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A strong India is good for world cricket
April 09, 2007
I have watched the incredible rippling effect created as a result of India's early exit from the World Cup with a mixture of bewilderment, disbelief and sadness.
The accusations and finger-pointing started in the media within minutes of the team's defeat by Bangladesh, and with India's shock exit there was hell to pay.
Fueled by an over-heated media, the country's discontent grew and the furious fans demanded answers.
Amid this feverish environment the BCCI announced a two-day meeting to consider, among other issues, the future of the coach, which became a non-issue really following Greg Chappell's announcement that he would not be seeking a renewal of his contract. The immediate future of Indian cricket was the hot potato the Board had to handle.
Why had a team full of individual superstars put up such an abysmal show? There is no doubt that India have some wonderfully talented and special cricketers but the reality was they did not perform and were beaten by two better teams on the day. Everyone involved has to take responsibility for the debacle.
By the end of Day One, the Board had announced sweeping changes that although are new and appear radical within the structure of cricket in India, are in fact operating successfully in a number of other cricketing countries.
Specialist coaches for bowling and fielding are used in both Australia and New Zealand. In many countries restrictions are put on making comments to the media and guidelines clearly given. New Zealand have a specific media relations official for this purpose.
I have spoken about the importance of the role of selectors and how they must be focused on the big picture when selecting players, and thus, be better able to select a well-balanced team in which the players' skills complement each other. The role of selector is a time-consuming task for me in a small country like New Zealand and I hope that those charged with that responsibility in a vast country like India will be given the flexibility and resources to enable them to ensure talented players do rise to the top. Selectors need to be accountable, contracted for a set period and well remunerated.
New Zealand have moved away from the National Academy or Institute environment for the development of our next tier of players, choosing instead to go with 'A' team tours, and this has proved to be a positive development which India would do well to revive within their own system.
It is only natural for senior players to resist the changes talented newcomers bring to the team as it may in fact be a challenge to their own positions and livelihood.
I find it hard to believe the statement that minimum levels of fitness are to become a prerequisite for selection and can only question why this has not been a baseline criterion for selections in the past?
The attitude and commitment of players was also questioned. I fully approve of this. It happened during my career and that made me more determined; in fact although it annoyed me it also inspired me to do better and prove a point.
All the players are accountable and there are times when everyone in their careers should be challenged and asked to give more to the team instead of just coasting along. The concept of the holy cow in Indian cricket needs to be abolished.
But for me, the biggest and most positive move has come in the attempt to address the whole complicated issues surrounding players' fees, pay cuts, bonuses and endorsements.
This will certainly set the cat among the pigeons and I wonder if the BCCI will be strong enough to maintain this stance since Indian cricket is so closely tied up with the mighty power of corporate finances and sponsorship.
I applaud the guardians of the game in India for the stand they are taking in this most critical area. Although there may be some bumps in the road ahead, if players decide to revolt against this new ruling it will open the way for the injection of youth and this will only be good for the future of the game in this country. And a strong India can only be good for the world of cricket.
- GE Features
The Cup: Complete Coverage
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