Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bring Dada back

Now that the abject surrender of the Indian cricket team at the hands of the English is complete, it's slowly sinking in as to the depths to which our team has sunk. It just reiterates my belief that this team fundamentally and gradually lost all stomach for a fight, first with the retirements of Saurav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, and then the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

Performances of each and every player do need to be considered, but a succeessful team isn't just a sum total of all individual performances. The conduct, intent and willingness of the players matters just as much, if not more. Why else do we see a battle-hardened swagger in the Proteas now? Or the mighty Australians of a few years back? It's in their face, in the way the conduct themselves on the field. The determination manifests itself into every seemingly pointless dive at every half-chance of a catch or a couple of runs to be saved at the boundary. Sadly, this is missing in the current Indian cricket team as a whole.

With the kind of megastars our team had at the turn of the millennium, we needed a coach who would take a backseat and quietly control things. Someone who could handle the players' massive egos. In John Wright and Gary Kirsten, we found such coaches. We all know what happened to the team with an outspoken authoritarian like Greg Chappell.

You may call this benefit of hindsight, but when Duncan Fletcher was appointed as the coach, I literally had my head in my hands. Fletcher is too mild-mannered. It is plain to see that he does not inspire any sort of confidence in the players. Add to that an increasingly inexpressive MS Dhoni and we have an equally clueless team and a watershed on our hands to boot. I don't even want to talk about Dhoni's appalling statements in the media.

Ganguly, Kumble, Laxman and Dravid have retired. Tendulkar, Sehwag and Dhoni will soon follow suit. The team will have to deal with a Grand Canyon-esque sized hole in the experience department. The likes of Kohli and Pujara will most likely be the torchbearers for the coming generation of Indian cricket. At such a time, we need an influential coach. Someone who can put some belief back into this team and inspire newer and better Kumbles, Laxmans, Gangulys and Dravids. Who better than Sourav Ganguly to do that?

By no means is this a sure-fire quick-fix to our team's fortunes. There are many more factors that have lead to probably the darkest hour in Indian cricket, not the least of which are the IPL and a rotting domestic league. However, every sustained bear run in the stock market has a turning point. The point where the luckiest and the wisest invest heavily, with the index at its lowest ebb. So now can we please sack Duncan Fletcher and get in Sourav Ganguly as coach?