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Sports is best left to those with understanding of ground reality

The job of cricket administration or even coaching might seem easy to an outsider, but the nuances are best understood by those who understand the situation through first-hand experience.

cricket Updated: Aug 10, 2017 09:25 IST
Ravi Shastri’s job has been described as one of a ‘buddy and mentor’ by the BCCI.
Ravi Shastri’s job has been described as one of a ‘buddy and mentor’ by the BCCI. (AP)

In keeping with the BCCI’s new love for robust processes and transparent governance, the DDCA has advertised for coaches, selectors and managers, setting out criteria to attract qualified professionals.

The process is fine but the devil, as they say, is in the detail. The eligibility requirements for DDCA’s coaches are so stringent that they would rule out Mike Hesson and Russell Domingo --- Test coaches of New Zealand and South Africa --- even for the under-14 job!

A player must have played international cricketer or 55 first-class games, and Hesson, 42, has not played a first-class game though he has coached Kenya and is head coach of New Zealand since 2013.

Domingo did not make the Eastern Province team but is South Africa coach last four years.

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When the Supreme Court ruled on cricket’s technical matters, an important voice welcomed the decision. Good luck to retired judges, it said, if they think they can run cricket.

The remark was laced with sarcasm but it made the point that sports should be left to those with experience and understanding of the ground reality.

In India, cricket interests everyone and so deep is the general awareness that all of us are self-appointed experts. Strangers have (bravely) advised Sachin Tendulkar on batting and Virender Sehwag has been lectured on moving his feet by people who don’t know mid-on from mid-off.

Cricket in our social context is the spark that ignites a friendly chat and breathes life into dull discussions over dinner.

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Players-turned-commentators admit cricket is simple when viewed from the media box. Much the same way, cricket administration appears uncomplicated from a distance.

It is difficult to understand why the learned judges decided to shrink the national selection committee from five to three considering India has 28 Ranji teams, close to 1000 first-class players and almost 100 venues that stage matches.

Also, why should only former internationals be national selectors. Australia is headed by Trevor Hohns who never earned the Baggy Green. Raj Singh Dungarpur was a distinguished chairman of the selection committee though he did not play for India, and Sanjay Jagdale, a Ranji player, was an excellent selector.

The point is the quality of the person and his knowledge matter, not the batting average or the number of games he played.

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There are many Test players who would be disastrous selectors or coaches. It was said about a senior Test player that his entire cricket knowledge could be written on the nail of the little finger and there would still be space left!

Meanwhile, the Anil Kumble-Ravi Shastri coach selection drama has triggered fresh debate about the role of the coach. Imran Khan, Ian Chappell, Shane Warne consider coaches an unnecessary nuisance.

Arjuna Ranatunga echoes the sentiment when he says the captain is the boss, the driver of the bus whereas the coach is only a conductor.

Coach Shastri has said he is a facilitator, his role restricted to creating the right environment in the dressing room. The BCCI has also provided clarity on the subject. The coach, it mentioned in a press release, is ‘a buddy and mentor’!

(All views expressed are personal)