The debate the words “experimentation” and “flexibility” have elicited in recent times is immense. While the Indian team management, namely coach Greg Chappell and captain Rahul Dravid, insist, rather inflexibly, that there is a method to their constant shuffle — what though is anybody’s guess — Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, and ace batsman Shahid Afridi have their own contrasting takes on it.
Woolmer, who, some say, seldom misses an opportunity to proclaim his vision, on Monday rather cleverly, yet cogently, launched a veiled attack on the Indian team management, alluding that there had to be a valid raison d’être behind the frequent shuffling of any batting order.
“Experimentations with the batting order have become notoriously flexible in recent times, and I think that the batsmen will have to buy flexibility,” Woolmer said, the statement reflecting his ability with words. “I’m all for flexibility and believe it is intrinsic to success in one-day international cricket. However, the players have to know why the batting order is being shuffled. You can’t just make changes for the heck of it. The players have to understand and be convinced about every move,” he added.
Woolmer, with years of experience, savvy and tactical acumen, hardly does anything off the cuff. And although he was careful not to specifically mention India by name anytime during his argument, his remarks could be interpreted as questioning the logic behind the Indian team’s “experimentations”, particularly, as the question he was asked was with reference to the Men in Blue.
Meanwhile, the flamboyant Afridi, a definite superstar on the Pakistani firmament, had his own take on experimentation and said he regretted he did not had a fixed batting slot in the team. “Of course, my performances have been affected by the frequent shuffling,” thundered Afridi in no uncertain terms.
“I have struggled with the bat recently and part of the reason can be that I don’t have a fixed slot. I did very well at number 6 for Pakistan two years ago but since then, I have played from Numbers 1 to 11. It is my fault too but as a batsman, I would like to know my batting slot a day prior to the game and would like to have a fixed position.”
Meanwhile, Mohammed Yousuf too concurred with Afridi, saying that although as a player, it was his prerogative to play in any position the team wanted him to, personally, he would like to play in a position he had got used to. It would be interesting to see which way the cookie crumbles. Both Chappell and Dravid will stick to their guns and Woomer has only added to the raging debate.