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'I settled differences in team'

Cricket manager Chandu Borde does some straight talking in this exclusive interview with Amol Karhadkar.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2007 00:07 IST
Amol Karhadkar

At 73, Chandu Borde is an unlikely coach, or cricket manager, as he is officially called. Yet, talk to him for even five minutes and the impression left behind is that of a calm, candid man, someone who’s seen and experienced a lot of life and has a definite opinion on those experiences.

For instance, here’s a startling remark. Asked about the rumoured differences between the seniors post the World Cup fiasco, and how he coped with being thrown to the lions, he answers without batting an eyelid.

“I had heard that there were differences within the team, but I think I have succeeded in sorting them out,” Borde says. You have to pause and ask again -- is he admitting there were differences?

“No, no,” he clarifies. “I had heard that there were some differences, but when I took over I never really felt that this was a divided lot…” And then he adds, “But I guess my presence also played its part in creating a lighter atmosphere within the team, for I never believe in scolding anyone. If you sit down with someone, make him realise his mistakes and look at possible solutions, most problems are resolved. I think I managed to convince them and it helped them change a bit.”

“Players have always respected me,” he continues thoughtfully. You ask how he managed with the sniggering about his age — was it an issue among the players too? He is quick to point out that "they" (the players), respected him in 1989 too.

“That hasn’t changed now," he says. "I've never portrayed myself as the boss, nor have I discriminated at all throughout the tour. Everyone has been given the same importance. And I have behaved like a friend with everyone in the squad. They can approach me anytime and I can do the same.”

So you switch tack and get another interesting quote. There were rumours that Borde was extremely unhappy during the Test series for being sidelined from the decision-making process. He pauses here. “Well, it happened slightly during the practice sessions early in the tour, but I never interfered," he says. “And then they realised it soon and resumed consultations with me. So it was a minor thing and has been amicably sorted out.”

Given that Borde does not seem to like the least whiff of an argument or fracas, that is probably as close to an admission of discontent one will get out of him.

So you switch again and ask about how he likes being thought of as a lucky mascot of sort. He accompanied the Indian team as manager on their historic 1989 tour to Pakistan too and this time, he was there to watch India seal the Test series.

“Well the luck factor plays a part in every aspect of life," he agrees. “But more than luck, there are some strong beliefs and a unique frame of mind that make a difference as well. I feel some small tips I gave the youngsters must have really helped them succeed on this tour.”

Fair enough, so what are the contributions of fielding coach Robin Singh and bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad? How do they manage to divide responsibilities without a problem?

“Everyone was briefed about their roles by the Board, someone was to look after bowling, someone to look after fielding, and I was made the overall manager, so we worked accordingly and there were no ego clashes," says Borde phlegmatically.

The talk of ego clashes naturally brings one back to the senior players. Borde has been in the unique position of being selection committee chairman in the early part of Sourav Ganguly’s tenure as skipper and has now worked closely with India captain Rahul Dravid for over two months.

What are his impressions of the duo? “The main difference is Sourav was a completely instinctive skipper,” says Borde. “Some of his decisions even stunned me as the chairman but he backed his instincts and most of those decisions worked for him.”

And Dravid? “Well, Rahul is not like that,” he continues. “He is more strategy-driven. He chalks out a plan ahead of the game, sticks to it, and hardly tries something out of the blue. Sourav, on the other hand, was never like that as a skipper.”

Does he believe that Dravid’s apparent rigidity (as he sees it) from time to time is harmful to the team’s interests? "Sometimes, if you stick to the same theory but if it is not executed that well, then it's very important to change it,” says Borde. “What's more important is to change the strategy before the damage is done.”

Despite his successful stint with India, Borde wasn't even considered by the Board to continue for the Twenty20 World Cup, which begins in South Africa next month. “They didn't ask me,” says Borde, without any obvious disappointment.

“And frankly speaking, as I haven't even seen a Twenty20 match from a balcony, there was nothing to feel bad about.” There you have it.