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Professionalism sums up this team best

A marathon is a gruelling experience, and no mistake. I am lost in admiration for everybody who managed to carry on through the pain barrier, writes Arun Lal.
PTI | By Arun Lal
UPDATED ON MAY 16, 2004 01:36 PM IST

The win in Pakistan has been tremendous from every aspect. The entire nation is rejoicing at this away win. These are very precious moments and must be savoured.

The other day, I was asked to list the most important assets of this particular Indian team. It did not require great deliberation to see that the most pertinent feature that sums up this team is professionalism. A term hardly understood and used rather loosely.

The ability to take hard decisions started with the likes of Kumble being dropped for Harbhajan and culminated in the single most significant decision (the declaration at Multan) that has changed Indian cricket irreversibly.

It has sent the right signals to everybody that the team interest is above all else. In fact, there is no other consideration at all. No doubt, it has shaken an emotional people obsessed with personal landmarks and personalities but this, to my mind, has set a terrific example for all future generations.

What is even more significant is that the individuals concerned, undoubtedly disappointed, have displayed the temperament to accept the decisions and carry on with the task on hand. This acceptance is what professionalism is all about.

Such decisions are hard to make and even harder to accept. This new attitude is what has narrowed the gap between Australia and this Indian team. The team has unbelievable talent and an ideal blend of youth and experience. This coupled with their team spirit has given them a momentum, which is now hard to stop.

No body is indispensable, the reserve bench is itching to play and who ever comes in rides the crest of this momentum and performs well. God help you if you get injured e.g. Pathan, Balaji and Yuvraj Singh are here to stay. Spare a thought for Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Nehra and what of Akash Chopra? A terrific situation for the team but extremely cruel at another level.

Balaji, Pathan and Yuvraj have been the finds of the tour. Yuvraj is amazing talent and comes in already seasoned through one-day cricket, Pathan had already been recognised but Balaji has been the true revelation.

He has improved beyond recognition. He has discipline, can swing the ball, a terrific temperament and a languid rhythm about him. Qualities that made the great Kapil Dev. These two wicket-taking bowlers, have added teeth to the muscle of the Indian team and that is what is required to win Test matches.

Sourav Ganguly has been exceptional. Apart from confounding his critics and becoming the most successful captain ever, he has shown great character. He may have had the benefit of the greats like Tendulkar and Dravid but has to be given the credit for building a team, which can now realistically think of taking on the mantle of the best in the world.

The one area that needs tightening is that the team once ahead, tends to relax, allowing the opposition a chance to get back into the series.

The credit for this rather significant change must go to the seniors who are setting the example and of course, the support staff. Coach John Wright, physio Andrew Leipus, trainer Greg King and all others who provide behind-the-scene support.

Credit must also be given to the BCCI for retaining these very competent individuals, who in a matter of two years have changed the face of Indian cricket.

It is time, that like Australia, the BCCI engages a professional manager for the team. This is imperative for the sake of continuity, efficiency and progressive professionalism of the team.

The only question is, can they rise above giving themselves Laddoos? So far the coach, physio, trainer etc. were jobs that they could not by any stretch of imagination fulfill. Such an appointment will be the first indications that deeply entrenched vested interests have started to see the obvious and that better sense is now prevailing.

The time has now come for them to distance themselves from day to day functioning. A task best achieved by professionals and restrict their role to the all-important policymaking.

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