April 28, 1999
What is Gaekwad up to?
The question in my mind -- and I am sure, that in the minds of numerous Indian supporters -- is, what is Anshuman Gaekwad up to?
The Indian team consists of at least 9 proven cricketers, so why don't they win with the kind of consistency displayed by Australia and South Africa? India has proven batsmen in Sachin, Azhar, Saurav, Rahul and Ajay, wicket-taking bowlers in Srinath, Prasad, Kumble and Ajit Agarkar, a class wicket keeper in Nayan Mongia, a good finisher in Robin Singh. So what more do you need to win tournaments?
The team has won matches and tournaments before, but if you see their recent performance in New Zealand, in India against Pakistan and now in Sharjah, you will begin to see problems creeping in. In New Zealand India drew a tournament which they should have won, and against Pakistan in India and in Sharjah their performance left a lot to be desired. If you compare South Africa and India, the Indian team has more great players than South Africa, but in spite of this fact the latter team has performed consistently better than the Indian side.
South Africa has three great players in Gary Kirsten, Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald. It has three promising and upcoming players in Gibbs, Kallis and Klusener. Rhodes has been great fielder, but only recently has he started batting like an international cricketer. But they have two things that make the difference -- the captain, and coach.
Bob Woolmer is always busy preparing notes on opposing team players, he plans out how to bowl to opposing batsmen and how to counter their bowlers, and works in a systematic fashion. Whereas the Indian coach is busy doing nothing but making silly and insane statements.
Cronje is not a great batsman but as a leader, he is inspiring and always works on notes and plans given by the coach. Their movements on the field are always planned, their batsmen know precisely what to do in any situation. In contract, India has great batsmen, but no plan -- they tend to go for individual glory, for the boundaries, without any emphasis on pushing into the gaps and running the singles and twos.
There are numerous instances when the Indian team is chasing and the asking rate is say 5.2. In the first four balls of the over, they score eight, ten runs -- and when one think they would throttle back, having done what was expected, they go for a rash shot and get out. This smacks of lack of proper thinking, planning.
Running between wickets has always been a problem for India. However, Indian coaches proved unequal to the task of teaching the guys how to do it. So they roped in Simpson, and he had a camp. I have been watching the team after the camp, but I can't spot any improvement in this area, can you?
It all leads up to the question I asked at the outset -- what on earth is Anshuman Gaekwad doing?
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