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Dravid's exit: Is BCCI bothered?
September 14, 2007
It was a shocker, not only for cricket fans worldwide but also for his own team mates, as Rahul Dravid [Images] announced his decision to step down as captain of the Indian cricket team, in both versions of the game.
"I am not aware of Dravid's resignation. It is news to me. It has come as a shock, I can't really make any comment," a senior member of the Indian team told rediff.com.
It was a totally unexpected decision coming on the back of a famous Test victory in England [Images], achieved after a long gap of 21 years.
The skipper should have been hailed for this wonderful achievement. After the narrow escape in Lord's, Dravid show great leadership skills as the team turned around to win the second Test at Trent Bridge, a result that helped India win the series.
Instead of recognizing his contribution, he was pilloried for not enforcing the follow-on in the third Test. The decision was not totally his, but his main aim then was to ensure that India bagged the Test series, and to him it did not matter whether the margin was 1-0 or 2-0.
Then followed the loss in the one-day series, where India lost a close series 3-4, and all the joys of the victory in the Tests were forgotten. In fact, Dravid's leadership was questioned time and again, as India went 1-3 down in the series and a wipeout seemed imminent.
Therefore it was no surprise that out of the blue, India's most dependable batsman chose not to lead the side anymore, despite a track record of series victories in England and West Indies [Images] and also the Test victory in South Africa.
So who is to be blamed for this sudden change of mind by Dravid?
It is none other than the Board of Control for Cricket in India and its hunger to fill in its coffers. Throughout his tenure, there have been constant rumors of dissension within the dressing room; it was openly speculated, after the World Cup, that some of his senior colleagues had formed their own camps and were looking to depose him.
Yet, at no time did the BCCI take effective remedial action. All it did was hold 'inquiries' that were followed by statements suggesting all was well with the team, and that rumors to the contrary were nothing more than the mischief-mongering of the media.
The fact that the Board fluffed the job of appointing a successor to Greg Chappell [Images] meant that India had gone to England without a coach; this had put additional burden on Dravid, who had to take the responsibility for video analysis and strategy, in addition to all the other tasks of a captain.
The board could at the least have helped him out by bearing down on the troublemakers, by ensuring discipline in the dressing room and enforcing the supremacy of the captain. Instead, the board turned the proverbial Nelson's eye to the problem -- and is now paying for it.
Ironically, the board has not yet learnt from its mistakes. With just two weeks to go for the Australia one day series at home, the work of finding a coach is yet to begin; the officials apparently haven't had the time to assess the various contenders and come to a decision. But the same officials have been in overdrive, planning a new cricket league in an attempt to stymie the challenge of the ICL.
Clearly, the board's priority is its pocketbook; it expects the team to somehow stumble along, regardless.
What option does the board now have? It can bring back Sachin Tendulkar [Images] -- in fact, having named him vice-captain for the England tour, it has little choice in the matter; the board can hardly now elevate someone else to the captaincy while leaving Tendulkar a rung lower.
In elevating Tendulkar to the captaincy, though, the board will conveniently forget that he has held the post on two previous occasions and on both occasions, was sacked with the selectors arguing that the captaincy was affecting his batting. Is it likely that his batting will be less affected now, especially when he is considerably older than he was when he last held the captaincy?
Had the board planned ahead, and groomed one of the younger players for the captaincy, it would not be in this position -- but planning ahead is anathema for a board that lives in and for the moment.
It is to Dravid's credit that he has chosen to walk without stirring up a controversy -- he took the onus of the decision on his own desire to focus on his batting, and that lets the board off a very inconvenient hook.
Whether it was the inability to cope with so much pressure or the lack of support from a few seniors or the constant scrutiny from the media, you can never be sure what got to Dravid. But one this is sure -- the latest development is disappointing; its aftershocks are likely to be felt for the remainder of the season, and for a long time to come.