Friday, December 28, 2007

Resurrecting the Champ

This is not about the recent movie starring Josh Hartnett and Samuel Jackson, about a boxer, washed out, living out a lie and finding a person-in-a-hurry-to-fame as a conduit to spin a yarn... Infact, I should have named this as “Crucifying a Champ – A step-by-step instruction on how to take a perfectly cooked recipe, and screw it up into a distasteful and completely messed up mish-mash”.

In case, you have not caught on, this is about Dravid.

Here is the guy who has amazing technique, a great temperament for batting, perfect gentleman, a perfectionist and consummate team-man; take him, add some second-guessers to it, create a parallel structure and slowly watch him disintegrate; He has been now turned him into a perfect specimen for a case-study on psychological experiment. Freud would be rubbing his hands in glee and would call variety of people – Greg Chappell, Sharad Pawar, Zaheer Khan, Tendulkar and Mr. D himself – Dilip Vengasarkar to get their expert opinion, for his case-study.

In my belief, Dravid is a complex man – a perfectionist seeking excellence in whatever he chooses to do and driven more by intent rather than agenda. He is someone who would look at the goal and hope the team around him will look at the goal and align themselves to achieve it without the politicking and without their own agenda. If you had seen him bat in the last few innings, it is clear that he is going through a crisis of confidence. Just cannot believe someone who played so well in the final OD innings in England could decline so fast – I believe it has got to do more with mind than the technique.

Flash back to recent events: He won a series in West Indies and then in England. In England, as a captain, he decides that he would not enforce follow-on – hue and cry were raised by people who cannot hold a candle to what he has achieved; forget the fact that Vaughn himself admitted that had he been in Dravid’s place he’d done the exact same. Then when Dravid talked about having his tiring bowlers have a rest, Zaheer Khan (who was earlier docked in the Chappell-Dravid regime) came out and says he wasn’t tired. Add to it a constant by-play with the newfound we-are-close-friends-now – Tendulkar/Ganguly combine. Then we hear stories about how Vengsarkar wanted the batting order to be changed. And you would think that Selectors select players and then shut the eff up; and the rest is upto the captain. But you know, this is Vengsarkar – the man who wrote in Hindu 15 years ago that the only time India cricket does well is when it has Mumbai players in it. No wonder, Dravid talked about shelf-life of a captain. He returns and lets Sharad Pawar know that he no longer wants to be the captain. Mr. Vengsarkar, hurt that he was not being told first, does everything in his power to get Tendulkar as the captain. Fortunately, good sense prevailed in Tendulkar. The worse is yet to come – someone who played a blinder of an innings in England is “rested” from the team after one poor series at home. If he was rested, then he should have brought back to the later part of the series; but no.

Now touring Australia, inspite of two specialist openers in the 16 – Karthik and Sehwag, Dravid has been asked to open to accommodate Yuvraj in the final 11. I wonder if someone could ask the same of Tendulkar or Ganguly – could be natural choices as both have opened for dogs years in the ODs. Dravid, I’m sure, agreed to open, although he may have had other opinions... I've actually now become a proponent of euthanasia, after hearing about Dravid's T1, innings 1 labour.

This could be pop-psychology – but Dravid I believe is a person who strives for perfection; and that too with great intensity. When you do that, then most times even a simple thing could become complicated. Not saying opening is a simple thing – but Dravid would have built a lot of what-if-scenarios around it and would have made it more complex than it ought to be. He had already talked about the change-over between innings as one of the what-if scenarios. He also comes across as a person who can get quickly get into a siege mentality and sink deeper into crisis of confidence; and the more he gets deeper into, the more he gets into point of no return. Case in point is his stagnation as a run-scoring opener in the warm-up game and in the first-innings. We see a completely different and tentative batsman – the guy who is intent on battling it out in keeping his wicket intact rather than scoring runs.

This had happened once, earlier to Dravid – when he was dropped from the OD team for his ability to rotate the strike and score briskly. At that time, two things happened – one, he reinvented himself and more importantly, he had a strong support from the leadership – Ganguly as the captain, had insisted that Dravid to be in the team in the lower order and also got him to keep wickets. That kind of unconditional support and faith was required to get Dravid into the mind-set of a champion. The rest is history – his OD confidence carrying into stupendous test forms, setting up a host of hundreds and double hundreds, leading to famous test wins for India abroad.

I believe Dravid is more needed in the test team and in the middle-order to provide the solidity that others can build around it and he has still 2-3 years in him. He certainly needs that kind of leadership support now – if not from Kumble (who is not much dissimilar to Dravid in mental make-up), from his team-mates, like Tendulkars and Gangulys. Dravid being, perhaps, the most self-less in that group, would definitely make the others look good too.

However, not very evident what would such kind of unstinted support for Dravid would come from. One place where we do NOT have to look is, for sure, from the office of Chairman of Selectors!!

Ps: On a different note, can anyone find a logic in screwing up three positions within the batting order to get Yuvraj in – The opener slot, the #3 and #6 and sacrifice an opener, Dravid and Laxman ? Why cant we just drop one of the middle-order rather than screwing up the set-order!


Anonymous said...

Great work of support.. But can you make the people who matter see this post... why dont you try getting this published for better readership and may be some constructive action.. Its pathetic to see Dravid in this defeated form.. He definitely doesn't deserve this..

EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

4Anon: Hmm... not sure, if anyone would publish such a controversial topic.

Anonymous said...

Very well written...should be posted on Cricinfo using your old credentials with them..they would surely publish it..hopefully that would open the eyes of the men at the helm of the affairs...ramesh

Ram said...

true- it hurts to see the second best batsman in the Indian test team go through all this.

Anonymous said...

Well written; I do feel the same. It is a pity that some of the cricketers-turned-journalists become in their true "journalist" form advise and criticize, mostly forgetting their weaker moments. Hopefully someone will ask this to Dravid in a real interview, in case you are not planning to send it, or ask D directly .. suresh

Ravi said...

The only comment is that Dravid is behaving more like a victim and not
the player that he is capable of... in fact, his supporters are doing the same..blaming everyone else.. One insight that comes out is that to move from victim to player, one needs to see one's own past achievements. His past successes are so enormous that he can draw strength from them.

I was surprised recently when Srinath wrote that' Dravid has only to blame himself for the mess that he is in'

Anyway given the Melbourne test, it is quite a sad story everywhere.

EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

4Ramesh: See above...

4Ram: Hasn't Gavaskar retired a long time ago ? :)

4Suresh: Thanks man. I think such thinking person will eventually figure out themselves. There is quite a bit of (vocal) support for him, anyways.

4Ravi: Yep. I think thats why some good people-leader like Ganguly can do wonders to Dravid's psyche. Would Ganguly be a greater person ?

Ram said...

i was saying "best", not "boring" :)

EnGeetham aka "My Song!" said...

4Ram: So I would assume, you like Mark Waugh over Steve Waugh ? :)

Ram said...

i like neither so much for their batting skills :D

as a batsman, definitely a cricketer/sportsperson, definitely Steve.

btw, hope you saw the best wield his bat yesterday ;)