Dravid Faces Big Leadership Test

Ravi Shastri had said earlier that Rahul Dravid should assert himself more. This comment is more relevant now than ever before. For starters, Dravid should stop being influenced by the likes of Shastri himself. Opening with Viru (as Shastri had suggested at the end of Day 3) on the 4th day of the third Test against SA was a colossal mistake that ultimately caused India the match. Viru’s bad start (which has now become the norm) destroyed India’s chances whatsoever of putting up a big score.

More recently, one of the national selectors, criticized Dravid’s captaincy in the last Test. While the selector might have gone overboard by talking to the press, the sentiments expressed are not without merit. Though 211 is a small total to defend, it does not explain why Sachin and Viru were not used as bowlers on a turning track while Sreesanth and Zaheer leaked boundaries in the midst of their “good” deliveries.

Dravid is easily India’s most dependable batsman. As captain he is continuing to shoulder that responsibility. Dravid fails and the team fails. This has become the norm. Captaining the side and being the main stay for the team is a tall order. It can result in a lot of pressure, leaving little time to focus on getting the best out of the team. Just as Ganguly’s success as captain was shaped by the performances of Dravid, Sachin, and Viru. Dravid has yet to find others in the team who can get the job done with little or no assistance from him.

Unlike Dada who is an impulsive, aggressive and firm skipper, Dravid has shown to be a shrewd, thinking-type captain. Thus far, his approach has failed to inspire his team mates to produce, something Dada did well to do in the first few years of his captaincy. Unlike Dada, Dravid is a far more talented batsman. This means that he can more than likely step up to the plate when required and deliver. But first he should get his team mates to produce the best. Unfortunately, the reverse has been happening. Even after taking over the captain’s job, he has continued to try and lead from the front, so to speak. And when he fails his team mates have followed suit. Its time Dravid reversed roles and focused more on getting the best out of his team mates.

For starters, it might make sense for Dravid to seed the number 3 spot to VVS in Test matches. Likewise in ODIs he should consider dropping down the order (which he appears to be doing) in most matches. Its time Dravid made some tough calls especially related to fading stars in the team. Viru has had his chances. Dravid should no longer stick his neck out for him. Its time Viru is shown the door (no matter how badly backed by Gavaskar, Shastri, Shrikanth and other former players). Gambhir, Uthappa, Karthik, Dhoni are all worthy alternatives to take his ODI spot. It might make sense to rest Sachin for the next several games and perhaps bring him back for a couple of games before the world cup. Dada has returned to the Test side no doubt. He could still be on the ODI team for the World Cup without having to play these forthcoming matches. Dada doesn’t have to prove anything, does he? 🙂

The next several games leading up to the World Cup will set the stage for a defining phase in Dravid’s career as captain. He has tasted a continuous string of ODI successes, followed by a stretch of ODI failures. Apart from experimenting with a slew of youngsters (Raina, Yuvraj, Kaif, Dhoni, Karthik, Pathan, Gambhir, Uthappa), Dravid has had to contend with fading superstars like Viru and Sachin, and returning stars like Dada and Zaheer. Last but not the least, he has had to work with Chappell whose tumultuous rein has produced way too much controversy.

The time has come for Dravid to use his vast cricketing experience and make up his own mind, try not to be overly influenced by the Shastris and Shrikanths from the commentary box, identify the key players who can do the job for him in the World Cup and pick his own team so to speak. The next set of ODIs will be his last chance to unearth some new talent or finalize on existing players. If he ends up making the wrong calls, Dada might just return as captain after the World Cup.

p.s: A friend of mine compares Dravid’s elevation to captaincy as a case of the best software engineer being promoted to a Manager! This is a little too harsh at the moment considering that Dravid has had his fair share of success as captain. But if Dravid’s failures continue to mount, his captaincy could be a basket case for such studies and analogies!

Drop Viru, Please!

For the next few ODI games before the world cup the following team might be the way to go:

Uthappa, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Dravid, Karthik, Pathan, Bhajji, Agarkar, Sreesanth, Zaheer; Mongia, Kumble, Raina, RP Singh (VRV or any one of the fully fit seamers).

  • Viru — Dropped for poor performance.
  • Sachin — Rested until say the last couple of matches before the World Cup.
  • Dada — He has nothing to prove. He can still be in the world cup team without playing these matches.
  • VVS — He can bat only at number 3, and his fielding can add to the fielding liability list (Kumble, Dravid, Munaf, Dada).
  • Raina: Great fielder, capable batsmen who hit a rough patch. It helps to have a left hander in the ranks.
  • Kaif: With Dravd in the team, its very hard to justify his presence lower in the order.
  • Mongia: County experience, all round capability, decent record.
  • Powar: No room for more than two spinners
  • Munaf: Good, But unfit, unreliable.
  • Pathan: He is still the best bet to fill the all rounder slot.

