Sunday, March 29, 2009

Captaincy In Rotational Motion!

Another Aussie coach has crossed swords with Sourav Ganguly. Four years ago, Greg chappell, the then coach of Indian Cricket team, had it his way to get Ganguly removed from captaincy. Now it is John Buchanan who doesn't want Sourav as the sole captain of Kolkatta Knight Riders outfit for the second version of IPL scheduled to start a few weeks later. Buchanan has floated the idea of rotating the role of captaincy amongst Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge and Sourav Ganguly. Thanks God, Ricky Ponting has sought to give IPL a skip. Otherwise he would have been the fifth KKR Captain!

Ironically, both Chapell and Buchanan were Ganguly's preferred choices. Ganguly was at the height of his powers when he backed Chappell's nomination for the post of coach of Indian team. But their relationship turned sour and eventually first Sourav and then Greg had to leave the scene. Last year SRK bought the KKR team of which Ganguly was the icon player. He was also main advisor to ShahRukh in team selection and drafting in Buchanan as side's coach. Buchnaan too, like Chappell, has now sought to undermine Dada's authority.

John Buchanan has been a successful coach of all conquering Australian side. But it remains to be seen what his contribution was to the team's success. The Australian team, consisting of Waugh brothers, world's top bowlers in McGrath and Warne, all time batting greats like Ponting and Hayden would have swept aside most teams any way, even if Javed Miandad was team's Coach! On the contrary, Warne's displeasure about his coaching techniques are well known. His coachng skills deserted him when the team faced spirited challenges, from India in 2001 and from England in Ashes series in 2005.

Buchanan cites the example of Ric Charlesworth, who is said to have used the principle of multiple leaders while coaching Australian Hockey team. It must be noted that role of Captain in sports like Football or Hockey is limited and the role of the coach is prominent. In Cricket it is exactly opposite. Other successful Cricket Coaches like Bob Woolmer , John Wright and Gary Kirsten have quietly worked in the background and let the respective captains, Hansie Cronje Ganguly and MS Dhoni to hog the limelight. Buchanan here is trying to steal the limelight from an equally dominant personality, Dada. The clash of personalities might prove costly to KKR team owners.

Dada or Buchanan - it remains to be seen who relents. Ganguly is clearly in no mood to do so, as his recent remarks reveal. If john goes ahead with his experiment, thankfully the tournament is in South Africa. Otherwise he would have had a torrid time facing the ire of Cricket Crazy Kolkattan public.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

IPL - Indian Political League?

In spite of being a huge blockbuster last year, second edition of IPL appears to be rocked by troubled waters. IPL, the brainchild of Lalit Modi became superhit last year. Its stupendous success made Modi one of the most influential personalities in international Cricket. But, by the turn of the year, events took a dramatic turn. As the BJP led government in Rajasthan, which backed Lalit Modi to hilt, fell in the elections a few months ago, things started to become nasty for him. Having lost the RCA elections, Modi has now become desperate to stage this year's IPL edition and re-establish his authority. But the other league, Indian Political League is increasingly overshadowing the original IPL!

Both the IPLs have a few 'players' in common. Police, Public and Politicians . Police appears to be a confused lot. With the terrorists striking almost at will, the police must be wising the IPL does not get underway. With the general elections clashing with IPL schedule, obviously the security officials don't want additional burden. Indian public is Cricket crazy, no doubt. But now that the myth that the terrorists wont disrupt Cricket in the subcontinent busted by the attack on Sri Lankan Cricketers in Lahore, the public is certainly apprehensive.

For the politicians who run Cricket in India, this is the crunch time. Obviously, elections is their first priority, Cricket can wait. For Sharad Pawar it is a now-or-never battle as far as realising his long standing dream of being prime minister of the country is concerned. He's already attracting criticism for neglecting his ministry at the expense of BCCI. That's why he doesn't appear to be wholeheartedly behind Lalit Modi. Other Cricketing Politicians like Jaitley also are too busy in electioneering to think of IPL.

Overseas players, the main attraction of last year's IPL are reluctant to participate. Ponting has already withdrawn. Injury hit Flintoff is uncertain. Despite being appointed as Captain of Bangalore team, Kevin Pieterson's participation is doubtful. Lot of Aussie and Kiwi Cricketers too have expressed their concerns. IPL therefore, if conducted this year might well be without many of these stars.

all in all Lalit Modi's cup seem to be full of woes. Terror attacks, global recession, top stars' withdrawal. Everything has come at the same time. May be it is another Modi (Narendra Modi) who hogs the limelight this year - on the Election grounds of the Indian Political League!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

India Beats Australia Yet Again - In World Cup For the First Time!

