Sep 05: On and off the field

Nine months into 2005, and once again we’ve entered a period of quiet, a period of relaxation, a period where the only cricket is the ceremonial beating of defenceless minnows by less-than-focused bigger guns. Yes, we’ve had the final Test sealing the coruscating masterpiece that was the Ashes, but you can’t base a month award on one match; one innings; one knock (even when it was as spellbindingly majestic as KP’s).

So what else was there? Well, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera led a Sri Lankan pummelling of Bangladesh – nothing to write home about there, then. Irfan Pathan made particularly short work of the Zimbabwean batting order, an achievement only slightly tarnished by the revelation that most of the Zimbabweans hadn’t seen a left arm outswing bowler since school, and Pathan’s run-haemorrhage in the Videocon Tri-Series final against the New Zealanders didn’t help his cause.

That’s it. Now, I’ve got a choice of another heinously weak “Lucky Dippenaar”-style headline and player pick, or a left-field selection with less to do with player performance and more to do with column inches. Leaving out the Cricket Web forums and the trials and tribulations of Jack McNamara with Australia Under 19 in India, there’s only been one cricketing story on the world’s lips this month, and it involves a left handed batsman and a coach.

It’s been no secret that public dissatisfaction with the reign of Sourav Ganguly as Indian captain has been growing as his personal form, especially in the longer form of the game, continues to wane – and his team stutter from one failure to another. The introduction of Greg Chappell as national coach was supposed to put an end to this underachievement; yet all it’s brought has been more infighting.

Following Sourav’s sulking after Chappell’s suggestion that the batsman didn’t merit a place in the Test XI on merit, we’ve seen all manner of unseemly goings-on within ‘Team India’ as names and factions have aimed claims and counter-claims, with the result that the undercurrents of dissent are now very much on the surface. Is it what Indian cricket needs right now? No. Can it possibly go on for much longer? No. What can the possible long-term result be?

An end to the post-World Cup disintegration of Indian cricket. And surely that’s got to be something of an achievement?

Cricket Web Player of the Month
September 2005

Greg Chappell

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