The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), represented by president Dr A C Muthiah and secretary Jayawant Lele, and Phoenix Global Solutions, represented by managing director Satish Bangalore and his technical team, signed the formal documents sealing another "big" chapter in the history of Indian cricket.
The feeling one immediately got was that the BCCI, known for its hiberation (the BCCI does not have a website of its own till date), had taken a giant leap by opting for an IT solution to the woes of the cricketers. It is true that Bob Woolmer, the former South African coach, revolutionised cricket with his laptop.
Woolmer could have been credited with another first if disgraced South African captain Hansie Cronje had been allowed to use the ear phone during the World Cup 1999. The cricket oficianados came down heavily on this "new gimmick", which would have allowed Cronje to get onfield instructions from his coach.
The laptop, however, came to stay and even many 'A' teams like the West Indians carried one around during their tours. Indian cricketers, however, did not have any such sophisticated aids in their campaigns and there was a constant media hype on how the BCCI needed to engage hi tech coaches for the development of the game.
The BCCI took a few bold decisions last year including the appointment of former New Zealand cricketer and well know coach John Wright as coach, as well intending for a cricket software to analyse the games of the players. The second decision led to the evolution of e - cricket pro with the active involvement of Javagal Srinath with equal support from Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid.
The software, based on video inputs, helps a player to analyse his game. The player can also analyse two performances in two different matches using the split screen technology. But, how well can the "new tool", as the software was repeatedly referred to during its launch, help the betterment of Indian cricket is indeed a moot point.
Though not wanting to sound cynical at the very outset, the performance enhancement once again appears to be vested with the players themselves even after using the software. New coach John Wright and Phoenix Global Solutions (the software developers) managing director Satish Bangalore sounded a note of caution during the launch on Tuesday.
John Wright very subtly said, "Unfortunately, it cannot play cricket for us." This gives the message loud and clear the software can at best point out situations from which cricketers can learn their lessons - provided they are willing to. Wright also made a shrewd comment when he said, "International cricketers are their own best coaches."
The former New Zealander is also perhaps sending a clear message to the Board that he would be absolved of any guilt, if the new software came a cropper in the Indian context. Though the Board and Phoenix refuse to divulge the financial implications, it is obvious that the package must have cost the cricket authority quite a fortune.
Phoenix MD Satish Bangalore said that the tool was one of the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. "Success is a big jigsaw and we are providing one of the pieces to the clue," he clearly said.
Under the circumstances, the ball once again appears to be in the players' court. Will the Indian players rise to the occasion and make the best of the new opportunity? Will the Board pick the right players and allow them to use this new tool? Questions and more questions as ever with the BCCI. But, only time can answer these questions.
The BCCI, however, seems to target the 2003 World Cup as the cut off period by when the Indian cricketers are expected to have mastered not only their skills, but also the new software. World Cup 2003, indeed a step in the right direction. Will the BCCI similarly think of selecting a team to prepare for the World Cup 2003 or continue the chop and churn tactics?