role and also will have to involve Prasad and Robin Singh more in the day-to-day management of all affairs cricketing.