First thing we need to truly understand is, cricket truly is a religion in India. Nothing arouses passions of a vast majority in this great nation, the way cricket does. With this fact in mind, we have to realize that cricket is the only sport that generates millions of dollars in India and thanks to India globally.
So much so that Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is more than proud to repeatedly declare the simple truth. That we are the richest! With an overwhelming support for the game and over flowing coffers, one would assume all the grounds where international cricket is played in India would be the very best in the world. The grass would be lush green as in Melbourne or Lord's and the facilities given to the poor paying spectator, (who makes the show go on), would be as good at least as a spectator visiting a game between Lancashire and Hampshire gets at the Rosebowl. Perish the thought!
Visiting a urinal in most cricket grounds in India can make one a potential kabaddi champion as within no time one masters the yogic art of controlling his breathing for 3 minutes and more! Ofcourse one can not carry eatables inside a stadium in India for 'security reasons', so is forced to survive the heat, dust, smells, sweat on a couple of smelly, oily and grossly overpriced 'bread pakoras' or 'samosas' on offer.
Needless to say our former as well as present stalwarts are least bothered by the plight of common spectator on the ground. Sitting in the cozy comfort of pavilion, naturally their nationalism too goes for a toss. Surely someone would have said otherwise that he wishes to boycott watching cricket in India until spectators get facilities which are at par with the standards at MCG, SCG, Lord's, or Headingly.
After all with so much money in reserves it is not too much to ask for! But no sir! This is not important. What is important to them is how can a former Indian player not be the coach of the Indian team and why should we hire a coach from abroad and spend 'so much money' on an 'outsider'. The coach from abroad may be actually a qualified coach who has proven credentials, totally in sync with demands of today's game, media savvy and a tough task master. But that is not enough to impress them. They merely want someone who is an Indian and has played for India.
For argument's sake, let us say you want to have coaches like Mohinder Amarnath, Venkatesh Prasad, Sandhu etc......fine! No problem! But before you give them charge of the Indian team, can you please consider advocating giving them a coaching assignment of two years at-least with a major Ranji Trophy team and then make up your mind whether they made any significant difference as a coach or not?
What is the ground reality? Mohinder Amarnath was hired as a coach by Bangladesh for a long term contract almost five years ago. The performance of team under him was so bad that he was fired much before his contract was to expire. Bangladesh went in for Dav Whatmore and the difference was immediately noticeable.
For a brief period Mohinder was coach of Rajasthan team and did nothing of note there too. So how can a man who has hardly distinguished himself as a coach ever, be given the major task of coaching the Indian team? That too when we know that World Cup is to be played in 2007!
How much difference a good coach can make was made evident when last season, Punjab hired Pakistan's Intikhab Alam as their coach. Punjab went on to top their elite group, knocked out Mumbai in the semifinals and only lost the final to Railways because all their major players like Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Dinesh Mongia were not available for the Ranji Trophy final as they were playing for India against Pakistan. That BCCI does not have people interested or capable of properly scheduling even the final of most important domestic competition is another unfortunate story and perhaps best left for another column!
We have very good domestic teams in Mumbai, Tamilnadu, Punjab, Railways, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bengal, Baroda and Karnataka. If you look at these teams, any of these is good enough to make it to the semi-finals of Ranji Trophy. The BCCI should shortlist players who have the potential in them to coach the Indian team and first hire the short-listed candidates to coach one of these teams and prove it that they can make a perceptible change.
Just imagine our major domestic teams being coached by former stalwarts. The line up could read something like:
Madan Lal-Delhi; Mohinder Amarnath- Railways; Ashok Malhotra-Bengal; Anshuman Gaekwad-Baroda; Srinath- Karnataka; Sandeepp Patil- Mumbai; Robin Singh- Hyderabad; and K Srikkanth- Tamilnadu.
The above is just for an example but the idea is, if coaches are appointed for 2-3 year terms like this, it would instill competition even amongst coaches and after two-three years, we really will be able to say with confidence that this is the coach capable of delivering goods for team India.
1 Logically speaking, if Australians and South Africans can be hired by India, Srilanka and Pakistan and if our own coaches are equally good, then they to should be hired by foreign teams. But the question is, are they really as good?
2 It is difficult to imagine Punjab going in for a change of coach after their phenomenal success last season. Neither for that matter, would Railways as Railways truly are the team that really proves time and again that others may have the individual stars, but it is Railways that has the team that clicks together........under a very low profile coach!
3 If our former stars are not concerned about the plight of poor fans on Indian cricket grounds, then the least they can do is to sit quiet and let the selection committee appoint the best possible candidate as India's next coach.