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Why Anurag Thakur is wrong to criticise Sandeep Patil


BCCI chief Anurag Thakur has an opinion on former India chief selector Sandeep Patil.

Thakur termed the erstwhile swashbuckling batsman and coach “unethical” for revealing the deliberations around Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement and MS Dhoni’s continuance as India skipper.

He said:

“Let me make it very clear. Sandeep being a former chairman should not have made these comments. When he was the chairman, he replied differently to the same questions. But after that (his tenure), it was different. It was totally unethical of him to do that.

One should refrain from making such unethical and unwanted comments in this area (selection matters). It is because he has been trusted to become the chairman, because he has played enough cricket. There were four more selectors with him, they did not say anything. He (Patil) should have avoided that.

…Right people in the BCCI will speak to him soon.

…Any organisation, if they hire him (Patil), will think 10 times that after leaving the organisation, he will speak about the organisation.”

Patil appeared to have been disillusioned with his tenure as the chief selector.

He first stated he had lost friends as a selector.

After picking the Indian side for the New Zealand home series, he confessed:

“The only sad thing about being a selector is that you end up losing some of your friends.”

Later speaking to Marathi news channel ‘ABP Majha’, he revealed:

“On December 12, 2012, we met Sachin and asked him about his future plans. He said he did not have retirement on his mind. But the selection committee had reached a consensus on Sachin… and had informed the board too about it. Perhaps Sachin understood what was coming because at the time of the next meeting, Sachin called and said he was retiring (from ODIs). If he had not announced his decision to quit then, we would have definitely dropped him.”

The bearded ex-cricketer contradicted himself on the same channel’s website, saying:

“As long as I remember, it was December 12, 2012, Nagpur. Sachin got out and the selectors decided to meet him and ask him about his wish. I was the one who staged the meet, being the chairman of selectors, and it was purely to understand what was running in his mind. It was a good thing to do. It did not happen in one day, one month or one year, it took two long years. Sachin retired in 2013. The meeting in Nagpur was just to ask his plans. Sachin wanted to concentrate more on Test cricket. So, it was decided that he would retire from One-day cricket. He called me and Sanjay Jagdale (then BCCI secretary). Then it was collectively decided that he would retire from ODIs.”

It was Patil’s disclosures about current ODI and T20 skipper MS Dhoni that set the cat among the pigeons.

“Things didn’t move in our favour, and in that backdrop one of your senior players decided to hang his gloves. That was shocking, but in the end, it was his decision (to retire from Test cricket).

…We, of course, had a brief discussion about it (sacking Dhoni) on few occasions. We wanted to experiment by shifting the baton but we thought the time was not right as the World Cup was fast approaching. New captain should be given some time to set things right. Keeping in mind the World Cup, we chose to go with Dhoni. I believe Virat got the captaincy at the right time and he can lead the team in shorter formats as well. The decision rests with the new selection committee.”

Patil also asserted that Dhoni had no hand in the dropping of either Gautam Gambhir or Yuvraj Singh.

He added:

“I feel disappointed when I read reports about Dhoni’s relation with Gambhir and Yuvraj. Dhoni never opposed their selection.

It was completely the selectors’ decision to drop them and Dhoni did not have any say in dropping Gambhir and Yuvraj. Both the captains never opposed any player.”

While Thakur may be miffed at Patil’s forthrightness to the media soon after quitting the selection panel, he can hardly comment about taking any action against him or on his employment chances in the future in the absence of a non-disclosure agreement with a stated cooling off period of  a year.

Anything more than a year might be excessive. And why should selectors be hog-tied when cricketers, past and present, publish freewheeling accounts of their run-ins with their teammates, coaches, selectors and sections of the media in their multiple best-selling autobiographies.

Are they to be held less accountable?

The BCCI has (rightly) opposed the opening up of selection of the Indian team to public scrutiny (via the RTI act) stating that appointed selectors are more than qualified to do the job and that choosing of the Indian cricket team cannot be done by a majority vote of the public. Would you let public opinion decide what the justices of state and national courts have been appointed for?

There has to be a balance struck. Where do you draw the line?

