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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The World Cup doesn't make a difference to the Indian captain

rahul dravid, india cricket captainAddressing a press conference in Mumbai, on the eve of Team India's departure for the West Indies, Dravid said he would not be under any added pressure because he was leading the side in this, his third, World Cup. "I've never viewed going into a tournament as being under less or more pressure. Obviously as captain there are some more responsibilities, the hunger to perform and to do well for the team does not matter if I am a captain, vice-captain or just a player," he said. "It does not make a difference to me. "

Dravid also dismissed the idea of the World Cup being "a final frontier", a term made much famous by the very successful ex-Aussie captain, Steve Waugh.
Just as the Indian captain was giving this soundbytes to the Indian media in Mumbai, a few hundred miles up northwest in Varanasi, a crowd of a thousand plus were participating in a "Shubhkamna Yatra". The procession moved towards the Ganges where they offered prayers to 11 cricket bats.

Now I'm not justifying the actions of these Varanasi crowd or anything, but the Indian captain needs to understand that he is not just leading any other nation into the Cricket World Cup - but India, which is home to close a billion cricket fans including millions of cricket fanatics like the ones at Varanasi. Even outside home, the stadiums in quite a few other countries are filled up with more Indian fans than locals. The Indian team doesn't need a Barmy-Army to travel across the world supporting the team, there is one, often more than one in every cricket centre across the world. Dravid needs to factor this in before speaking - he has a responsiblility, unlike any one else in the world.

Even if I were to remove the above factors for the sake of an argument, Dravid's words were unbecoming of any leader. How can the World Cup not make a difference? How can his being the captain not make any difference to him? Shouldn't it goad him on, motivate him only that much more. Can you even imagine Mike Brearley or Saurav Ganguly or Mark Taylor even saying that?

A World Cup win can stir the nation, leave a billion people happier, i would daresay that - even if temporary, the Sensex will rise. It makes a difference to me, Mr. Dravid and it makes a difference to a billion more like me. And I'm sad that we have chosen someone like you to lead us - someone, to whom it doesn't make a difference.
Read this quote by Dravid to see for yourself how amibitious / aspirational / inspirational my cricket captain is:
" India is one of the most dangerous ODI teams. There will be 7-8 teams that will be capable of winning the World Cup, and I want India to be one of them."
Now who can stop India from being one of the top 7 or 8 ? Is he fearing Bangladesh whom me see in our first match on the 17th March or Bermuda?!!
Want more gems from Dravid? I quote the Indian captain again.
" The World Cup is a big event, but i don't think you can base your career on winning it. There's a lot more you can achieve. You can't judge everything from one tournament."


shakester said...

ah, a tad harsh don't you think?

I see where you are coming from, and get that completely. To a nation as crazy as ours, the World Cup is not just another tournament, nossir.

While his words may not be the best chosen, I think there are 2 things about his comments-
- he means he is as motivated and driven to play for India irrespective of whether he is captain or not.
- he's trying to play down the hwole pressure angle by saying that all tours/tournaments have their share of pressure.

Amit Bajaj said...

my point is simple - he is probably India's most popular leader. He has to behave like one - sometimes even if that goes against his grain.

Pri said...

i just wrote this long comment which magically disappeared. anyway quick summary. i agree with u. i was also pretty annoyed when i heard dravid this morning. the timing sucked since were talking last press conf/interview before the team left for the world cup. i just needed to see some excitement from the man. as a cricket fan its important for me to know that the 'captain' is at least half as excited as me. is it too much to ask?

Abhigyan said...

I remember having this debate with you, of Dravid being a middle-class captain, blah blah..I totally understand where Dravid is coming from..In fact, recently when he crossed 10000 ODI runs, he put down that achievement also...The moot point being that you first need to be good to play so many ODIs..If you play them well as a batsman, you are bound to get there (dare I say more so if you hail from the subcontinent)...
The point Dravid is trying to make a World Cup is one aspect of game, which also boils down to a lot of luck & politics in the end (Kenya making the semis last time?). It is a pressure deflating tactic, like Indo-Pak matches are supposed to be like any other, when me and you know they are anything but any other match.
And the 7-8 teams likely might look ridiculous, but boy he is dead eight.. Can't think of any other World Cup as open as this..especially with Oz suspect now..Wait till I put my blog on the subject.