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The Rediff Cricket Interview / Narhari Amin
'Our senior players were careless'
April 03, 2007
Narhari Amin is one of the many politicians who have entered the sports arena as an administrator. He is not only a Congress heavyweight but also president of the Gujarat Cricket Association. For good measure, he is also a vice-president of the Board of Control of Cricket in India and graces its several important committees.
Haresh Pandya and Amin were engaged in a freewheeling conversation, at Circuit House in Rajkot on Tuesday, which was dominated by cricket and India's debacle in the World Cup.
Would you like to say something about the Indian team's performance in the World Cup?
It's a very, very disappointing performance. It's also very surprising, even shocking, the way we lost to Bangladesh, in particular. I mean, winning and losing are a part of the game, but it's very embarrassing to see our players throw in the towel without offering even token resistance.
They didn't fare well against Sri Lanka either�
Yes. And that's even more sad. After having lost to Bangladesh, it was expected of them to put up a champagne performance against Sri Lanka and win the game hands down. But it wasn't to be. Instead, our top batsmen failed miserably and made Sri Lanka's task a lot easier.
Have you assessed why India lost to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?
I think it's a clear case of sheer over-confidence and taking the opponents for granted. I won't say some of our senior players appeared to be irresponsible. Rather, they were certainly careless. Someone should have told them that they were playing in the World Cup and not in a club tourney.
Frankly, it was shocking the way Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni got out against Sri Lanka. Their dismissals put tremendous pressure on the other batsmen and we never recovered from it.
Do you think our team was fully prepared?
Of course! They were thoroughly prepared. They played two one-day series at home against the West Indies and Sri Lanka before embarking on the Caribbean tour. We have to admit our players played badly and no one should offer any excuses. Rahul Dravid has already said, after our team was thrown out of the tournament, that India just didn't deserve to win the World Cup.
Is Dravid's captaincy in any danger in the wake of India's debacle in the West Indies ?
I don't think so. Don't forget that besides Dravid, there are other ten players in the two matches that we lost. What can a captain do when his colleagues don't play well? But I'm not in a position to say whether he'll be retained as the captain or not. It's up to the selectors to decide.
But Dilip Vengsarkar, the chairman of selectors, doesn't seem to be happy with Dravid's attitude, if not captaincy. He told the media, on the eve of the World Cup, that the woefully out-of-form Virender Sehwag was in the squad only at the behest of the seemingly sober skipper�
It wasn't expected of Vengsarkar to go to the media and reveal what had happened at the selection committee meeting. Even if Dravid had pressed for Sehwag's selection, Vengsarkar could have exercised his authority as the chairman of selectors. So rather than blaming the captain, Vengsarkar should have kept quiet.
If at all Dravid is shown the door, don't you think the selectors, too, should be treated the same way?
Well, first of all, I don't think Dravid will be removed from captaincy. And even if he is, you can't show the door to the selectors. They may have selected the team, but it's the players who played badly and didn't live up to expectations. They're there for a two-year term and once it comes to an end, they'll be automatically replaced by others. Only rarely does a selector or two get re-elected.
Don't you think it's time to do away with this ancient five-man selection committee which encourages a quota system and promotes regionalism?
On the contrary, I'm all for the existing five-man selection committee. India is a vast country and every zone gets its representation in this committee, composed of five former cricketers from five different zones. Yes, the selectors ought to ensure that they see as much domestic cricket as possible and encourage younger cricketers by their presence at the ground. It should also help them scout more and more talented players.
But there are certain selectors who don't have much experience of playing at the international level. For example, only those who have played in the West Indies will know for sure what it takes to perform well in the Caribbean, and so on. Don't you think we should have selectors who have played a certain number of Tests and One-Day Internationals?
Yes, I do agree. We should have highly experienced Test cricketers on the selection panel. But, again, there can be an exception or two. Sometimes even a mere first-class cricketer who knows the game and its finer points so well can also prove to be an efficient selector.
Coming back to the World Cup and its aftermath as far as Indian cricket is concerned, what about Greg Chappell? He, too, has faced a lot of flak from almost all quarters�
I feel sorry for Chappell. I think he had done his utmost as the coach but in the end his wards let him down. Even if he experimented a bit too much in terms of strategy and batting order, we shouldn't forget that he had been doing it for the good of Team India only.
Are you suggesting that his contract should be renewed?
I'm just being sympathetic towards Chappell. His future with the Indian team will be decided by the Working Committee of the BCCI, which is meeting very soon. Besides Chappell's own report, those of Dravid and manager Sanjay Jagdale will also be scrutinised.
Raj Singh Dungarpur, a former BCCI president, is on record saying that no Indian player deserves to be the coach of this team. What have you to say?
Well, it's his personal opinion. The fact is we've plenty of former cricketers who have the experience and credentials to be the coach of Team India. Who can deny the merits of Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Aunshuman Gaekwad, Mohinder Amarnath and others of their ilk? I think any one of them could be a brilliant coach.
John Wright, the former Team India coach, has offered his services again. The great Vivian Richards, no less, has also shown keen interest to become coach of Team India�
Yes, they've expressed desires to coach Team India. But we'll have to wait and see whether Chappell's contract is renewed or not, whether Wright, Richards or any other foreign player is offered the position or whether an Indian gets to coach Team India. Frankly, like many, I've also no answers to these questions.
Many, including someone like Ian Chappell, have begun advising Tendulkar to call it day. What do you have to say in this regard?
Tendulkar is too great a player to be told anything. Ian Chappell has no business to advise him to say goodbye to cricket. I think Tendulkar still has a lot of good cricket in him. You can't castigate a player of his eminence just because he failed in a couple of matches. I think we've glorified his failure simply because it came in the World Cup. But he has been scoring consistently well in all sorts of cricket. I'm sure he'll bounce back and silence his critics, like Ian Chappell. I'm sure Tendulkar won't stay a day more in cricket when he himself realises his days are numbered. I mean he'll call it quits when the time comes. But he has still a long way to go and serve Indian cricket.
The Cup: Complete Coverage