There’s a correlation between a stable administration and a team’s strong performance on the field, so is it then fair to compare the style of a player with that of an official? The thought came to me following Virender Sehwag’s highly amusing press conference in Chittagong where he claimed: “Bangladesh are an ordinary side. They can’t beat India because they can’t take twenty wickets.”
Why all the fuss over his comments? After all he’s correct.
Sehwag was only being honest, which is the least you should expect from players and administrators. He was also being consistent; he’s a straightforward, uncomplicated batsman so why would he be any different off the field?
As a batsman, Sehwag is brilliant but frustrating.
He can win a match in a session with scintillating stroke play and equally drive his captain to distraction by playing an indiscreet shot at an inappropriate moment. However, as per the lyrics in the “Love and Marriage” song, “you can’t have one without the other.”
On the one hand, a captain can’t gleefully hail Sehwag’s scintillating performances when it results in victory then castigate him for the odd indiscreet shot when it’s detrimental to the team.
If we were to judge the flamboyance of administrators along similar lines, does that make Lalit Modi the Sehwag of officialdom?
Modi has had moments of brilliance interspersed with occasional lapses.
His outstanding manoeuvres have resulted in IPL franchises, the IPL-Google deal and the BCCI’s finances rising exponentially.
On the debit side, his indiscretions include a 1980s possession charge in the USA and a rampant ego that is massaged by appearing more often on the IPL television coverage than the DLF logo.
Modi is an administrator for the modern game; he’s decisive and forward thinking. However, just like Sehwag needs a steady opening partner to balance the combination, Modi requires a strong lieutenant to watch over him and temper his instinctive brilliance with a liberal dose of discipline.
With a number of international teams now bunched at the top of the rankings and sides being more aware of each other’s ability through technology, one of the few remaining ways of gaining an advantage over opponents is to have a decisive and more flexible administration.
This most certainly doesn’t describe Pakistan’s administration. It would’ve been preferable if Pakistan hadn’t appointed Mohammad Yousuf captain in the first place; he has a temperament that is weighed down rather than being buoyed by the extra responsibility.
However, having made the appointment and then found him wanting in the second Test, a vibrant administration would’ve considered moving swiftly to find a replacement; they couldn’t have done any worse because following the SCG debacle, Yousuf was a dead captain leading.
Having seen that Yousuf would back off even before trouble reared its ugly head, the Australians couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to attack Pakistan.
They knew Yousuf was likely to succumb and he quickly obliged on the first day of the Hobart Test. That just confirmed his lame duck status. So what did Pakistan do? They reacted in the worst possible way.
With the administration of both Pakistan and West Indies floundering, South Africa has made an interesting decision on the eve of the team’s departure for the crucial Indian tour. They’ve decided to restructure their administration and selection panels.
This move has the potential to replicate either a brilliant Sehwag attacking masterpiece or the vision of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Salman Butt gesturing at each other after having failed to complete an easy single.