India play on despite the turmoil

Updated: 22 December 2007 06:39 IST

The chaotic world of Indian cricket hit a new low in 2007 with reluctant captains, invisible coaches and rebel games hogging the spotlight.


The chaotic world of Indian cricket hit a new low in 2007 with reluctant captains, invisible coaches, warring officials and rebel games hogging the spotlight.

The players attempted to stay focussed amid the discord and bedlam, but were unwilling victims in the storm that engulfed the cricket world's most powerful nation that drives the sport's economics.

Team India did well to recover from the humiliating blow of a first round knock-out from the World Cup in March-April where they were stunned by unfancied Bangladesh and eventual finalists Sri Lanka.

India won three consecutive Test series against Bangladesh, England and Pakistan, finished with a 20-15 winning one-day record and claimed the inaugural Twenty20 World title in South Africa.

The real test will, however, come over the next two months when India take on world champions Australia in four Test matches Down Under followed by a tri-series also featuring Sri Lanka.

"Australia is the benchmark every team sets for itself," former Test batsman and television commentator Sanjay Manjrekar said. "But some good individual performances gives me hope we will do well."

Sourav Ganguly, 35, sacked as captain and player by the then coach Greg Chappell, ended the debate over the future of ageing stars by hammering 1,023 runs from nine Tests with three centuries.

Sachin Tendulkar, 34, the world's leading century-maker with 37 Test and 41 one-day hundreds, was dismissed in the 90s seven times this year but remained in top form with 699 Test and 1,425 one-day runs.

Rahul Dravid, 34, had a lean year by his lofty standards - 585 runs in nine Tests - and was dropped from the one-day team, but remains India's most dependable batsman overseas.

The younger Yuvraj Singh, 26, inspired India's Twenty20 triumph with six sixes in one over from England's Stuart Broad and marked his overdue return to Test cricket with a century against Pakistan in Bangalore.

Sadly, the year will be remembered more for non-cricketing reasons that grabbed the headlines in the aggressive and competitive Indian media.

Chappell, the former Australian captain and batting great, quit as coach after the World Cup debacle in April, but it took eight months for India's bungling chiefs to find a replacement.

Graham Ford turned down the job, leading contender Dav Whatmore was not even considered and India were forced to make-do with temporary appointees like Chandu Borde and Lalchand Rajput before ex-South African opener Gary Kirsten was appointed.

Kirsten will offically take over only from March 1 which leaves India without a strategist for the tough Australian tour which began less than a week after a home series against Pakistan.

Dravid, reportedly fed up with the chaos around him, resigned from the captaincy after the England tour and senior pro Tendulkar politely declined the invitation to take over for a third stint.

The selectors finally settled for 37-year-old Anil Kumble as Test captain, preferring not to increase the workload of one-day and Twenty20 captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, also the team's wicket-keeper.

The ponderous cricket board, headed by political heavyweight Sharad Pawar, was rudely awakened when India's largest media company, Zee Telefilms, launched a breakaway Twenty20 league under the legendary Kapil Dev.

The Indian Cricket League promised to feature top stars, but only managed to sign on retired greats like Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul Haq and a host of domestic players who were subsequently banned from official matches.

It's ego hurt, Pawar's board hit back by announcing its own multi-million dollar Indian Premier League to be held in April-May next year with top stars from around the world and official sanction from the International Cricket Council.

The IPL may have further crowded the already cluttered international schedule and forced the Asia Cup one-day tournament to be put off from April to June, but the chiefs showed who the boss was.

Chief selector Dilip Vengarkar, a former Test captain, added to the drama by threatening to resign after being barred from writing or speaking to the media, but later relented to stay on.

It's business as usual in Indian cricket. There could be more of the same next year.

Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
Related Articles
Suresh Prabhu Announces Out-Of-Turn Promotions For Women Cricketers
Suresh Prabhu Announces Out-Of-Turn Promotions For Women Cricketers
Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan And Their 'Bromance' Ahead Of Sri Lanka Series
Hardik Pandya, Shikhar Dhawan And Their 'Bromance' Ahead Of Sri Lanka Series
Live score, India (IND) vs (ENG) England: England 61/2 In 15 Overs
Live score, India (IND) vs (ENG) England: England 61/2 In 15 Overs
Show Comments