Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why isn't he the captain?

That bout of hitting outdid anything that such iconic strikers as Adam Gilchrist, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar and Shahid Afridi have produced over the years. It was the fastest fifty in the history of international cricket. And nobody's surprised because that's the sort of world beating talent that is Yuvraj Singh. And yet, he does not become a regular in our Test team, he is overtaken by MS Dhoni for T20 and ODI captaincy, and his position in the batting order is taken over by the wicketkeeper. What gives?
You may argue he has weaknesses, mainly a tendency to poke at balls leaving him outside offstump, and a lack of ease against good spinners. But who doesn't have weaknesses? The fact is he has produced more match-winning knocks in limited overs cricket than anyone else in the past few years, and is easily the best finisher we have.
Take the one we've just witnessed. He got a boundary off the second ball he faced, overtook his partner Dhoni in four balls, and went on to hit three fours and seven sixes. Dhoni who came in to bat ahead of him at number four did not get a single boundary till the end, leave alone the sixes. What gall to promote himself in the batting order ahead of a talent like Yuvraj Singh.
I don't know why Yuvraj has been treated in this manner. Is it because the selectors can't see the talent, attitude, street-smartness and temperament in him? Or is he paying the price for once speaking out in support of Sourav Ganguly?


John said...

Why isn't Yuvi in the Test team?
Because he just hasn't done enough to dislodge Ganguly/Laxman from the team. For sure he cannot dislodge Tendulkar/Dravd, and he certainly cannot be a Test opener. Ganguly and Laxman, have over the last decade, done enough to measure up quite favourably against all of Yuvi's amazing talent. Until now.

In my opinion, Yuvi should not be captain for two reasons:
1. He has not behaved with the kind of maturity expected of an ambassador for the game and the coutry. Getting drunk and punching people, giving ill-timed interviews to the press etc. do not point to a great talent for man management. He is a loose cannon! Why do you think Shane Warne never captained Australia? Didn't he have one of the best cricketing brains in the world? Wasn't he aggressive? Talented? And why not Herschelle Gibbs? Dhoni on the other hand has managed to remain squeaky clean while giving an air of quiet and determined aggression.

2. Yuvraj is the most talented batsman we have. Why do we need to go through the whole Tendulkar thing again? The last thing we need is Yuvraj going through a prolonged form slump. It is very rare when someone like Kapil or Bradman or Jayawardene pull it off. It is better to have a captain who has had to work hard all his life to prove his capabilities. (Ganguly, Collingwood, Steve Waugh, Brearly, Border).

I admit the second reason does not seem very rational. It is just a personal bias I have against making the best player the captain.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

john, to pack the middle order with four seniors for so long is the reason why young talent has not been groomed. laxman and his thirties and forties have been persisted with too long. in any case, the number six position is too low for someone like him. that should be for grooming a youngster, as australia did with micael clarke right here under our noses. the other option was to convert one of the fab four into a test opener...
yuvi's character, well we should either dismiss him from the team or put odd incidents behind us and move on. but pliable mediocrity is never a good alternative and i think that's what dhoni represents. sobers too had a reputation for binge drinking, didn't he?...
slump in batting? i don't think yuvi would have succumbed to pressure. that's why he's our best finisher. sachin flopped as captain because he's a control freak and won't let the others play their game. besides, he rarely does well under pressure which explains his poor form battign second...
honestly, i'm not totally convinced about yuvraj as captain, but he can't be worse than dhoni, and TINA.

John said...

I think the selectors have got it spot on, naming Yuvi as VC. A guy with his ego has a sniff at captaincy, will certainly want to outperform everyone, especially Dhoni.

Dhoni, mediocre talent he may be, but never underestimate what mediocre talent can grow into. Especially when people keep telling you that you are mediocre. Cast a look at the runs being amassed by the previously untalented Jayasurya, Chanderpaul, Hayden, Collingwood, and Younis Khan!

Hopefully, this competition for captaincy and runs will serve the team well.

Soulberry said...

I'll tend to agree with John and the reasons you pointed out in your article Sumit.

I don't know Yuvraj so don't know what kind of person he is. One can only form an opinion from what's been said/written about him.

From a pure cricketing point of view, what straightaway rules him out of captaincy is his very brialliance. In fact, I should have said the flashes of brilliance. We all know what he is capable of, but even he has admitted he hasn't done justice to his talent.

A more consistent Yuvraj and I have no problem....booze or otherwise. There is some controversy regards that episode as well.

The Atheist said...

I thought he wasn't the captain because he was a bit of a prat? Doesn't everyone hate him? Or, at least, get invovled with fights with him?

Sumit Chakraberty said...

athiest, ya i think the main reason is his attitude. but sometimes i feel that's exactly what's needed to rattle an aggressive unit like the aussies.

soulberry, by that argument, somebody like damien martyn should've been aussie captain, not ponting.

john, i think it's more important to have a supportive number two, than a competitor. but yes, you may be right that yuvraj will be motivated.

John said...

We're all just too swept away by the success of the Ganguly style. To rattle the Aussies, Indians need not always be Ganguly-esque, and in-your-face. We just need to stand our ground, and Dhoni is quite capable of doing that.

John said...


That Sobers was a binge drinker is not relevant. The demands of modern cricket are different. Plus it is not the drinking per se that I've a problem with. He seems too immature to handle the "outside the field" pressures that come with captaincy. I've no doubt that he can handle all sorts of pressure on the pitch, but a persistent hack could get his goat any time!

And btw, Laxman with his "thirties and forties"?? Are you serious?

Laxman's last 15 innings:
46*, 51, 54, 39, 15, 1, 13, 15, 50*, 73, 28, 16, 18, 63, 100.

He could've done worse. Laxman has always been treated unfairly by selectors and perhaps even fans. Shuttled up and down to suit any demands, always the first to be dropped after a bad series for the team, and his record despite all this shit is a testament to his tenacity.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

john, agree with both your points now. dhoni is cool, has guts, and carries himself well. i always liked him as a player. he and yuvraj are the only true power hitters in india today. had my doubts about him as a leader and thinker. these doubts grew after the first match when he went with karthick and agarkar. but i realise now that he was just keeping things simple, having been given a team with a number of untried players.
laxman i know has probably performed better than dravid and sachin in the last two years, but those two couldn't be dropped, could they? and after ganguly's strong comeback, where's the option? there has to be at least one slot in the middle order to groom a youngster i feel. ideally dravid or sachin should have converted to an opener, and it might well have done them good to have the ball come to the bat, and many gaps in the field in the first 20 overs even in tests...