Captains are an endangered species | Sunday Observer

Captains are an endangered species

3 January, 2021

Captains are an endangered species! So when a person takes on those spurs, they do so with their eyes open. Life on the turf is such that when a team wins all accolades go to every member of the team, but when the team loses it is the captain and coaching staff that have to cop the flack.

And it was no different when India lost the first of four Test matches at Adelaide as Australia trounced India by eight wickets with nearly two and a half days to spare.

It shamed Indian cricket. Millions of fans and some former cricketers were shocked that India was bowled out for 36. Although the score book will show that India was 36 for 9 with Mohommad Shami unable to bat, in cricketing parlance it is good as having been all out.

Being all out for 36 no doubt is shameful. Yes, there have been other teams that have been bowled out for lower scores. But India came ‘down under’ with a strong team led by the heavy scoring ‘king’ Kholi and were expected to humiliate the Aussies.

Skipper Kholi is to visit Mumbai to see his first born just before the birth and may not play in the next Three Tests.

Now there is a deafening cry putting the blame on the coaching staff – Ravi Shastri (head coach), Bhart Arun (bowling coach) and Ramakrishna Suthar (fielding coach) and baying for their removal.

Now any sensible cricketer will ask the question: it was not the coaching staff that were involved in the batting debacle. Coaches can show and tell their players how to play. If the players are unable to adjust and play according to the situation, then the players are to blame and not shoot down the coaching staff.

In India where cricket is a religion, winning is not the thing, it is the only thing. Losers are ‘Outcasts’ winners are heroes. India has enough ‘dug out’ strength to take Kholi’s place and it is hoped India will regain their lost reputation and come back strongly and prove to be worthy opponents in the next Tests.

The Indian batting in the second innings was blasted by some intelligent and well controlled seam and swing bowling by Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins not seen for a long time. The Aussies will be hoping that they continue the same form now that they have their tails up after instilling fear into the Indian batsmen in the remaining Tests.

In wicket keeper/batsman Tim Paine the Aussies have a strategic captain who makes the bowling changes expertly and places the field intelligently. True former skipper Steve Smith is waiting impatiently to regain the slot he lost with the ball tampering affair in South Africa. But there is no reason why the Aussie selectors must rush to install Smith again.

Smith relieved of the burden of captaincy is batting at his best. He has proved his amazing form in the games he has played recently and it will do his game a lot of good if he forgets the captaincy and concentrates on his batting which is good for him and overall for the team. That he was out for zero in the first innings of the Second Test is one of those inevitable things.

With the Aussie pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins being unplayable with their amazing pace and seam and swing and the occasional dangerous bouncer, the Aussies are sure to prepare pitches favourable to Hazlewood and Cummins supported by left arm seamer Mitchell Starc.

India will have a new leader in Ajainka Rahane to pilot their cricketing ship. Captaincy is no easy task and if he could lead India to victory in the next games he should prove a challenge to take over the captaincy from Kholi. Captaincy is 90 per cent luck and 10 per cent talent and it will be interesting to see whether Rahane has these attributes so essential in sport.

As for the Sri Lankans led by left handed Dimuth Karunratne they will be looking to repeat the success they achieved during the previous tour to Protea Land.

The South Africans will not forget the blazing knock by left handed dazzler Kusal Janith Perera who with last man Vishva Fernando made mincemeat of the African attack playing some audacious strokes score a big unbeaten 153 to win the first Test which showed the way to also win the secod Test and with it the series.

The Lankans have 21 players with them and with chief selector and manager Asantha de Mel there along with coach Mickey Arthur also there who knows the wickets and conditions, picking the best team to see the Lankans doing well will be no problem. Let’s hope the Lankans can reproduce the form they showcased on the previous tour and win this series too.

Bradman’s ‘baggy green’ cap

Sir Donald Bradman was a world cricketing legend during his time, that was from the time he sported the ‘baggy green’ cap on his debut in 1928.

Bradman the right-hander who is no more was a craze during his time. His Test batting average of 99.94 still stands unbroken after 72 years and is not likely to be broken till the end of time.

Bradman’s 99.94 batting average would have gone past the 100 mark had not England left arm spinner Eric Holies bowled him for a duck in his farewell innings.

When he walked to take strike in his final innings Bradman would have been choking with emotion as the crowd stood up to put their hands together to give him claps that sounded like thunder claps and the England team formed an arch for him to walk through. That he could not play one of his master class final innings are the cruelties of this wonderful game.

Bradman’s ‘baggy green’ cap that he sported on debut was sold recently for Australian dollars 450,000 to businessman Peter Freeman.

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