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The Rediff Cricket Interview / Niranjan Shah
'Dravid is one of the most astute captains'
April 02, 2007
Like most Indians, Board of Control for Cricket in India secretary Niranjan Shah is also disappointed by Team India's lacklustre performance in the World Cup. He has already hinted at an overhaul of the team, its management and a new performance-based contract system for the players.
In an interview with Haresh Pandya, at the plush Saurashtra Cricket Association office in Rajkot, the outspoken Shah minced no words while discussing the team's showing in the ongoing tournament in the West Indies, but stressed that Dravid deserves to continue as India's captain.
Are you in favour of large-scale changes in the Indian team? There's a growing demand from many quarters in the wake of the shocking ouster from the World Cup in the preliminary round itself?
Realistically speaking, you can't have large-scale changes all of sudden. The entire team has failed to live up to expectations. You can't drop the whole team. It'll be a foolish thing to do.
So what's your suggestion?
I strongly believe we should have a reserve pool of, say, 25 talented players to choose from in the event of a situation like this. I'm going to make this suggestion in the Working Committee meeting of the BCCI. It would encourage promising youngsters and make the seasoned players more determined to perform better.
There's been increasing clamour, and also demands, for Rahul Dravid's head. Should Dravid the captain be shown the door or retained?
First of all, Dravid isn't the only person responsible for India's pathetic performance in the World Cup. If India had made it to the Super Eights everyone would have praised his captaincy. But because we didn't, people are now talking about finding a replacement for him. In my personal opinion, and I'm saying this not as the BCCI secretary but as a cricket lover, we should continue with Dravid at the helm of Team India. This is my personal view only, let me emphasise. And I'm not even a part of the selection procedure.
But don't you think he is often found wanting in imagination and adventurism, especially when the going gets tough for the team?
On the contrary, I'd say Dravid is one of the most astute captains around. It's just that luck deserted him and his side in the World Cup. The fact that we didn't do well in two World Cup matches doesn't make Dravid a bad captain overnight.
What about the future of coach Greg Chappell in the aftermath of India's debacle in the Caribbeans? Will the BCCI renew his contract?
I can't say anything on this issue right now. We haven't yet received reports from Chappell, captain Dravid and manager Sanjay Jagdale on India's performance in the World Cup. They're expected to submit their individual reports by April 6. We'll discuss the matter and decide the future course of action only after studying their reports.
But the general feeling, including that of many former cricketers, is that it's high time Chappell is replaced by an Indian. Don't you think so?
We can't go by emotions or general feelings. Whether to renew Chappell's contract or not will be decided by the Working Committee of the BCCI. And we're also going to hear the views of some former Indian captains whom we've invited for discussions on certain issues.
Chappell is on record saying he wasn't happy with the team selected for the World Cup�
It was the best possible team that we had selected for the World Cup. Why is Chappell saying that now after India has been ousted from the World Cup?
Is the BCCI going to review the players' contracts in the light of the team's shoddy showing in the World Cup?
Yes. We're planning to introduce a new performance-based contract system. There will be special bonus, too, for every Test and series win. However, there won't be many changes in the already existing contract system.
Could you elaborate a bit?
I can't reveal all the details of our performance-based contract system. All I can say is it's going to be a very attractive and encouraging one, all things considered.
When is the performance-based contract system likely to be implemented?
Well, hopefully, before India's next series in Bangladesh
Have you spoken to senior players in this regard?
We have informed Dravid about this performance-based system. We'll discuss it at length during the Working Committee meeting and finalise it.
The Cup: Complete Coverage