Roger Michael Humphrey Binny was a kingpin in India's scheme of things in the early 1980s. A more than useful bowling allrounder, Binny played a pivotal role in our sensational World Cup triumph in England in 1983. The right-arm medium-pacer made the most of English conditions and pitches and took 18 wickets in the tournament, which was a record then. He was also successful with the ball on India's 1986 tour of England, where we won the three-Test series 2-0. Binny took 12 wickets and troubled all the leading batsmen.
In an interview with Haresh Pandya, the former Karnataka and India cricketer talks about India's lack of genuine allrounders, India's poor fielding, India's chances in the Twenty20 World Cup, and so on.
To what would you ascribe India's lack of genuine allrounders?
Hard to say. Why only India? Many other countries also don't have genuine allrounders. The only names that come immediately to mind are Jacques Kallis and Andrew Flintoff. Of course, we've had good allrounders in domestic cricket. But international cricket is a different ball game altogether. It truly tests your technique and temperament. Rather than genuine allrounders, we've bits-and-pieces men, who are masters in one particular discipline and contribute a bit in another. Anil Kumble, for instance. Principally a bowler, he often chips in with useful contributions with bat.
Do you regard those wicketkeepers as allrounders who can also bat well?
Yes, of course. And we've two genuine allrounders in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthick. Both have proved their talents as wicketkeepers and batsmen. It's just that Karthick doesn't get to keep wickets because of Dhoni. But he, too, is a very fine stumper. You can't deny their contributions in our Test series win against England.
Personally, who do you prefer, specialists or those who can contribute a bit with bat as well as bowl?
As far as Test cricket is concerned, I'm always for specialists. Unless you've genuine allrounders like Jacques Kallis, who can walk into any team on the strength of their batting or bowling alone, it's better to go for specialists who can contribute substantially at least in one particular department of the game. One-day cricket is different and you can always take chances in it. In fact, bits-and-pieces men do come in handy in the shorter version of the game.
Can this apply to Twenty20 cricket as well?
Yes, but only to some extent because Twenty20 is heavily loaded in favour of batsmen. Whoever you choose, they've to be able to bat really attackingly. It's the very nature of this latest form of the game.
How realistic are you about India producing capable allrounders in near future?
We have tremendous talent at the junior level and let's hope that we'll get some from them. Junior cricketers today get a lot of exposure both at the national and international level. Let's hope that those who are very promising will become genuine and actually performing allrounders when they graduate to international cricket. The National Cricket Academy is also doing its best. So there is no reason why we can't get a few quality allrounders in near future.
You were a key member of the Indian team that won the three-Test series 2-0 on the 1986 tour of England. Rahul Dravid and company, too, have won the recent three-Test rubber 1-0 in England. How do you compare the two series triumphs?
Obviously, our team totally dominated the series right from the beginning. We won the first Test at Lord's by 5 wickets and the second at Headingley by 279 runs. We never gave England much of a chance. If you look at the present Indian team, it didn't dominate the series the way we did. In fact, Dravid and company would surely have lost the first Test at Lord's but for the rain. Of course, they won the second Test at Trent Bridge quite convincingly.
Don't you think India should have won at The Oval, too, and wrapped the series 2-0?
Yes, we should have won the third Test hands down. I was really surprised when Dravid didn't enforce the follow-on. Had we done so, England would surely have crumbled under pressure.
How do you rate Dravid as a captain?
He is good. He is a bit defensive, more like Sunil Gavaskar. He has been doing a decent job and making a good use of the resources at his command. He has the advantage of being in charge of the team which has a couple of former India captains and I'm sure he must be getting a lot of inputs from them.
How do you compare Dravid with his predecessor Sourav Ganguly?
Ganguly was more aggressive and assertive. He got the best out of his players and turned India into a winning team. He was always prepared to take risks. Dravid also has earned respect of all his players. His performance in terms of win-loss is also quite good, both in India and abroad. He is leading a team full of exciting and experienced players. But he has to be a bit more adventurous at times.
How are our chances in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa ?
It's a very difficult question to answer. Of course, we do have a few good players for this kind of cricket. But my main concern is India's poor fielding. It has suddenly become very poor and the ongoing one-day series in England affords the best example of how poorly our players field. And a poor fielding side stands no chance of doing well in Twenty20 cricket.
But we've a special fielding coach in Robin Singh, haven't we?
Yes, and that's why it's even more shocking why Team India is fielding so badly. I don't mean to say Robin Singh isn't trying his best. But he can't do more than telling them the importance of fielding and teaching them how to field well. He can't field for them! Team India ought to improve its fielding, not just keeping in mind the Twenty20 World Cup but any international assignment for that matter. Besides being talented and consistently performing cricketers, you've to be very good fielders also.
Will Team India miss the triumvirate of Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid in the Twenty20 extravaganza?
I don't think so. After all, it's only a 20 overs a side game and the team that bats quicker and fields brilliantly has as good a chance as any other side. Maybe we'll miss Tendulkar's batting, particularly his versatility at the crease. But we mustn't forget that Twenty20 is essentially a youngster's game. The selectors have picked a younger side. But the question is what if we field in the Twenty20 World Cup the way we did in the one-day series against England?
How do you look at the Indian Cricket League (ICL)?
I think it's good for those who don't get opportunities to show their talents. You can have only 15 players in a team and out of them just 11 can figure in a match. India is a vast country and hundreds of youngsters play cricket. But not all of them get a platform or two to display their skills. So the ICL is a boon for them.
Is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) right in making a lot of hue and cry about the ICL?
All I can say is that the ICL is good for those unfortunate players lacking in opportunities. What's wrong in giving them a chance to parade their talents?
Your son Stuart Binny, too, has joined the ICL. Did he consult you before taking the decision?
Yes, he did. He is mature and wise enough to know what is good for him and his future. We discussed and examined the pros and cons and ultimately I left it to him to decide what he thought was better for him.
Would you join the ICL if an offer is made to you?
No, I don't think so. I've a good job and I'm happy and content with it.