Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't cry for Dravid

This blog has been remarkably prescient, as it turns out, on Rahul Dravid's fortunes. Chuck de Dravid, I urged after the England series, and was pleasantly surprised to see him handing over the reins a couple of weeks later. Drop the trio, I urged after another series loss, this time at home against an Aussie side not playing at its best. And another pleasant surprise followed - no Dravid in the ODI team to take on the visiting Pakistanis.
Since then, however, I've been watching with bemusement the outpouring of sympathy for Dravid, mostly from former players who dominate the media scene. I don't understand this - here's a guy who hasn't been performing for a couple of years now, both as captain and player, and yet the sports pages and TV channels are going after the selectors who for once did the right thing.
Out of curiosity I went back and checked what Dravid had been doing as a batsman and sure enough the slump extends way back to the tournament in Kuala Lumpur at the start of last year. India made an early exit in that tournament, made an early exit in the Champions Trophy at home, got thrashed 5-0 by the South Africans in the ODI series there, got knocked out in the first round of the World Cup with the added ignominy of a loss to Bangladesh, lost the series in England to a side playing with a half-fit Flintoff, and lost a home series to the Aussies. In between all that carnage, India managed to win preparatory series at home before the World Cup against the Windies and Lankans who rested most of their top players. India also beat the South Africans 2-1 in Ireland, but again they were without their main players. And yes, India also beat Bangladesh.
Obviously, there's no point continuing with the same old players if this is what the team is producing, and of the senior players Dravid has contributed the least during this time. In fact, he has had only three knocks of over 50 in a match-winning cause in 40 matches in nearly two years - the 92 not out in the England series, a 66 against the Lankans before the World Cup, and a 54 against the Windies again in that preparatory series before the World Cup where nobody was stretching too hard. I did not have the patience to work out his strike rate in this period, but I'm sure it's worse than his none too impressive career strike rate of 71. That would be less than four runs an over, and everyone knows that with one-day scores tending toward 300 these days, a strike rate of four will ensure a defeat.
Instead of shedding tears for Dravid, we should shed a few for all the one-day matches that India has been losing in the last couple of years by refusing to drop the plodding Dravid, while players like Gambhir, Uthappa, Rohit, Badrinath, and Tewary have been waiting in the wings. Yes, I admire Dravid for his exploits in Test cricket, and the two or three years when his one-day batting sparkled with a high strike rate. But I have no sympathy for a guy who is losing matches for India, and keeping out talented youngsters who deserve opportunities to grow in international cricket just like Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar did in their time.

18 comments:

Straight Point said...

exactly...

its just a looser sympathy he is getting much like SG when he was dropped while the performance both as captain and player was not even average...

i just dont understand our psyche...we just dont get satisfied at one point we want to look for future...want to rotate our seniors...want selectors to take hard decisions and when one such things happens we are the first one to criticize...jump from the seats like earth has got shaken a bit...

its we who sometimes force selectors/system to act insipid...go for populist choices and look fool...

we are like this only...

now what remains to be seen during the pak series how selectors will be treating SG coz now sehwag being in the team and we being missing the impact player in top order for quite a while now...its going to be interesting series which will give us the glimpse of what is coming...in not so distant future i.e.

Sumit said...

sp, i think both sg and srt should be under the scanner, and it should be their strike rates that should be examined. hindustan times trotted out their high averages in the aussie series while making a case for the seniors. then how come we lost? and how come we win as soon as they're out, even if it's 2020? happy times for indian cricket, and bad times for the seniors methinks.

Soulberry said...

"Breaking News" (as they say)

IBN 7 Live is reporting at the moment that the BCCI prez is "angry" and has slammed the people responsible for Dravid's exclusion.

Some BCCI sources were quick to issue a statement that Dravid will be back immediately.

Apparently Rajput's complaint at Dravid's dropping was taken up against Vengsarkar at the highest level.

Questions and Observations -

1) This is Ganguly all over again
2) Guess even a two-match break doesn't go down well with everyone else except the player.
3) Dhoni must have had a role or he must not have been taken into confidence
4) What use having paid and pro selectors if they are subjugate to extraneous authority?
5) Has being converted to a paid position (and their asking for more) actually diminished the "respectability" of the selectors....in typical Indian fashion.."they are just our paid servants" attitude come to the fore?

Ottayan said...

This does nt augur well for Indian cricket.

Vidooshak said...

Bringing back Ganguly was the first backward step. This is the same saga all over again.

Guess who is going to pay for this if there is a reversal..Its not going to be Sehwag, its likely Rohit Sharma or Gambhir.

Ottayan said...

Vidooshak,

On the dot.

If Dravid can raise so much passion, imagine what would happen if they 'rest' Ganguly?

It is the end of the rotation policy.

Straight Point said...

thats what i meant when i commented that its we (media, ex-players,fans etc) who force the reversal of whatever step (if we do take) we take in right direction...

gone with this any notion of selectors being 'paid professionals' accountability, integrity coz they will be forced to backtrack on whatever they do...

i can merely sympathize with them coz this is the reason they dont take strong decisions and its we who criticize them for not bieng strong...

hight of hypocrisy...

from now on this should be said after selection meeting at press conference...

that so and so got selected or got dropped coz his name did or did not appeared from the pot of names...selectors were there to mere take out 'parchies' from the pot and its nothing to do with them the selection (or not) was merely coincidental...