Gates Foundation: Charity Conflicts With Investments

Interesting article reprinted in the mercury news (originally from LA Times) about the the Gates Foundation investments being in conflict with its charity contributions.

“…the Times found that the Gates Foundation has holdings in many companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker rights, or unethical practices.”

Ashes: Eng wiped out 5-0

Yes, its official. The Aussies have completely decimated England. Strauss must be glad he wasn’t captain for this tour. Freddie must be wondering what to say next. Meanwhile, the Aussie’s celebrate a well deserved series victory. Gotta hand it to them, these guys are world beaters, no doubt.

Meanwhile, don’t miss Boycott’s recent comments about the MBE — hilarious!

SA vs India: Third Test Could Go Either Way!

After three days and each team having played one innings, the match is very interestingly poised with still two days to go. India did well on day 3 to wrap up the SA innings with a 41 run lead. Batting last on this wicket against Kumble is going to be a tough challenge. But to make an interesting final days play, India will have to put some runs on the board. A 250+ target on the last day should make for a nail-biting finish.

Open with Sehwag? God, No!

It is surprising to hear the likes of Shastri continuing to plug for Sehwag, suggesting that he should be asked to open in the second innings so India can get runs on the board quickly! When was the last time Viru accomplished this when most needed? The man is so hopelessly out of form and low on confidence. He barely managed 40 runs in the first innings despite being sent in when the ball was old and the bowlers had tired out. It would be a really bad move to ask him to open again. He can serve the team better lower in the order at the present juncture. Karthik and Jaffer have clicked as a pair and at least for this Test India should persist with the same opening pair.

Huh? Paul Harris four-for…?

Its preposterous to say the least that Paul Harris walked away with 4 Indian wickets in the first innings. Paul Harris is no Sharne Warne. Its unpardonable for the likes of Tendulkar and Sehwag to get out to a slow newbie left armer. The second innings will be another opportunity for Indian batsmen to grab some useful runs against the spinner.

Team Management: The Good and The Bad

Opening with Karthik was a master stroke. Credit should go to the youngster for being so versatile. The man is a good wicket-keeper, an excellent fielder and a versatile batsman. In short, he deserves kudos for his talent and sheer spirit. (He deserves a place in ODI playing 11 in my opinion). If he had failed, the team management would have certainly received a lot of flak for experimenting.

Giving Jaffer another chance was a great move that has already paid off. Its unfortunate that Gambhir had to miss out, but the gamble to persist with Jaffer has proved to be the right one. On flip side, the team management would do well to re-assess its over-arching faith in Viru’s opening abilities. The man badly needs to go the Pathan way and play some domestic cricket to regain his old form. His failures since the last World Cup have continued but he is still within the “scheme of things”. It makes no sense. Its time to call on Karthik, Uthappa, Gambhir, Pujara and the like.

Oprah’s Philanthropy Mis-directed?

Saw the news report in the papers this morning about Oprah Winfrey’s $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in the town of Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg.

“Built on 52 acres, the 28-building campus resembles a luxury hotel, with state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science labs, and a library, theater and wellness center. Each girl lives in a two-bedroom suite.”

Isn’t this excessive? Do you need to “pluck” people from such abject poverty and transform them overnight by giving them a Hollywood upbringing? Winfrey said she chose “every brick tile, sheet and spoon,” because “if you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty brings out the beauty in you.”

Sounds overly excessive, to say the least. At a time when, basic healthcare, education and everyday living is a challenge for many across Africa, Oprah’s attempts at philanthropy appear to grossly mis-directed.

Oprah is a smart woman no doubt, but surely she will be serving the world’s poor a lot better if she drew a leaf out of Warren Buffet and simply wrote a big check to the Gates Foundation.

Aussie Players Dash for The Exit

First it was Damien Martyn, then McGrath and Warne and now Langer. Is Hayden listening? 🙂
The best part about Aussie cricket is that there are plenty of new comers waiting to replace these stars. Warne and McGrath (particularly Warne) are likely to be missed the most. The Aussie bowling will certainly go through an adjustment phase. Its interesting to see how Aussie cricket works. A bunch of old timers criticize the team for being “too old”, Captain Ponting steps up and rubbishes those allegations, then the team of old guys thrash Eng and regain the Ashes and then a whole bunch of so-called “old guys” head for the exit and turn in their retirements. A true “win-win” for all parties involved.

Unlike in India where there is so much of glamor and accompanying endorsements that come with success in the game, the Aussies are much more rooted in reality. They play as long as they can justify their presence in the team and if they are having fun. If either of these were not the case you can bet an Aussie Test player will quit. This is not new and has been the case with Aussie cricket for a long time.

Can’t remember the last time since Sunil Gavaskar that an Indian cricketer quit the Test scene in style while still in the playing 11. Can you?

Any guesses on which Indian cricketer might quit in style? (My guess: Rahul Dravid).