Should selectors and administrators be continually vilified in the court of public opinion long after their tenures have ended? Are they not to be allowed to state their version of events past? If not to defend themselves,  then to promote transparency and debate. 

National governments have a cut-off period after which classified documents are to be made public for historians and buffs to discover the inner workings of past decisions.

Aren’t public bodies like the BCCI not to provide the same courtesy to the sports loving public of this nation?

 

 

 

Why our sporting heroes don’t deserve biopics


Sports biopics are the flavour of the past few years in Bollywood.

But have they really been worth catching on the big screen?

‘Bhaag, Milkha, Bhaag’ was phenomenal.

And ‘Budhia: Born To Run’ with its almost documentary-like yet moving treatment of the young boy from Orissa who languishes in a sports hostel, still banned from running by the state, was worth a dekko.

But you can’t say much about ‘Azhar’ or, for that matter, ‘Sultan’, a fictional wrestler’s story, that enjoyed blockbuster success at the box office.

I haven’t seen ‘Mary Kom‘ but I’m against the very concept of having a Punjabi actress depict a North-Eastern boxing icon.

Gautam Gambhir stirred a hornet’s nest on Twitter with his remarks criticizing the trend of biographical films on cricketers.

He said:

Given that Neeraj Pandey’s ‘MS  Dhoni: The Untold Story‘ was slated for release in the upcoming weeks, many of Dhoni’s fans questioned Gambhir’s intent and timing.

Was the Delhi cricketer taking a potshot at his former skipper? It is no secret that Gambhir could have been in the running for the captain’s post had his stint in the side continued.

James Erskine’s ‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams‘ is also expected to be in theatres in the near future.

I, for one, saw nothing wrong with the left-hander’s statements.

Successful  cricketers are accorded the status of demi-gods in India. Reams of  traditional and online media are dedicated  to telling and retelling the stories of their humble beginnings.

Gambhir is right that we need to focus on real heroes who have devoted their lives to the country whether it be on the battlefield, social service or business.

Yet, sports other than cricket need heroes to follow and for every successful sportsperson, there are countless others who have tried and given their best—participating or coaching.

Wouldn’t you like to know the story of Ramakant Achrekar?

How about Sakshi Malik’s coach Kuldeep Malik who is yet to receive his cash award of Rs. 5 lacs? He has in his possession a photo-copied cheque instead!

Celebrate India’s successful sporting stars? Yes, do. But don’t forget those  who helped them become great and in the process made  this country greater—in all spheres. 

K L Rahul: Body and tattoos


“My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story.” 

—K L Rahul. 

Sanjay Manjrekar: Vegetarianism


“Yes,  vegetarianism is supposed to be healthy and all that,  but I have seen many fat,  unhealthy vegetarians to know that it is more about eating less and eating healthy,  than being a vegetarian or non-vegetarian.” 

—Sanjay Manjrekar. 

Ravichandran Ashwin: 150% madness


“I am 100 per cent method, 80 per cent skill and 150 per cent madness.” 

—Ravichandran Ashwin. 

Is Lokesh the next Dravid? 


Mohinder Amarnath,  in his latest column,  anointed Lokesh Rahul as the next Rahul Dravid. 

He may be right,  he may be wrong. 

Much earlier,  Cheteshwar Pujara was Dravid’s logical successor. 

Then,  it was Ajinkya Rahane. 

Now,  it’s KL. 

It’s never easy to step into the shoes of colossuses.

I’m sure each of the above would rather be recognised for themselves rather than somebody’s clone. 

And it will take some doing to match Dravid ‘s feats and consistency over a sustained period of time. 

Greatness doesn’t occur overnight. 

In some way,  Dravid seems a little short-changed by these comparisons. 

Is it because his achievements are the result of constant improvement, endeavour,  discipline, technical correctness and correct temperament rather than simply genius, wristiness or off-side godliness? 

No one points to any of the current lot and claim that they’re the next Tendulkar,  Ganguly or Laxman. 

Comparisons are sometimes drawn between Kohli and Tendulkar,  but the Indian test skipper has etched out a stellar place for himself. 

