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Too much load on the Wall?
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jul 29, 2007
Has the curse of the Indian cricket captaincy claimed its latest victim? It would appear so from the lean trot currently being suffered by the incumbent, Rahul Dravid.

It’s been said that the job is the most pressured after that of the Indian Prime Minister and certainly the media scrutiny has increased enormously since the rapid rise in the number of 24-hour news channels in India over the last half-decade.

Dravid had led India off and on during Sourav Ganguly’s tenure whenever he had to sit out over various ICC rulings or through injury. He was formally entrusted with the job during the home series against Sri Lanka starting in October 2005 and has had mixed results since.

The low point for Dravid in particular and for Indian cricket in general was the World Cup disaster with the captain contributing 14, 7 not out and 60.

In fact in 50 ODI innings since taking charge, he has managed just two centuries.

The series earlier this year in South Africa saw him hit a new low—it was the first time in his career he had failed to score at least one half-century in a series consisting of at least three Test matches.

So far in England he has looked burdened at the crease. Could it be the lack of a full-time coach is beginning to vex him? Both Ravi Shastri in Bangladesh and Chandu Borde on the current tour have been stop-gap measures. It is really a crying shame that the world’s richest cricket board does not have a website on which it can advertise for candidates!

Whatever may be the views of such veterans as Ian Chappell, the modern-day cricket captain—particularly in the sub-continent—already has far too much on his plate. The coach can surely lighten his burden.

Dravid of course is not alone in being struck by the curse. Both his predecessors, Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar saw their form dip once they assumed charge.

When the captain suffers a slump in form, it affects the whole team’s morale. This had become obvious to unbiased observers of Indian cricket during the final year of Ganguly’s tenure when both his personal form and the fortunes of the side went through a slump.

Just as Tendulkar came back a better batsman when relieved of the burden after his first spell in charge (1996-98) and again after his second (1999-2000), so has been the case with Ganguly. A mind uncluttered with all the baggage of captaincy can concentrate so much more on batting and personal form rather than worrying about the entire team.

It is unfashionable for some reason in international cricket to appoint a bowler as captain. The last full-fledged bowler to lead India in Test cricket was Bishan Singh Bedi in the 70s. Kapil Dev in the 80s could be classified as a genuine all-rounder though bowling was obviously his main strength. With Dravid having emerged as India’s leading batsman since 2002, it would be for his own good and for the team’s if he can quickly regain his golden touch.

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