Australian Cricketers these days seem to find it difficult to handle the Indian Cricket flavour. A few days ago, Dhoni and his men gave a serious jolt to Australian supremacy as Ponting's team was squarely beaten in the Test series. Indian eves too have picked up cue from their male counterparts. In the Women's Cricket World cup, now on in Australia, Indian team today stunned the defending champion Australian team. Indian team has thus avenged its loss in the finals at the last world cup in 2005. While Australia's chances of retaining the title are almost over, Indian team led by Zulan Goswami is certainly on course to be second time lucky.

The whole of India is Cricket crazy. Cricketers enjoy a huge fan following. They are equally popular, if not more than politicians and Cine stars. There is a tremendous media coverage to Cricket. But strangely, none of the popularity or media attention has come to women's Cricket. Even a common Cricket fan in India knows lot about the teams, players, the statistics and the technicalities of the game. But he hardly cares for Women's Cricket and women cricketers. With live coverage of matches, Cricket has intruded the drawing rooms of Indian homes. Hence many girls and even housewives keep an updated knowledge of Cricket world. But even the female fans pay little attention to ladies Cricket.

It is not that the Indian women are push overs in international Cricket. Former captains, Diana Edulji and Shubhangi Kulkarni were highly regarded for their Cricketing skills even by their male counterparts. Over the years Indian women Cricket has thrown many talented players like Shanta Rangaswamy, Sandhya Agarwal, Mitali Jain, Anjum Chopra, to name a few. Indian team has done consistently well against top teams, Australia, England and New Zealand. Current captain Zulan Goswami was adjudged as Cricket of the Year in 2008. Anjum Chopra, having the distinction of appearing in four world cup tournaments - a feat comparable to Sachin Tendulkar - is a well known face on TV commentators' panel putting across her observations alomg with the likes of Srikanth, Mohinder an others.

In spite of all these credentials, women's Cricket in India is very much neglected. Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, PT Usha these sportswomen enjoy more popularity than the female Cricketers. Ironically, this is exactly opposite to what happens in case of men, where other players complain of being given scant respect compared to men's Cricket. Things have changed slightly for the better in last couple of years since ICC has taken over women's Cricket, and in India too, BCCI looks after women's Cricket. Which means more sponsorships, more exposure, better remuneration to players. Hopefully it will result in increase in spectator interest in women Cricket. Indian team is certainly in semi finals now. Hopefully a tall and athletic Zulan Goswami wins first world cup for India, much the same way Kapil Dev did in 1983, and Women's Cricket might get a surge in popularity - much the same way men's Cricket got after the world cup victory!

Monday, March 2, 2009

High-Flying Lalit Modi Falls on His Face

In India, Cricket is always in the news. Sometimes for on-field incidences, but more often for off the field events. Lalit Modi's crushing defeat in Rajasthan Cricket Association's elections is the front-page news today everywhere in the media. Not so long ago, Jagmohan Daalmiya was ousted from BCCI and we saw acrimonious rounds of allegaions and counter-allegations and long drawn legal battles. The same is likely to follow as Modi has been thrown out of his state Association.

Cricket in India is a heady mix of politics, 'paisa', passion and personalities. Jagmohan Dalmiya was te first businessman to 'paisa' out of people's passion for Cricket. The same lured Sharad Pawar into Cricket Politics. But it was, and still is, Lalit Modi who masterminded the IPL and virtually ruled th international Cricket world for the last year or so. He had been having everything his way, be it bringing the other boards to his feet, or getting ICC to accomodate IPL and champion League ( although it had to be put off ) in the calender. The hgh-flying Modi has suddenly been bearded in his own den.

where does Lalit Modi go from here? Will he resign from the post of IPL ccommisioner? Well, like a true politician he won't! But I have afeeling that, Sharad Pawar, a seasoned player in political battleground will slowly bring about Modi's ouster from BCCI and IPL.

Meanwhile, Cricket will continue to flourish in India. Incredible obsession about Cricket among the public will be continued to be exploited by, well somebody or the other. Earlier it was Dalmiya, now Lalit Modi, tomorrow, somebody else, may be Lalu Prasad Yadav! Afterall he is better known as self styled Management guru more than as a politician. Lalu Yadav aspires to be country's Prime minister one day. He may well settle for the second best option as Sharad Pawar did - President of BCCI!
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