The Man in the Arena
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Teddy Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910
Rahul Dravid is the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. He was the last batsman standing against Sri Lanka, and failed while daring greatly. He should not be sacked just because the people are angry after the World Cup fiasco. Let us not sacrifice India’s greatest batsman in a moment of anger, don’t forget that his resilience is the sole reason that we have won Test matches in England, Australia, Pakistan and West Indies. Don’t say that this man doesn’t bleed for Indian cricket and that he is more concerned about making money than playing cricket. Not only is that wrong, but it is merely the envious back biting of bitter critics who neither know victory nor defeat. Yet, there was a failure in strategy at the World Cup and he along with Greg Chappell must be partly blamed for that. The rest of the blame must fall on the selectors and the BCCI because they are as much a part of the Indian team as are the 15 playing members. The World Cup failure is as much their failure as it is Dravid and company’s. A year ago, Chappell had these prophetic words, “Ignore youth at your peril” ,“Only one of the best fielding sides will win the World Cup”, yet the Indian team that went to the World Cup was none of these and exited after the first round, shown up by hungrier and sharper teams. Chappell couldn’t follow through on his vision and I don’t see him succeeding in implementing it, maybe it was because he had too many detractors in India, but if that is the case I don’t see the system changing quickly enough for him to succeed. In the end I was glad to see him beat down the inflammatory questions thrown at him by the intemperate members of the Indian media at his last press conference at the World Cup.
I am more concerned about who will be Captain than who will be the Coach. At present, I don’t see anybody else who is more suited to Indian captaincy than Rahul Dravid. Bringing back Ganguly as captain would probably be the most myopic thing Indian cricket can do. Among the younger players, Sehwag remains an enigma in the one day games and Yuvraj Singh, probably our best one day player, hasn’t yet proven himself in the Test matches. Even if we appoint someone as the captain of the one day team only, we are in effect grooming him to take over the Test team within a couple of years. This factor alone is the reason why I wouldn’t name Yuvraj as the one day captain, yet.
If we take a look at our itinerary for the rest of the year; apart from Bangladesh, we have three arduous away tours against England, Pakistan and Australia. I would retain Rahul Dravid as captain till the end of the year, study the performance of the younger players on the three tours and pick the best young player to be the Captain of the one day team; it could be Sehwag, Yuvraj, Irfan Pathan, Dinesh Kaarthik or Mohd. Kaif. In fact we will be pretty sure who the candidate is mid way through the Australian tour and can even appoint this person to lead the one day team for the Tri-series in Australia in January 2008. Let us give the new captain plenty of leeway to slowly build his one day team and by the time the next World Cup rolls around in 2011, he would not only have refreshed the one day outfit, he would also have graduated to being the Test match Captain.