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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Cricket Columns

Like in Australia, team culture works in India too
Amrit Mathur
March 20, 2013
First Published: 00:15 IST(20/3/2013)
Last Updated: 00:18 IST(20/3/2013)

Like Australia, the concept of individual cricketers submitting to a superior, supreme team culture works in India too.

While most ex-players think the Aussies to be crazy for doing what they did, some supported this line in the sand moment where a tough call had to be taken.

This is the Australia team, we were told, which has zero tolerance for mediocrity, which won't accept disrespect for the head coach.

Similar principles about team culture apply in India — but here the system operates silently through complex, mysterious and more subtle moves.

Take, for instance, the recent changes at the top order. When Vijay and Dhawan opened the innings in Mohali, chances were no punter, however perceptive, would have placed a bet on this pair 15 days back.

It seems the grand theory of team culture had a role to play in this partnership being forged. Available information supports this contention:

For some time, rumours were flying around that there is friction, even discord, in the India dressing room and at one stage Dhoni had to parade players at a media briefing to say nothing was the matter — a sure giveaway that the strain was indeed hurting the team.

One is not sure that 'team culture' played a part in Sehwag's exit though Ganguly has suggested this was a contributing factor.

Gauti’s case
But in Gambhir's case the evidence is more compelling. Was he dropped on form? No, because he scored runs against England, more than his teammates.

Was he unfit? Sloppy on the field? The answer to both questions: No.

Indications are he has been taught a lesson, the issue is one of attitude and focus. The team wants Gautam to pull his weight, contribute more, accept greater responsibility and step up.

It is a case not so much of failure in the normal sense but failure in the context of potential and promise.

The feeling is Gautam has not done badly but should have done much more and embraced a larger leadership role.

Which leads to the fundamental matter of balancing individual interests with team requirements, of players buying into group goals and becoming selfless, not selfish.

There is no disputing that the team always comes first, and nobody will tolerate a disruptive player, however valuable.

Discipline is non-negotiable but punishment in the event of breach must be pragmatic and sensible.

The writer is a Delhi Daredevils official


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