Is cricket losing its moorings? The current trend of captain-coach clashes is too frequent for comfort, giving rise to the fear — is cricket hurtling towards football?
The Ganguly-Chappell saga, and the more recent Pietersen-Moores showdown, throws up some pertinent questions in cricket: Who calls the shots — the Captain or the Coach?
If coaches are a modern necessity — shouldn’t they be neither seen nor heard? Since when does cricket need inflated football type coaches?
In the good old days, there was the cricket manager-cum-mentor who ‘managed’ off-the-field matters, administration, logistics, practice sessions, and managed to keep in the background.
There was no question on who the ‘boss’ was. Can you imagine a Pataudi, or a Wadekar, a Gavaskar, or Kapil Dev giving way to the ‘Chappells’, the ‘Fletchers’, or the Moores?
After all, isn’t cricket a game where the captain is the real leader. It is the skipper who takes the stick when the team underperforms, or gets the credit when all goes well.
Therefore, it is the captain who takes the key decisions (or should). The responsibility lies with him. However much a coach may advise, strategise or plan, when the players take the field, it is the captain who takes over and lets his instincts, gut feeling, experience or whatever take over as well. The ‘best-laid plans’ (A, B, C…) of the coach and team, may well have to go out of the window.
Why then, should the coach encroach on the captain’s territory? Why does a coach try and destroy the captain?
Ironically, that Ian Chappell’s famous quote on coaches was lost on his younger brother! While the batsmen must see the ball the size of a football… Coaches can shrink themselves to the red cherry size…
This is not to say that the coach remains a mere dummy. Or, that the captain and players ride roughshod over the support staff. But, the boot seems to be on the other foot. And the way the coaches are carrying on.
Unless they learn from the Chappell experience and keep a low profile.
Currently, cricket seems to be rushing ‘forward’ — at breakneck speed — meeting ‘football’ head-on.But we have time — to blow the whistle, and pull out the red card.