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Spring cleaning in world cricket
by Gulu Ezekiel
Apr 20, 2007
The shake-up in world cricket has begun even before the World Cup has ended.

Back in 2003, the most significant changes were in the leadership of South Africa and Pakistan. Both teams flopped miserably. Subsequently, Shaun Pollock was replaced by Graeme Smith and Waqar Younis by Inzamam-ul-Haq.

In the current hothouse atmosphere of international cricket, it is rare that a captain lasts for more than four years. Sure enough, Inzamam has stepped down from the captaincy (and quit ODIs too) and been replaced in both forms of the game by young all-rounder Shoaib Malik.

Shoaib though was not the first choice of the selectors. Why Younis Khan continues to demand his pound of flesh every time the leader’s mantle is bestowed on him (the previous occasion was the Champions Trophy late last year), one may never know. Perhaps he has come to realize that the captaincy of Pakistan is like a poisoned chalice. The young Shoaib may discover that sooner rather than later with senior players like Mohammad Yousuf—whose self-proclaimed claims to the captaincy were ignored—breathing down his neck.

Coach Bob Woolmer’s death has left a void. He had announced he was stepping down just hours before his tragic end. It seems certain that no foreigner will be keen on following in his footsteps.

Rahul Dravid can perhaps consider himself lucky that he has retained the captaincy though coach Greg Chappell’s controversial innings has come to an end.

Another one fortunate to dodge the axe is England captain Michael Vaughan. Again it is the coach, Duncan Fletcher, who has paid the price. Peter Moores takes over.

Brian Lara jumped before he was pushed. He had already announced he would play his last ODI in the World Cup. But talk of him being replaced in the Test side to England later this year by Ramnaresh Sarwan must have pricked his ego. He smartly pre-empted the selectors by stating at the end of Thursday’s match against Bangladesh that Saturday’s game against England would be the last of his international career.

It seems certain that coach Bennett King will follow him too. As will another Australian, John Buchanan who has already stated this World Cup will be his last assignment as Australia’s coach. Ireland’s captain Trent Johnson has also hinted at retirement. That leaves only Bangladesh among those sides that reached the Super 8. Captain Habibul Bashar’s achievement in taking his side this far is enough to ensure he keeps his job. Coach Dav Whatmore though has stepped down. Perhaps he is still eyeing the Indian post.

No dramatic announcements are expected come what may in the semifinals. The captains of Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa all look secure in their jobs for the time being at least.

 
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