Friday, January 09, 2009

Last words

2008 is in the books and who better than Sambit Bal to give a comprehensive review of the happenings across the playing fields and beyond. The review is in two pieces - part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Here's his take on MS Dhoni, the golden boy whose captaincy is still in the honeymoon phase. His first hiccup was in not pursuing a 2-0 verdict against England, but that was completely overshadowed by his so-far successful reign as the skipper.
India are lucky to have found Dhoni to take them through a crucial hour of transition. He has shades of Sourav Ganguly's leadership qualities, and on the evidence of his few matches in charge, greater tactical nous. Most of all, he seems immune to the media, which as Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble found, often poses a much greater challenge to Indian captains than opponents on the field. So far, admittedly, he is yet to taste the kind of press that drove Dravid and Kumble to distraction, and he has maintained an aloof, and in fact slightly amused, air about media criticism.

As captain he doesn't seem burdened by precedents or shackled by the fear of consequences. There is a method to his tactics, but he has allowed himself to be guided by his instincts. In some ways he is an old-school captain, not given to over-theorising or over-reliance on the laptop, and guided instead by a cricketer's reading of situations. As a result, his decision-making has come across as uncomplicated and uncluttered. He also seems to possess that intangible thing that all successful captains need: luck.

There will be days when his plans misfire and luck deserts him. That will be his true test. Last year was one in which he could do no wrong. Still, all signs suggest he will be all right
While on skippers, a man who went from hero to zero (or worse) in the blink of an eye has spent many years on the outside. But, luckily, it appears that the (perceived) sins of the father are not hampering the progress of the sons. Mohammad Azharuddin's older son is being recruited by the IPL. Here's hoping he cares a niche for himself and outdoes his father on the field. Also, the younger son has been spotted, too, and if anything, is a bigger chip off the old block than his elder brother.

Finally, Aakash Chopra was recently shown the door by the BCCI, effectively ending any hope he had of playing for India again. He has gone back to blogging for CricInfo but here and there you can glimpse the pain he feels from not getting a chance to represent the country again.
Now that we're home and with our families, we must make the most of it as we really don't know what the future has in store for us. Though, personally, I wouldn't mind staying away on New Year's Eve with the Indian team once again.
His first book, Beyond the Blues, is releasing this week and I am looking forward to owning a copy soon.

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