Introspection time for Team India

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Thursday, April 28, 2005, 20:16 [IST]
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Bangalore: Now that the dust has settled it's introspection time for Team India. After a year of highs, it has been relatively a year of lows for India. When Pakistan team lead by Inzamam crossed the Wagah border, it was supposed to the weakest (at least on paper) team ever to have toured India. Now, as Inzamam and his refurbished pack of tigers returned home, to a rousing reception, ironically, it is his Indian counterpart who has a lot to ponder.

At a time when Ganguly himself is living on borrowed time, it is that stage when decisions have to be made with utter disdain for sentiments. Infact, its time for a dual change at the top with what the post of the coach also following vacant following the departure of John Wright.

India is lucky in one sense that they don't have any major assignments either at home or abroad in the imminent future. The team has enough time to recharge their batteries, as the tri-series in Sri Lanka, featuring West Indies and the host nation, is a good three-month away.

Once the process of selecting a new coach is done with, the high echelons of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should set in motion the process of selecting a new captain too. Time is ripe for a change at the top. Now that curtains have come to the Wright-Ganguly combo, situation is tailor made for a new coach-captain duo to come in.

Ganguly's torrid time with the bat might force him to renounce his captaincy. He could continue as a specialist batsman in the team. We all know that he has what it takes to make a comeback. He would want to take a cue from his more illustrious Caribbean counterpart Brian Lara, who was forced to relinquish captaincy under different circumstances, but is taking batting to an exalted zone.

With poor-run continuing for so long, Ganguly would not be in a position to give India a new direction. If he continues to hang on to captaincy, I'm afraid that we might lose a talented batsman forever. The best possible solution for him is to shed the burden of captaincy and concentrate more on batting to regain the lost ground on the off-side, where he ruled like a true Maharaja on his heydays.

Now that leaves with the vexed issue of as to who will succeed him. Given his prodigal ways, it would be too early to burden Virendar Sehwag with the mantle of captaincy, while Mohd Kaif's uncertain presence in the longer version of the game rules him out of the contention. That leaves us with the obvious choice - Rahul Dravid. Having served as Ganguly's deputy, Dravid has filled in whenever it was required. He has it in him to captain the side for a long-term.

As far as Ganguly is considered, it is still not the end of the road for him. In ODIs, Ganguly is still a force to reckon with. It's just that he is going through a bad phase in his career, whereby he is not in a position to call the shots and motivate his team. Infact, the six-match ban by ICC could be a blessing in disguise for him.

And coming to the question of as to who will succeed John Wright as next Indian coach, his successor should be someone who could match the lofty standards that John has set. In a recent interview to ThatsCricket.Com, the Board of control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary S K Nair had categorically stated that the new coach would be upto the challenge.

It is pertinent to note in this context that only lesser-known mortals have flourished in the Indian scenario. Even Kapil Dev failed in the role of coach. Though Greg Chappell has good coaching credentials, it has to be seen as to how much he can fit into the Indian scheme of things where one needs to do a delicate balancing act to keep the 'heavyweights' and the rest in good stead.

It is here that someone like Tom Moody could prove useful. With age in his side, he could inculcate a new work culture; it's worth noting that wealth of experience alone doesn't guarantee success. Moreover, successful cricketers might not be successful coaches. Who knows, Moody might become next Wright!

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