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Failure involves not just 11

We control world cricket because of the money we make but are nowhere in rankings, reports Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2007 02:07 IST

Indian cricket is always in the midst of a crisis. The administrators have one eye on the elections, the other on the voters. Matters cricketing are secondary.



When the team loses, which is very often these days, the easiest and the most convenient thing to do is to blame the players. After all they are the performers and the face of the sport.



Things have stretched to such ridiculous lengths that we have even suggestions that the players be paid according to the number of runs they score and the number of wickets they take.



One sanctimonious board official would like us to believe that the players should be used like whipping boys and paid only if they perform. Maybe we can even demand money back from those who get out for zero or go wicketless. It is a price they have to pay for letting their country down.



These absurd nationalistic overtones betray a mindset that is failing to come to terms with the reality that there must be something wrong with a system that fails to produce a champion team.



We control world cricket because of the money we generate but tragically we are nowhere near the best team in the world. It should hurt those who run the game in the country, but it does only to the extent that the whole burden of becoming a world-beating side is dumped on the players.



To some extent yes, they should be held accountable and in the end don't they get punished by losing their place in the team? If you are not performing, you lose your job and with it all the perks and money. It is as simple as that.



Sport is not pure commerce and can't be seen purely in terms of the corporate worldview where every penny spent should fetch double monetary returns.



Even when one does agree that finally it is the players who have to deliver, these board officials and their armchair supporters should realise that the players also need proper conditions, support staff and a healthy enviroment to perform well.



If there are reports of infighting in the team, is the board serious in finding out why is this team reminding everyone of a bygone era where divided regional loyalties would play a significant role in creating an ugly mess?



When Greg Chappell became the Indian coach, the first thing he did was to dump Sourav Ganguly as captain and accuse him of dividing the team. One year down the line, the team, by all accounts, is a divided lot. Who should take the blame for this?



Who should take the blame for destroying the confidence of Irfan Pathan? Who should take the responsibility of turning Virender Sehwag into a spiritless batsman? Why is Mohammed Kaif languishing in domestic cricket? Why is Sachin Tendulkar playing like an insecure rookie who defends each ball as if his life is under threat?



All that one gets to read in the newspapers is sourced to only one man in the team. If on a day Greg Chappell is not telling us what is right and wrong with the team, then it is some top official team source who is pontificating on the ills affecting our side.



And then we have a bio-mechanist who has now become the assistant coach of the side but no one is sure what his role in the team is.



Is Ian Frazer good for this team? It is time the board starts seeking answers to these questions. We know that till the World Cup is over, nothing drastic can be done.



But if the reports that the players are an unhappy bunch are true, then isn't it the responsibility of the board to have a frank and fearless interaction with the players and identify the culprits?



For a team to perform well, it has to bond well and have trust in those who take all the responsible decisions. If that cord has snapped, then we are in serious trouble.