Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Chappell gets the benefit of doubt

I recently read (in The Pioneer, via India Uncut), with mild amusement, opposing viewpoints as to whether Greg Chappell should continue to be the coach of the Indian team. Without going into the details of the two sides of the argument, let me just say that it is quite preposterous to reconsider Chappell's appointment at this stage. More than anything, the debate is a consequence of our national obsession with the game and the media's consequent eagerness to feed the perpetual motion machine. In which case, it should be taken with a lump of salt, or better still, not taken seriously at all. It did set me thinking, particularly in the backdrop of the shameful capitulation at Wankhede, as to how Chappell has done in his short stint so far. One thing is for sure, he seems to chase controversy as if it were Aishwarya Rai. He has shown remarkable apetite for polemics, even as his stated objective is the betterment of the team. Has the performance matched up? One would think not, in view of the surrenders, Wankhede following on the heels of Karachi. The upshot is of course the performance in the one-day version, where thumping wins against Sri Lanka and Pakistan came either side of an uneven performance against South Africa at home. The team is on the verge of wrapping up the series against England, and the money is on the Indian side to take the series handily (there, I jinxed them). It's not all hunky dory, though, and the wins tend to cover up a few frailties. The bowling is still just above average, not really anywhere near menacing even with Munaf Patel in the side. But the worrying factor is the batting. Some of the experimentation has paid off and the emergence of Mahendra Dhoni and Suresh Raina has certainly added a dimension. On occasion, though, the mixing and matching has been taken to somewhat ridiculous levels. One hopes Rahul Dravid opening the batting was not a long term consideration. The poor form and shot selection of Virender Sehwag has no doubt caused a few headaches. The judgement on improvement in fielding levels should be reserved for the moment, especially in view of the atrocious catching in the tests against England. It would be somewhat naive to credit Chappell for the one-day performances and lampoon the team for the test debacles, as some in the media have tended to do (a reversal of the 'Players win, coaches lose' logic). On the whole though, slowly but surely, the rebuilding process seems to be leading to a tangible outcome, from a one-day perspective. Nothing much has changed on the test match front, and in fact, the team seems weaker than ever in the last four or so years. More than two years after the triumphal Pakistan tour, sadly we are still contemplating if we are good enough to be second best. Personally, I preferred the John Wright school of coaching where man management seemed to be a big part of his approach. That doesn't mean hard taskmasters who are not afraid to take on egos cannot succeed. Alex Ferguson, for instance. At this stage, however, it's not quite clear what will become of the side under Chappell. - NK


Blogger unsui said...

In days of specialization and with abundance of reources,BCCI with richest Coffers should now hire specialist test coach :P remember there have been experiments with Test team and ODI team , so why not take this specialization fever to next level. Whatever happened to the Shrink that was hired to deal with Trials and tribulations of carrying expectations of Billion (minus one - thats me)people.Specialized approach will help Team India to fulfill aspirations of success hungry fans

8:23 PM  

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