Coming back to the question,  is Lokesh the next Dravid? 

He’s surely  the next Rahul. 

Sanjay Manjrekar: Cribbing


“The world changes for the better when we all crib—cribbing is good.”

—Sanjay Manjrekar.

Sanjay Manjrekar: Lack of customers


“If Test cricket was a shop, it would have been shut down a long time ago for lack of customers.”

—Sanjay Manjrekar.

Imran Khan: Fairy tales


“We grow up with fairy tales,  but in life there is no happily ever after. And if there were,  I would get bored of life. To me,  life is interesting when one is struggling.” 

—Imran Khan,  cricketer and politician. 

Anil Kumble: Surprise selection as Team India Coach


Edited version of original image depicting pop...

Indian cricketer Anil Kumble. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anil Kumble is the newly appointed  Team India coach.

That must be the most important job in the country after the Prime Minister’s, right?

Wrong, dead wrong.

Sanjay Manjrekar , in his column for The Week, describes the job thus:

“’Tell me, who is this guy with the Indian team, is he a player?’

‘No, he does not step onto the field.’

‘Is he a selector, does he pick the players?’

‘No, he does not, the captain and selectors do that.’

‘Okay, then, does he make the critical game-changing decisions on the field, with regard to bowling changes, field setting, batting order, etc?’

‘Nope, that again is done by the captain.’

There you go, that is the actual reality of an Indian coach and his position within the team. Hence the media excitement, every time, around the appointment of an Indian coach, baffles me.

In contrast, when a far more important and influential position outside the players is filled, it’s only duly noted by the media. That is the chief selector’s position.”

This is not to deride or belittle Anil Kumble’s credentials in any way.

Much has been said and written about his stellar cricketing record, his courage facing the West Indian quicks and his mental strength,

Kumble recognises the above reality and claims that he’ll be more of an ‘elder brother’  to the side.

He said:

“I certainly believe that as a coach of a young team, you need to be hands-on and you need to really get your hands dirty as well – train with them, be a part of their training. And be with them more like an elder brother, in every aspect, not just on the field, but also off it. That’s something I will be focusing on.”

Manjrekar concludes his piece thus:

“In Indian cricket, the captain and a couple of senior players basically chart the destiny of the Indian team. The selectors have an important role to play in this journey. If the captain is able, there is nothing wrong with this kind of culture; many great teams have been built like this.

So what an Indian coach really does is facilitate the needs of the captain and the core group and try and keep them in good spirits.

The coaches that actually make a difference to Indian cricket are those that coached players like Tendulkar, Dravid, and others, when they were kids. The grassroots level coaches.”

Kumble made a three-year-plan presentation to the Cricket Advisory Committee but has been appointed for only a year.

Ravi Shastri’s stint as Team Director and the results under his tutelage paved the way for the selection of an Indian coach.

Can Kumble prove as adept as John Wright or Gary Kirsten in handling this young side?

India play 13 Tests at home and his tenure includes the Champions Trophy.

‘Jumbo’ does not have a long rope and there is speculation that he was not an unanimous choice.

Kumble has no formal coaching experience but then neither had Shastri.

That appears to have made the difference since he was not in the initial shortlist.

The CAC selected Kumble—possibly—because he is a much younger candidate and can keep pace with the youngsters in the side. John Wright and Gary Kirsten were not too long retired when they took over the reins of the Indian side.

A younger person can be more hands-on; Kumble certainly believes he can be.

Is hands-on what the job requires? Depends on how you define it. Kirsten felt that it played an important role while he was coach. He used to spend hours bouncing balls at the senior players. His ability to handle fragile super-egos cannot be underestimated.

Kirsten’s right if we are go by what Manjrekar writes. And he is an expert.

Players like Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli prefer to consult their old coaches on  technical aspects of their skills.

Is it less likely that it’s not the same for the current batch of players? Ajinkya Rahane and Robin Uthappa have retained Pravin Amre as their go-to person for improving their willow skills.

It does appear that what a coach brings to the side is intangible but the results are visible and rewarded or penalised with much more alacrity.

Simply put, the coach is the fall guy should anything go wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

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