Not So Sunny Side

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Bishan Singh Bedi took the words out of my mouth when he expressed his thoughts on Ex-Cricketer, Sunil Gavaskar, "Cricket circles had immense and blind respect for him [as a cricketer] and he successfully used this to ensure that board officials remained in awe of him." I have always wondered why the cricketing fraternity sets so much store by everything that Sunil Gavaskar has to say when it comes to running the game in our country. Sure, there are thousands who still sing his praises but there will be detractors, like myself, who feel that this one-time star cricketer is given undue respect!

Lets take the latest episode that involved Mr. Gavaskar, that of the appointment of the cricket coach for the national cricket team. Dav Whatmore, the erstwhile coach of the Sri Lankan cricket team, and more recently, coach of Bangladesh seemed to be the most appropriate candidate to coach and manage the Indian cricket team. But he was suddenly deleted from the scheme of things with one stroke, because one whimsical ex-cricketer did not think much of him. As a cricket lover my instant reaction was, "Who the hell is Sunil Gavaskar to decide?!" Mr Bedi, rightly pointed out, that over the years, and even when Gavaskar was captain of the team, one thing came out clear, that he wanted all the power but would not be held accountable. Selfishness is the name of the game where Gavaskar is concerned. And arrogance has become his second name.

One has had the opportunity of working with the man, and in the years spent with him as the commentator for a certain sports channel, it was clear that the man had his hang ups and issues. For instance he did not like the fact that Non cricketers commented on cricket. But you must hand it to him that he is quick to accept those who prove themselves. On tour he did not have the unbearable concerns that SirBoycott had, but he was treated as royalty and now looking back, he seemed to lap it all. Ofcourse as a producer, there was utmost respect for the man and his contribution to the game. Even though he was not the best at expressing his thoughts on the game, he was still an icon for the country. He still is! Theres no denying that, but always, in whatever he did the shadow of selfish achievements clouded this 'Sunny' character.

Perhaps this has gotten worse over the years, and his balance of how to handle things, has gone badly out of control. But there is no excuse for those in power to irrationally accept everything that Mr. Gavaskar has to say. They should question themselves and ask, how would this help Indian Cricket? Is this notion in itself utopian? One hopes and feels that no, there are some practical voices who will speak up, even if it has to be the players! Frankly, they are the ones who should have the largest part in approving a coaching candidate. One surmises that Graham Ford got the nod ahead of John Emburey, because the players protested. Or else left to Sunil Gavaskar, his choice would have become the coach for the team, with no real success story to support him.

The popular belief is that South African, Graham Ford backed out, because the tenure was too short, or because he was not allowed to bring his own support staff. But could the lesser known reason be, that he was not looking forward to dealing with all the politics and the constant interference from the likes of Mr. Gavaskar? Some questions will remain unanswered.

For now the cricket team has to live by what they get. Skipper Rahul Dravid, the diplomat that he is, said that they were happy with what they have or something to that effect. So, the appointment of Chandu Borde is taken in ones stride. The search for the man to guide the team continues, and ironically the more complex neighbouring country Pakistan, have got their coaching act together!!

As they say, cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and what goes on off the field is even more complex! But the current administration of cricket in the country should wake up to that fact that Sunil Gavaskar is not someone who decides what works in our system. For if Bishan Singh Bedi is to be believed, Gavaskar, the one time director of the National Cricket Academy, said at a team meeting - 'The day I stop thinking of money, I will stagnate.

Need one say more!!


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