Jan 13, 2007

In Attack of Sehwag

1 comment:

Harish Kumar said...

With Sehwag, it is very tough on the selectors and the team think tank. It is clear that he is going through a rut and taking him is risking a passenger. If you go by talent/ability, do you have anyone in such form that he can stake a place in the team ahead of Sehwag - no. If they drop him and don't win the WC (there will be a post mortem after 'a' defeat - it doesn't matter whether we have lost in the finals or the preliminary rounds - we will have a post mortem and heads *will* roll), everyone will say Sehwag would have made a difference, especially because he did so well in the recent ODI series there. Sadly, selections in India are also governed by national sentiment and they do take into account if the local MP from Delhi is going on an indefinite fast protest against the exclusion of Sehwag from the WC team. The biggest factor here is that no one - including Vengsarkar, Chappell and Dravid can say for sure that Sehwag will *not* click in the WC. So, it is an out-and-out catch-22 situation.
If I were the captain, I'd say I'm ready to take a risk in every game with Sehwag because he can win matches for me. But if I am taking Sehwag, I need my Kaifs,Laxmans, Dravids and Tendulkars to play like a Hussey if required. I cannot have everyone going for shots like millionaires and then claim that it is their natural game. In the case of Dravid - technically correct (in other words a strike rate of less than 40).Our team needs to comprise of 11 roles and we then need to fill up those slots with individuals who have the ability and back them. We end up picking individuals and try to accommodate them in the team. That's where we fail.
Just look at the line-up of the Sri Lankan team in 1996. They had two out and out hitters in the opening slots, Gurusinha could be ugly yet effective, de Silva the silken murderer, Ranatunga the manipulator in overs 30-45. I forget the other batsmen in the middle order. Then, they had Mahanama whose role was to shore up the team if all the stroke makers fail collectively in a single match, which can happen. Though he was bitter about it, it was brilliant thinking on the part of Ranatunga. And then you had Vaas to hit out in the final overs anyways.So, everyone had a defined role. The same is true with the Pakistan team that won in 1992.
We, end up picking players because they are in form. And players like Kaif never get appreciated for his 30 runs off his 25 runs. I don't say he is the best in that role in the world but he knows that he will get dropped unless he puts numbers on the board. Every bowler wants to take wickets off every ball. This is not restricted to the national team. That's how our regional players get selected. There are so many matches being played all over that the selectors at every level can only look at the brief scores for most matches and then need to take a call.The contribution to the team is not measurable in these brief scores and hence the good players look at individual scores and don't worry about the team winning. The mindset is missing.
It is a similar malaise that afflicts the football scene as well. Only the goal-scorers get noticed. Everyone *cannot* score a goal. Remember the dialogue by Utpal Datt to Anil Kapoor in Saheb - goalkeepers are unknowns. This has slowly but surely affected our hockey too which explains why our players tend to hold on to the ball longer and then get dispossessed.
In a nutshell, we struggle as teams - whether it is sport or anything else. And, for me the root cause is the unmanageable population. But the natural industriousness and sincerity of Indians, especially the middle class can be a brilliant aid for individual sports like Tennis, chess and Squash. You can see the results.
This comment has become long enough to be put up on my blog as a post. Indians - numbers - whether it is people or words. :-)