The rise and fall of Greg Chappell
Please end experimentation and get on to the business. That may have been the message of the last few months that saw some disastrous performances by the Indian cricket team outside the sub-continent.
The experimentations with positions, frequent changes in attack composition and pinch hitters at number three and four, which helped the Indian team so much in the home series against Sri Lanka (6-1), South Africa (2-2) and England (5-1), and in Pakistan (4-1), came a cropper overseas.
India somehow managed to even Pakistan's advantage at Abu Dhabi (1-1), but lost initial momentum to lose 1-4 in the West Indies and, worse, came third in the three-horse race at Kuala Lumpur.
In fact, After Coca Cola cup in March 2000 when it lost out the final slot to South Africa and Pakistan, India has played 11 tri-Series, failing to reach the final only twice. DLF cup was the second such instance in over six years!
India's Performace in Tri-Series
(After Coca-Cola Cup in 2000)
Greg's problem may not be as much with experimentations, as the fact that that same players who thrived in subcontinent when facing new challenges, failed to manage that overseas. That is one critical aspect one needs to look into.
Despite some initial hiccups earlier in his coaching career and in last few months, Greg's record is still impressive. With 6 wins from 15 matches including a historic Test series win in the West Indies and 25/17 ODI record, Greg is still a force to reckon with.
Greg Chappell's Coaching Record
The second issue is Rahul Dravid's soft-looking persona, which conceals his determination to have his way.
To be fair to Dravid, he has always maintained that critical decisions are always team management's collective decisions. The man with straightest of bats has never felt shy of taking responsibility. Considering the Indian captain's great rapport with Chappell, it can't be otherwise.
Somehow, one still gets the impression that Greg is always in charge. So it's the coach who invariably gets the blame. His utterances do not help the matter either.
Indian coach's recklessness, even if candid comments on players like Pathan that he is not being considered because he has ''lost confidence'' may further demoralize the player and, worse, show the coach in bad light.
Star-worshippers among the Indian fans do not like players to be dropped. Being rested is a more diplomatically correct word. Its time Greg should be very careful about his choice of words. Simply because his utterances, much like Sania's, have potential to create a 'national crisis'.
Terror tactics of Dean Jones
One Australian who may have perfected the art of putting foot in the mouth is Dean Jones.
First of all, during a live telecast, it was both cruel and foolish to use the word terrorist against a Muslim player. Even if it was meant to be a joke during an ad-break. Now, comes another bombshell. Jones' new terrorist is a harmless looking creature Nicky Boje!
Now why fix if it ain't broke, mate. People had forgotten about the controversy and the former Australian batsman is trying his best to remind them. Wiser thing will be to save it for a future best-seller!
Jones can consider himself lucky that the cricketing world is embroiled in so many problems that his remarks will not be noticed, and a ridiculous defence of an indefensible utterance may not be severely penalized.
Here is the culprit
And it is not Inzamam! The very fact the match referee Ranjan Madugalle was forced to punish the amiable Pakistan captain was because he had to go by the rulebook.
However, his observation on no evidence on ball tempering on the ball or on camera should be construed a strong indictment of umpire Darrell Hair, who had sent the cricketing world into tizzy with his jaundiced outlook on the Pakistani team.
Now, in a strong show of solidarity with the Pakistan board, though not expressed in so many words, BCCI has virtually unilaterally forced Hair out of the Champions trophy.
Hair may still officiate matches outside the subcontinent, thanks to some good friends in the establishment including Malcolm Speed and vocal supporters like Ricky Ponting, but his moral authority may have been eroded beyond redemption.
But the Hair episode may also serve a reminder that the spirit of the game is much more important than the laws of the game. The former Indian captain Vishwanath had shown it nearly three decades ago when he had asked the umpire to recall a dismissed England batsman, as he had not touched the ball.
The batsman, Bob Taylor along with Ian Botham, engineered India's loss, but the game gained immensely.
Incidentally, all three men under seize are for different reasons. Greg for recent cricketing choices, Jones for choice of words and victims, and Hair for his inability to understand that the authority must not lead to anarchy.
Coming months will be critical for these Australians. At stake will be their moral authority to dictate, commentate, and supervise.