The Future of CricketGulu Ezekiel |
Author: John Buchanan
Publisher: Hardie Grant
Rating: 3.5 stars
Former Australian team coach John Buchanan’s book hit the headlines for his comments on some of India’s iconic cricketers. But what was really striking was the timing of the release of the book. Buchanan was sacked as coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders IPL franchise after they finished last in the league’s second season, in South Africa.
Yet the book was written just before the start of Season II and should have been released around that time instead of waiting till the end of the season.
Now one can only look back with a mixture of mirth and irony at some of Buchanan’s predictions for the second season, not to mention his ambitious five-year plans for KKR.
The most amusing part of the book is his elaborate flattery of KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan. Now that he has been given the boot by the Bollywood superstar we are told he was “shocked and surprised” at his sacking as he expected a full five-year stint. This would be like asking for the moon considering the chaos and turmoil he sowed within the team.
Buchanan’s observations that Twenty20 cricket came too late for the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly (as well as Ricky Ponting) have indeed proven to be true and the hue and cry in the Indian media over this issue is regrettable.
He is more personal in his attack on Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh, while his condemnation of IPL technical committee head Sunil Gavaskar for rejecting one of his many hare-brained schemes (15-player teams), is churlish and shows up Buchanan as a sour-puss who is always determined to have his way.
More amusingly, Buchanan damns IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and Ganguly with faint praise, slipping in a few observational gems while weaving circles round them.
It was Buchanan’s machinations – hand-in-glove with Khan it must be said – that brought doom and despair upon the KKR camp as Ganguly was removed as captain and replaced by Brendon McCullum.
Buchanan is free to air his views on players, officials and tactics. But he is way off the mark when he makes sweeping negative stereotypes about India and Indians, comparing them unfavourably with his beloved Australia.
Considering the disgraceful spate of racist and violent attacks on Indians in Australia over the year prior to the book’s publication, perhaps Buchanan should remove his rose-tinted glasses while gazing lovingly across his beloved homeland.
Invariably such a scattergun method of taking potshots at everybody and everything will hit a few random targets. For example Buchanan has a point about “obscene and excessive” amounts of money being paid to some players.
But then what about Buchanan himself amassing a huge team of cronies among his support staff, including son Michael? Presumably they were not in it for charity.
Finally, the note about the author at the start of the book is worth recounting: “To Kolkata Knight Riders he brought a vision beyond fine-tuning cricketing skills; a vision of developing KKR into a model other franchises would aspire to emulate.”
Considering the chaos the team slipped into thanks to his “vision”, it is a fair bet no franchise would even dream of aspiring to emulate Buchanan and his mad-hatter schemes.