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    September 27, 2005

    Iconoclast, eccentric or visionary?

    Today's meeting convened by the BCCI to talk to Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell in the light of the events of the last week is under a cloud. Ganguly's grandfather passed away while Sunil Gavaskar, one of the members of the panel, may not make it because his father is unwell.

    Even as members of the cricketing community in India, administrators and players, cast aspersions on either of the protagonists in this whole drama, it is perhaps telling that the players are themselves divided over the issue. While Harbhajan's outburst was typical of the man, several others are content to voice their views while remaining unnamed.

    Players' complaints about Greg Chappell centre around his apparently abrasive way of talking, functioning and the strict standards he has set. Chappell, either because he cares for Indian cricket or because he wants his resume to look nice, has an agenda, "a commitment to excellence". Those who picked him as India's coach, and indeed those who publicly backed him, obviously bought in to his vision and agenda for change.

    While Chappell's move to ask Ganguly to step aside on the eve of a test match is certainly questionable, what cannot be questioned or termed "over the top" is his intent at getting this lot to improve, by leaps and bounds.

    Chappell's email to the BCCI office-bearers, aside from a non-office bearer in Jagmohan Dalmiya, was either leaked to the media by him or by one of the recipients. Now he is either public enemy number one, or public hero number one. While tags of that nature are ephemeral, we ought to now wonder if Greg Chappell is the iconoclast who dares to think of perestroika. Is he the eccentric determined to think differently and shake Indian cricket by the roots? Today's eccentric could end up becoming tomorrow's visionary. But for that to happen, there must be results. Thomas Alva Edison was an eccentric, but he was more importantly a visionary because he was able to make his inventions and thinking work and change our lives, for the better.

    Even as the BCCI fights battles with itself, and with the judiciary, on a simple matter such as holding an election, you can't help feeling for both Chappell and Ganguly. Ganguly's abrasive methods of working, in the early part of his career, rubbed several people the wrong way. He was actually partially successful at reviving Indian cricket from the lows of the match-fixing scandal. His unflinching support of youth, and the mistakes they made, made him the darling of his teammates, and indeed most followers of Indian cricket. But that was only as long as the results were there to be shown. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Ganguly's slide as a batsman coincided with the Indian team's downhill descent from the heights of the 2003 World Cup. Perhaps it was vice-versa.

    Should Indian cricket pick one over the other? Or will there be a temporary truce wherein Chappell stays and Ganguly is given a deadline to shape up or be shipped out? If indeed one of them went, then would it hurt Indian cricket? If Chappell was asked to leave, how would it reflect on the functioning of the team and the administrators? Would anyone else offer to coach the team, knowing well that he could meet the same fate? If Ganguly was asked to leave, how would those in the team, who have sided with Ganguly, react to (the obvious candidate) Dravid taking over? Wouldn't Dravid inherit a fractured team? How good can that be to Indian cricket?

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 9:05 AM |
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