Thursday, May 20, 2010

The older man syndrome in Indian cricket

I have a theory.
I could be perfectly wrong, but nonetheless it's a theory and theories are meant to be proved otherwise.
Why did Sachin Tendulkar fail as the captain of India?
I wouldn't call him a bad leader. He did quite well in the recently concluded IPL - both as a leader and as a batsman. When he led the Indian side, he led from the front. He scored 1,000 test runs in a calendar year during his first stint, despite critics saying that he was out of form.
He bowled a last over against Australia to secure India a place in the finals of the Titan Cup, thereby saving Robin Singh's career.
I don't blame his captaincy when India lost 3-0 against Australia. Even Wasim Akram, who captained Pakistan quite brilliantly in the series before, fell short.
We keep saying that India and Pakistan played crap. India probably did, but at that time, the Australians were invincible.
So why criticize Tendulkar's captaincy?
The same can be said of Dravid's captaincy.
He started off well, but then Greg Chappell came.
Now, I'm sure that Chappell is a great coach, but he would work for a team like Australia.
For India, it's a big no-no.
My thing about Tendulkar and Dravid's captaincy is that they are ahead of their times, when it comes to Indian cricket.
So was Anil Kumble.
All three players are thorough professionals, but what worked for Kumble that didn't work for Tendulkar and Dravid is that Kumble was the oldest member in the team.
The subcontinent has a tradition of 'respecting their elders.' Kumble was no exception, which is why making him captain late in his career is probably the smartest thing that the BCCI has ever done. Sri Lanka had that with Ranatunga and Pakistan had that with Imran Khan. India had it with Kumble
Had he been captain earlier, he would have never played for India again, had the team done badly.
It's what has happened to Rahul Dravid. And Dravid has always been a bigger role model than Kumble, although I believe that both are in the same slot when it comes to being professional.
During phase I as captain, Sachin was the youngest member in the team and during Phase II, India was a shit team, with players woefully out of form.
When Dravid was captain, he couldn't transfer his professional attitude to the rest of the players. Dravid that way is very Australian in his approach to the game. There is a lot of hard work put in and the results show.
I'm not discrediting MSD's captaincy here, don't get me wrong. Nor am I criticizing Ganguly's type of leadership. Dhoni is street smart, while Ganguly was so self-absorbed that the team doing badly meant that he was doing badly.
It's also the same reason why their team does well.
I'm not going to blame the IPL for India's poor performance. I'm going to blame it on overall lack of discipline
But again, that's the problem with us as a nation as a whole. We're okay with being mediocre. We have a very talented side, but they are inconsistent and not very hard working. Dravid and Kumble were probably less talented than most of the guys in our team, but their hard work and perseverance paid off and they are respected the world over. Vinod Kambli, people say was more talented than Tendulkar, but Tendulkar's hard work paid off. The talent was there, yes. But so was hard work.
It's the same reason why he's been in the team for 20 years and players come and go.
So, like I said in my previous blog post, if India needs to achieve the same level of proficiency and consistency like an Australia, South Africa or New Zealand (I mention NZ because despite them having a shitty side, they are always competitive), the BCCI and the players need to seriously rethink their sole purpose of being involved in the game.

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  1. I agree that India has talented cricketers and the only problem is the lack of consistency.
    If I am given a choice to select a captain for India I would like to choose MS Dhoni.

    I wonder is there a possibility of seeing a better cricketer than Sachin?

    I appreciate this post very much and I loved to read the whole analysis of Indian captains.

    Thank you so much.

  2. Thanks for the comments. A lot of people would choose MS over Sachin after watching the IPL final. If I had a guy to lead India, MS would be the best.
    If Sachin was Australian, I'd think about making him captain