Straight Talk from Bhajji

Harbhajan Singh completes a decade of being on the International Circuit. Congratulations for that.

On an interview with Rediff.com, he was asked, among other things, what some of the toughest periods were in his career. Finding a prime place on that list, is “when Greg Chappell was the coach of the Indian team. The two years that he was the coach was probably the toughest, not only for me but for Indian cricket overall.

Hm. The last time he said something of this sort, during the thick of action, he received a reprimand and gave a public apology.

I wonder how BCCI will react now, considering Mr Chappell is still involved with Indian Cricket.

Setting new standards…

Mr Greg Chappell, congratulations: you’ve set yourself another standard.

After not knowing for two years how to behave with individuals, and sparking protests about your media interviews, you have shown once again what your attitude, and your sense of aesthetics, are.

Referring to this recent media report, and assuming you did say what you have been quoted as saying (knowing you, you wouldn’t miss the first opportunity to have a mic in front of your face, and say what-not about anyone and everyone; please forgive me if this was one of the exceptions that invariably prove the rule), I am appalled. Um… actually, no, I am not appalled. If this isn’t the quintessential you, then what is??

You’ve been coach of the Indian team; shouldn’t you know better than to speculate about their strengths and weaknesses? I’d have thought that it came under the most basic forms of courtesy to not undermine those you’ve worked with… and in fact might still be working with, considering you are still involved with the BCCI in an advisory role.

Sure, you are within your rights to talk of what people were like when you were in charge… but the point is you’re not in charge now; what exactly do you know of present state of things?? Have you, for example noticed something? Since you left, some of the people you had left out (with a golden mention of you-know-who) have come back and dominated, some of the people who were there in your team are back to performing as they were before you had arrived, and those you brought in, are, well… where exactly are they??

Do you even realize that anyone with the first idea about the world of cricket only give you a mocking smile when they read your take on Indian Cricket? I wonder why you agree to such pointless interviews… you know, better than anyone, how unpredictable cricket can be; indeed it was you who helped Sourav Ganguly with his technique before his magnificent 144 at Brisbane and when he was flooded with questions about chin-music!

Is it because the weight of your pocket increases with every such interview?? If that is so, Mr Chappell, it would explain why you felt at one point that finances are the first and major consideration of a certain Indian batting Great… after all, we tend to judge others based on our own way of thinking, don’t we??

India’s World Cup Debacle…

Well, India are out of the prestigious Cricket World Cup.As is the norm with the Indian mentality, the knives are out, Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid are sure to lose their posts (at least, they will, if the media have their way!!), and once more India does not know which way the future lies.

But before that, there are certain issues here. Greg Chappell, it seems, is not very intent on taking too much responsibility for these losses: his reasoning seems to be that India did not field the side that he had been advocating all along!! Suresh Raina, it seems, simply had to be there… Well, for one, how many players did he not get as he wanted? Suresh Raina he wanted, he did not get. Virender Sehwag he did not want, but did get. Sourav Ganguly… well, let’s just say he was a compromise.

But, now, just have a look at the stats… Sourav Ganguly has been one of the few batting mainstays in the Indian line-up since his return. Even in the World Cup, he got scores in two games out of three. Virender Sehwag got in only on the insistence of Rahul Dravid… and got scores in two of the three innings. And surely, even the best in the world can very well get out to a Murali doosra??

And what, pray, did the other ‘deserving’ players do?? Yes, the ones that Greg Chappell was proud to have in his team… the Sachins, the Yuvrajs, the Dhonis, and yes, the Dravids? It was on these batting mainstays that all of Greg Chappell’s methods were tried and tested, all the processes put into place, all the flexibility in the batting order discussed, all the military mode fitness exercises practised. And all this, for what??

And then there’s the question of strategy. Why was Robin Uthappa chosen? Probably because Veeru Sehwag’s form was in question. However, the question was never one of whether Sehwag can bat; we all know he can very well bat; it was rather a question of him feeling good about his batting, and the ball hitting the middle of his broad bat. Well, when Sehwag seemed to be back in his elements after the Bermuda match, why not open with Sehwag? You have a certain Irfan Pathan in your squad, who can bat as well as he can bowl, and who has benefitted the most perhaps from Guru Greg’s lessons; why not play him at seven, instead of Uthappa at the top? It’s not that Uthappa left a blazing trail in the earlier matches! You have a certain Sreesanth in your ranks, who is perhaps one of the best finds of recent times. When Ajit Agarkar does not seem to be in touch, why not bring the energetic young man into the squad? And then there is someone called Dinesh Kaarthick, one of the most promising prospects, according to Greg, waiting in the wings; why not give him a game? You have, in Sourav Ganguly, one of the best opening batsmen of all time, someone known for his clean hitting. Why ask him to hold his wicket and play the long innings, when you know that he can very well tear any opposition apart, and yet play plenty of long innings??

I seem to remember Greg saying before leaving for the WI that ‘current form’ in the West Indies would decide the playing XIs. Well, current form in the Bangladesh and Bermuda matches suggested a lot… why weren’t they incorporated? Who takes responsibility for that?

Mr Chappell indicated to a certain member of the media, that he was not happy with the squad to the World Cup. This was during the Sri Lanka series, which preceded the trip to WI. Well, could it have been the case that since he did not have the squad that he believed would do well, he was convinced that India would in fact not do well??

Questions, question, questions… where are the answers? Does a major change of guard, such as changing the captain and the coach, provide all, or even any, of the answers?