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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stepping Down Sans Style

The rigor of captaining the Indian cricket team has had its latest victim.

Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid has declined to lead the side in any version of the game and this coming from a man who is known for his dogged resolve in the face of every possible kind of adversity on the field poses some piercing questions before the avid follower of the game. Speculation mills are working overtime in digging into the real reason behind such a decision, especially after the team won its last test series in England and came back from a position where they were facing a humiliating score-line to make it a fighting 3-4 at the end of the one-day series. Any other person in his place would have taken this feat with glee and walked away with a swagger characteristic of pride and sense of achievement. But not Rahul Dravid.

Being an astute student of the game and arguably one of the most dependable batsmen to have ever graced the cricket field he has seen the writing on the wall before any of us could. Though his batting average in any version of the game, before or during captaincy, remains any batsman’s envy and any bowler’s bane yet, judging by his own high standards he has more than once faltered in the past one year. With only one century against Bangladesh in 2006 it has been a prolonged lean patch for this efficient run-machine. The last few series have been no exception in this script of moderate misery. Stepping down from the hot-seat would give him space and solitude to concentrate on his game and contribute significantly to the score-cards in coming matches. One should take that as a welcome relief than an imminent calamity.

Also, rumors of rival power centers within the team are doing the rounds and our own regionalism is being exploited by newspapers taking names. ‘Tendulkar-camp’ and ‘Ganguly-camp’ are buzzwords in various front-page articles hinting at internal tussle precipitating Dravid’s decision. Intricate conspiracies hatched within the team are being suspected and considering the inconspicuous ways in which the BCCI is managed one wonders if there really is a bigger picture lurking beyond visibility. The ‘million dollar’ question now in front of a billion odd cricket lovers is:

Who will don the captain’s hat now?

Who will take up THE “thankless” job?

Who will risk being the next victim of obsessive media vigilance and constant public attention?

Who will agree to take the bitter brickbats(regularly) and the benign bouquets( occasionally i.e ) and still garner the motivation to lead the team in the next match, knowing fully that his every move is being memorized with an eager zeal for future impeachment and overthrow ?

The names of Sachin, Sourav, Dhoni and Yuvraj are ripe in circulation for the post.

1. Sachin would jeopardize his recent rich vein of form by acceding to the post and its associated worries. History tells us that when at helm his batting looks down the barrel, the team looks in the same direction.

2. Sourav is a viable option. But, then Sharad Pawar would be made to eat humble pie in public by his (re-)appointment and though public memory is short journalists will surely not let bygones be bygones in this case.

3. Dhoni is unsuited for Test cricket and going by his habitual relapse into long periods of struggle with the willow an immediate elevation might receive flak in coming days. Also with a team teeming with seniors, the odds will always weigh him down both on and off the field.

4. Yuvraj has the temperament to lead a one-day side (and the 20-20 team too) with relative ease. But, another man donning the hat in the Test team will be a novelty of sorts in India. Is the BCCI game for such an adventure?

Though judging by the recent trend of (mis-) adventures undertaken by the BCCI (the appointment of Greg Chappel) it might as well take the challenge of renovating its ideas and installing a good, thinking head at the helm, even for that case two different persons captaining two different teams. While doing the necessary on the 18th we only hope that logic reigns supreme in the minds of the part-time administrators of a sport that’s a full-time obsession in this country.