Sourav's Aussie connection

Here we go again, just when Sourav Ganguly thought he had seen it all, from him being called the Maharaja who refused to carry drinks on his maiden tour to Australia in 91-92, to making a century on Debut at Lord's when he was derided as a zonal pick, to taking over the reins of the Indian cricket team at it's lowest ebb(the Match Fixing saga had just blown out in 2000), to leading India to the World Cup final in 2003, to having a public spat with Greg Chappell, then unceremoniously dropped from the team, making a glorious comeback, finally retiring in a blaze of glory after the Australian series, now comes another shocking announcement- he is stripped of the captaincy of the Kolkatta Knight Riders(KKR). Ganguly must be thinking why does it have to be him always who attracts all the controversy. After all he is controversy's favorite child.

What is with Sourav Ganguly and Aussie coaches- first he made the horrible mistake of choosing Greg Chappell over Tom Moody- when everyone in the team wanted Moody, Greg Chappell turned out to be more hotter than he could handle, now with John Buchanan saying he will field 4 different captains in a game, Ganguly must be getting the same old feeling of deja vu when Chappell wrote a damning mail to the BCCI after the tour of Zimbabwe in 2005. Looking at Ganguly's face in the press conference yesterday it was easier to fathom that he wanted to be somewhere else, he was trying hard to hide his disappointment, his expressions changing from anger to disbelief, even Buchanan said that if he was Ganguly he would be upset, Ganguly if he had his way might just have gone into invisible mode and smacked the hell out of Buchanan, but it was quite a sight to behold the coach and the captain seemingly at pains to explain the latest blockbuster innovation of Mr. Buchanan.

Ganguly was always a feisty character, prepared to speak his mind, never afraid to call a spade a shovel. When a similar sort of personality like Shahrukh Khan is the boss of the team there are bound to be ego clashes, throw in Buchanan into the mix and you have the perfect recipe for disaster, as a matter of fact both Ganguly and Shahrukh had huge differences of opinion in the IPL last year, but as any family would, they settled down to brush aside their differences, but it seems the infighting and petty squabbles have reared their ugly head again. It looks like the KKR are taking the promotional ad film of their franchise in which Ganguly grabs McCullum and Ponting by the scruff of their necks, a little bit too seriously.

John Buchanan the most successful coach in history is a man who has always stood for invention, be it the Chinese style army camp organized for the Aussies prior to their departure to England for the Ashes in 2005, ironically they lost that series and also many in the team were not happy with him which is a different story altogether. He also predicted that players in future will be ambidextrous,where they can bat or bowl equally well with both hands, so it is not a surprise to see him coming up with another move this time of having different captains for different stages of a game.

Buchanan spelt out his plan, he will have a player walking out for the toss, a batting captain, a fielding captain, a bowling captain, probably a captain for overseeing what should be the menu for the players to eat, then there can be a captain as well to see who drives the team bus on the way to the ground. Innovation is Buchanan's middle name but it does seem he has gone a little too far this time.

It is an arduous task of managing an international cricket team and it becomes even more difficult when you consider coaching the Indian cricket team, because India is a country of different hues and everyone in the team can have their own little cliques. Now imagine managing an IPL team which has Gayle, Ponting, McCullum, Mendis and Ganguly, it would take a brave man to say that he will have 4-5 captains for this side. It will be very interesting to see what will Mendis reply to Gayle if he does not agree to give his field, probably some cuss words in Sinhala, the possibilities are endless.

In recent times we have had numerous coach- captain fiascos, again Ganguly heads the list, his infamous spat with Guru Greg Chappell hogged so much news space in the media in India that he might well have been the most loved or hated man on the planet depending on your choice. Recently Kevin Pietersen just did not want anything to do with Peter Moores and ultimately both had to be sacked, but the repercussions were found immediately as England lost the Test series 0-1 to a spirited West Indian side.

What exactly is a coach's role in cricket? This issue has been discussed thread bare in the media numerous times, but to just state the obvious, a cricket coach is not the final authority on the game unlike a football manager who has to worry about substitutions, the time left on the clock, decide on who takes the Penalty kicks in a shootout, and several other finer details. A football manager has to be proactive since it involves his total effort into the game, a timely substitution at the vital moment can change a game, a cricket coach on the other hand does not have much to do other than ironing out small technical deficiencies that might have crept into a player's game.There are so many back room staff in cricket nowadays that the role of the coach is getting diminished by the day. England for example have a separate XI of back room staff if you can call it that, if god forbid something happens to their main cricket team they can step in at any time without worrying about replacements.

Then why cant the coach and captain seem to co- exist peacefully in cricket? Is it because that either of them think that they are the sole authority on the game or is it that the coach wants to operate like a football manager who exerts more power on his players? Either ways unlike a football manager who is the final decision maker on the field, the captain will and always be the one who will be calling all the shots on the field, if the reverse of the above mentioned scenarios were to happen then it will lead to many Chappell- Ganguly episodes. Also it should be mentioned that the iconic Sir Alex Fergusson hurled a boot at David Beckham after he was seen as encroaching upon the authority of the coach. Now imagine Buchanan throwing something at Ganguly after he gets out cheaply, probably Buchanan might never want to know the consequences of such an action.

Shane Warne once famously said that the coach is one who drives the players to and fro from the ground, it is said that he was never in favor of coaches and especially not pleased with Buchanan's methods, he proved everyone wrong by winning the IPL last year when he successfully led a team of rank rookies to the title. In fact India too were without a proper coach when they won the series in England in 2007, the senior players like Sachin, Ganguly, Kumble, Dravid and Laxman were the decision makers on that tour, it just shows that you don't need a coach when you have such a top class line up. It is debatable whether Australia would have won two World Cups without John Buchanan, they might well have because they had such a wonderful line up.

With a bowling coach, a fielding coach, and a coach for every aspect of the game, the head coach of the cricket team is becoming just another man in a bunch of guys looking to produce the results. Strikingly coaches who prefer to be in the back ground like John Wright, Gary Kirsten, Duncan Fletcher have had the most success unlike the harsh handed methods of a Greg Chappell who successfully turned the late swing of Irfan Pathan's bowling into a batting swing from which he could never recover his tremendous bowling skills and finally a wonderful talent was lost to the world. Guru Greg even had the temerity to question Sachin Tendulkar's commitment after India bowed out of the 2007 World Cup which was as blasphemous as John Lennon saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ.

Finally for the creme de la creme to finish it off and it comes from who else but Shane Warne, when asked during the IPL last year "What is the coach doing mate"? he replied in his usual naughty style, "He is driving the bus mate". That quote symbolizes what he thinks of coaches in cricket, probably he was right and you cant dispute with one Shane Keith Warne, can you?

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