ONE LEADER Puting a strong individual in a position to advice the captain is inviting confrontation
The captain is the only person who can run a cricket team properly because so much of the job involves onfield decision making. QUEEN’S PARK OVAL RAISED A BIG QUESTION MARK OVER THE VIABILITY OF BILATERAL SERIES.
The last thing a captain needs is to come off the field and have someone second guess his decisions. He also doesn’t need a strong-minded individual (outside his advisory group) getting too involved in the pre-match tactical planning. Too often I see captaincy that appears to be the result of the previous evening’s planning, and despite ample evidence it’s hindering the team’s chances of victory, it remains the plan throughout the next day.
This is generally a sure sign that the captain is following someone else’s plan and that he is the wrong man for the job.
India is fortunate to have two capable leaders in Kohli and the man who stood in for him during the Test series with Australia, Ajinkya Rahane.
It’s Kohli’s job as captain to concentrate on things that help win cricket matches and his offfield assistants’ task is to ensure he’s not distracted in trying to achieve victory. India’s opponents in the final, Pakistan, were unusually free of any controversies during the tournament. They were capably led by Sarfraz Ahmed who appeared to become more and more his own man as the tournament progressed.
Watching Pakistan’s success unfold from Islamabad, it was obvious how much the team’s success meant to the fans. While the ICC deliberated on increasing the number of Test playing nations, it’s good to see some consideration was given to Pakistan’s plight; not playing matches at home.
It was the right time for the ICC to implement a plan to resume matches in Pakistan and to commence with small steps. In light of the recent instability around the world, it was reasonable to ask: “Is Pakistan the only region that is unsafe for hosting cricket matches?” On the evidence I saw, and from what I was told by people in a position to know the situation, Pakistan’s security is much improved from the recent past.
Adding Afghanistan (a more dangerous country than Pakistan) and Ireland to the roster does seem a little premature. The last thing Test cricket needs is more uncompetitive matches. Surely, the priority is to ensure Pakistan and West Indies, two great contributors to the rich history of the game, are both playing Test cricket to their full potential before expanding the number of teams. PORTOFSPAIN: West Indies haven’t been struggling merely with the quality of teams they are putting out on the field. They have been struggling with the scheduling of home series as well, especially with India, during their traditional home season. For any cricket team, the home season is important to keep the crowd interest alive.
For West Indies, it has traditionally been the period between February and May. And understandably, this series is failing to take off. It falls outside the peak cricket period, and is affected by rain as it has run into the Caribbean hurricane season. It has thus rendered the contest meaningless, having little context.
Empty stands at the Queen’s Park Oval on Friday in the first ODI between India and West Indies raised a big question mark over the viability of bilateral series, especially in the Caribbean, in these days of big T20 leagues as well as other multi-team tournaments, more so during the rainy season when it is being played as a mere formality.
WASHED OUT TEST
Last year too, when India played West Indies in a Test at the Queen’s Park Oval, it was in midAugust and rain played spoilsport, allowing just 22 overs of play. Lack of drainage facilities at the ground all but washed out the Test as India finished with a 2-0 victory in the four-match series.
Cricket during peak season in the Caribbean, in the early part of the year, is well attended. Pakistan played a long series in March, April and May and attracted lot of crowd. Last year, Australia and South Africa came to the Caribbean for a Tri-series in May and June, and out of the 10 matches, only one was washed out. There was no cricket before that here because of the World T20 in India, which West Indies won.
Growing amount of cricket, especially due to the T20 leagues, has left ICC with the tough task of saving bilateral series and giving it context. Its push for an ODI and Test league may give it some significance. England, Australia, South Africa and even New Zealand have been protecting their home seasons while BCCI too has insisted on it.
But a long home season every few years (2012-13 and 2016-17) crammed with three teams visiting, and obliging other top nations as well as having top players in a two-month IPL (in May-June) hasn’t allowed India to visit the Caribbean in the traditional season for a while. The last time they did that was back in 2002. In 2006, India played a five-ODI and four-Test series, which however began in May and ran till July. That series had to be scheduled in that manner as India toured Pakistan early that year. However, even a May start is now ruled out due to IPL.