On Sunday night, Sourav Ganguly roamed around the team hotel lobby, starkly visible, especially given how deserted it otherwise was. Ganguly, incidentally, has provided grist for the rumour-mill again, this time because of a reported showdown with Rahul Dravid over an SMS.
It goes like this. Apparently, before India's match against Bangladesh, a journalist sent an SMS to Ganguly asking about Irfan Pathan and signed off with his name. The text message went to Virender Sehwag by mistake. Sehwag showed that SMS to Rahul Dravid (who has backed him right through). Dravid reportedly went to Ganguly and told him not to be "in touch with the media" and lectured him about team rules. Ganguly apparently got somewhat upset and told him that he had been captain and knew the rules and, like most other players, had friends in the media as well.
This story reflects the unhappiness and discord all around. And if true, this tale is a reflection of not just the paranoia in the team but also on the amateurish handling of what was really, a very minor issue.
This now, is today's Indian cricket team, by all accounts, a "splintered" one. Whatever picture Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid want to paint for us, there is no escaping the fact that India won't know where to go from here and what corrective measures to take so that such disasters don't become commonplace.
At the moment though, the team is gripped by insecurity and the juniors are terribly worried. “We might be made scapegoats,” said a youngster, and a senior remarked, “I wonder what drastic changes will be!”
Obviously, some are in the offing. The Indians will fly home on the first available flight (probably Tuesday) and will have ample time to reflect on what went wrong. A serious introspection and hard measures to get the team back on track are needed.
A lot of the blame for the breaking of bonds in the team must lie with Chappell who has “planted his views on various players on certain journalists”. Invariably, the coach's opinion got back to the player concerned. How could there not be friction?
The problem also lay in Dravid's lack of communication. Even at the best of times, he prefers his own company and counsel, leaving his players to their own devices post a match or net session. This time though, he needed to communicate, get his players together, especially the seniors. That did not happen.
Why did a player of Sachin Tendulkar's stature (he is also vice-captain) feel so unwanted that he detached himself from the team? Why was Ganguly not trusted even after having made such a great comeback? It is easy to blame others but in the end, the buck stops with the captain and coach.
These are some questions that need to be answered before any surgery is done on this team.