The Chief Cricket Officer of the Bangalore IPL team, Martin Crowe, owned up the responsibility for his team's dismal performance, with five losses from seven games and only one win at home in five visits. The 45-year-old told HT here on Wednesday: "I have not hit the right mark with the team combination. I take it in my chin in whatever shape and form." Excerpts:
Five defeats in seven games is not an ideal position to be in as the CCO…
We are definitely the underdogs now. It’s been a disappointment. We did not play well in front of our own crowd. Chinnaswamy has looked foreign to us. We are looking forward to the next three away games and take the confidence from that when we go back to Bangalore.
How much has Tuesday's developments affected the team, with Charu resigning as the CEO?
Nothing has changed. I can only speak for myself and say that I have obviously not hit the right mark with the combination. That’s fine, I take it on my chin in whatever shape and form. Nothing has changed from wanting throughout my life and career. So also with (captain) Rahul Dravid. Twenty20 is not about individual glory. It is about wining a game, making your fans feel great when they go home and wanting them to come back. It is cricketainment. We tried to do it. At the moment, six other sides have been able to do that.
How much of a say does the team owner, Vijay Mallya have in matters cricket?
We have seen Dr Mallya at matches and he pops into dressing room form time to time and at the odd parties. He is a busy man and is involved in F-1. We have to get on with the job.
Team coach Venkatesh Prasad's name too is said to be on the chopping block. Is it fair on him?
It is an inexplicable leak (in the media) that had no substance. We all don’t know how his name got mentioned. How can you not point a finger at the CCO first? It has been my territory and that's how I wanted. From my point of view, I am working with him. Venky has been a proven coach over the last year or so and therefore an asset to the franchise in the long term.
What are the reasons for the team's poor show?
It was obvious on paper that this squad was not a natural T20 team. I was brought in to try and find those combinations that worked for us.
So far, we have been outplayed in five games. In bowling, we have averaged 45/2 in 6 overs (power play), we lost 4-5 wickets in the middle overs and could not hit in the end. We have averaged 160 while the top sides have averaged 175-180. In T20, you need to exploit and deny the opposition. We have not taken wickets in the middle overs.
How difficult is it to bounce back from now on?
Just as it was tough at the start. We will continue to try and give opportunities to players. The biggest and toughest challenge in every game is the mixture of four and seven. For example, you look at Jaipur, they have the same four foreigners — opener (Graeme Smith), number 4 (Shane Watson), number 8 (Shane Warne) and opening the bowling (Sohail Tanvir). The big one for me is to get the mixture right. I don't know the local guys.
What is the ideal combination in T20 with the available players?
There has not been one. We changed the combination every game. We got in Dale Steyn and so could not play Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher pick themselves.
We have only another all-rounder in the squad, B Akhil, but he is injured. When Misbah-ul Haq arrived, Ross Taylor had to keep playing because he was our standout.
Cameron White has not played much at all, so we decided to try something out, sending him as an opener but he got a very good first ball (against Mohali). That has been the story.
Do not play Steyn? I don't think so. Not play Chanderpaul? We love a left-hander at the top. Boucher or Kallis will have to stand down on Thursday.
Hasn't there been too much dependence on Kallis?
You pick your best all-rounder. He hasn't fired in the right directions yet. It was not easy to bat at the Chinnaswamy as the scores say. Kallis has tried very hard.
What has been your answer to Mallya?
Everything that I explained above. And I said to him, sorry but we will keep going.