John said...

Paid or not, any office-bearer has a responsibility to reason. Selectors are certainly in the nature of public officials, and they owe the stakeholders of Indian cricket an explanation for every step they take. Reasoned decisions and enforced transparency are the only way that Indian cricket becomes more accountable. Since they are paid, they will at least have the cushion of money for all the flak they'll take. Venx and the Board, instead of being boorish about such things, should welcome such criticism in the interests of transparency. However, it is only when reasons are not provided, or when such reasons are patently absurd and lacking any logic that we should call for their heads.

Sumit said...

i also noted dravid's somewhat imperious reaction to his dropping - "it's a long season ahead" - belying the image of humility he projects. i would've been appreciative if he had acknowledged his poor form and promised to work harder to regain it. but perhaps the ethos of current indian cricket is to push yourself into the team at any cost, even the team's.

Sumit said...

john, yes transparency would be nice. in fact in this case i don't know why the selectors don't justice their decision with cold facts. dravid's been a disaster as captain and player for nearly two years. that's too long a rope to give anybody. the trouble with all the criticism of the selectors is that none of it deals with his performance and its impact. one or two people have looked at averages, but they've either gone too far into the past or haven't considered strike rates, match results or opposition. take away dravid's knocks against bangladesh, and he wouldn't find a place in any international odi team on current form. in fact, he has probably survived so long only by virtue of being captain. once he relinquished that, there was no excuse for him to be in the team.

Sumit said...

typo - please read justify for justice in the last comment

Sumit said...

vidooshak/ottayan - yes now it's going to be interesting to see if the same yardstick will be applied to ganguly and then tendulkar. those two have queered the pitch by maintaining a high average even at the cost of a few matches. i think odi stats just don't give sufficient importance to strike rates and i'm going to deal with that in more detail in my next post.

Sumit said...

soulberry, ultimately even the bcci prez, however ignorant he may be about cricket, probably knows that if he lets the team keep losing series after series without doing anything about it, he will only be playing into the hands of icl who will be competing for ads and sponsors.

Soulberry said...

I had missed the news clips which showed Vegsarkar responding/reacting on camera. (for two days I was out of touch with tv news). I have been brought up to date since (by straightdrive)about what transpired on camera and perhaps explains why there is so much outrage against Vengsarkar.


I didn't understand the reason earlier and felt it was entirely limited to his decision as selector. That was ok...he was doing his job, but now I understand he needs coaching classes to appear in front of tv cameras.

Transparency? This is India mate...all the transparency we have here is to be seen only in Bollywood costumes...specially the rain sequences. Mostly there is a dusty haze hanging over the country in summers or a dense fog (north, north-east and north-west regions) in winters.

Sam said...

So Sumit is a happy man. His long time wish is cherished. Wow. Dravid the non player is dropped. But is he really as bad as being perceived by the bloggers out here ?

I fail to comprehend what do you want ? Get some youth on the name of future and get beaten ? And then all the crap of 2007 WC exit to start all over again ?

Forget that. Shoudlnt there be a reason to comprehend after all why Dravid has to be dropped ? Only on the basis of Strike Rate ?

Height of pessimism and confusion....Age is just a number as a strike rate. The one who plays stays, the one who doesnt goes. Dravid has had just 1 bad series and he s being dropped. I dont remember when Dhoni played his typical fast innings and he was flop in England series. Wasnt he ?

And what does he get, not an axe but captaincy. He gets 2 ducks in world cup, yet he is skipper and is hailed. Wow. KKD makes golden ducks every 3rd game and he is hailed as young prospect. Wow.

What about his strike rate ? Yuvraj Singh sparkles in one occasional match and then falls to the same rubbish ways. He s being talked high.

But ST and SG set up match winning partnerships, then we talk their strike rates and other crap!!!!

We r really strange people. Big time

Sumit said...

sam, you're right, we have to coin another term for them - how about 'match-losing partnership'?

Stuart said...

As I have said before, India needs to make these hard decisions and slow phase out the older players. Otherwise, you end up losing all of them at the same time and having no experience in your middle order. From an Australian experience, that is a recipe for disaster.

Sumit said...

stuart, gambhir and sehwag are both very good players of spin and can easily adapt to the middle order. along with yuvraj and dhoni, they make a quartet of experienced batsmen which should be more than enough for any team. besides, newcomers like uthappa, rohit sharma and suresh raina have already earned their spurs. so in fact, if you leave out the super senior trio, you would still have an experienced batting line-up which can only accommodate one or two promising newcomers like badrinath and tewary, which is as it should be if you're looking to build for the future. so the scene in idnia currently is a little different from what it was in australia - perhaps due to the number of one-day matches india plays, and the number of players who've been in and out of a team which has had three or four players going on and on for 15 years.