The message is loud and clear

Greg Chappell with Sourav Ganguly. One wonders who really calls the shots — the coach or the captain.-V.V.KRISHNAN

HOW does one describe Indian cricket? As of now, India seems to have a national team becoming steadily infamous for lack of performance, discipline and motivation. All the other international teams have cricketers passionate in taking pride in performing for their country. They don't have star status. We in India have created a society of stars at the national, domestic and even at the junior level. The earlier you become a member of that society, the longer you survive in this game.

What one read about the indiscipline of players on the eve of departure to Zimbabwe was not as bad as when one got to see it firsthand. The disarray of the players arriving late in the evening had already frustrated Greg Chappell. And with the media waiting to complete the pre-scheduled press conference, the delay was chaotic. The players had no concern for the magnitude of the mess prior to the departure. And Greg Chappell storming to his room made headlines, but with the media, rather than the players, appearing to be the problem.

Sourav Ganguly loved to keep Steve Waugh waiting for the toss. Now another Australian, the Indian coach Greg Chappell, is kept waiting. Chappell learnt his first lesson in Sri Lanka. The Mumbai fiasco was the second lesson. The message is quite clear. We belong to the Society of Superstars. We have our ways of running the team. All must follow us.

What does Greg Chappell do? Wear the De Bono thinking caps himself? One can imagine how Greg Chappell must be feeling. Terribly frustrated. There are drugs available for anti-depression but haven't heard of any anti-frustration drugs for us to recommend to him.

Again there is this cricketing comedy. The BCCI has asked players to explain the reason for their late arrival. Again we don't know whether to laugh or cry. What action would the BCCI contemplate for the late arrival of captain Sourav Ganguly? The coach of the Indian team for the Toronto tournament Sandeep Patil's contract was to be renewed after the tournament in 1996. Instead it was terminated. Reason? He had dropped Sourav Ganguly in one of the matches in that tournament. After nine years, Ganguly still calls the shots.

The more BCCI fights for him and wins the battle, the bigger his crown becomes. To all who love the game, the game is bigger than the individual. We are now reminded that, in the modified version, Indian superstars are bigger than the game. Greg Chappell has two options. Either continue to believe in the original version of the adage and act tough or pack his bags and say sayonara to Indian cricket.

For years Sunil Gavaskar has been saying in Hindi "Cricket khelna hai to khelo. Ye aisa hi chalega." It means if you want to play cricket, then play. This is the way things will go on.

The BCCI has now decided to review the accountability aspect of the support staff. That's what we have been asking for. But shouldn't they be setting up another committee to supervise the contracted players, whether they are adhering to the clauses in the contract or violating them?

Sandeep Patil's contract as coach was not renewed in 1996 on a flimsy ground.-N. SRIDHARAN

With the BCCI likely to get big money through telecast rights, cricketers representing their respective associations obviously would be benefited to a large extent. What guarantee that the standard of the game will improve? To a thorough professional, money ceases to be a motivating factor but to mercenaries it's Vitamin-M that motivates. It's the ego that will create problems. Commitment will be at a discount.

Roger Bannister, the first person to run a four-minute mile, claimed that "In the joy of going all out, I forgot my pain". His suffering was overshadowed by accomplishment, but some of the Indian cricketers play to enjoy only when things are smooth. They seem to remember the pain as soon as the going gets tough.

Why is the BCCI averse to suggestions by many former cricketers of having a performance-oriented payment scheme the way many corporates have? With the performance blocks to aim for, players will strive to perform consistently. At the moment, whether one performs or not, they get the basic payment which is huge and unthinkable especially when they get it without even performing.

More than getting support staff from Australia, Greg Chappell should make a presentation about the aspects which would make the players more committed and disciplined. It's sad that at international level, one has to think of disciplinary measures but when things threaten to get out of hand, one has to act.

The advantage of getting Greg Chappell is to take Indian cricket to a different level. And if the factors required to attain that level are not taken care of, then it's pointless having Greg Chappell to be the head of the team. If we are not going to utilise his specialities, then we might as well hire any former Indian cricketer and that will save us a lot of foreign exchange.

Let's stop talking about the 2007 Word Cup. India is not the only country thinking about it. Others too are preparing for it. The difference between us and other countries is their preparations are visible. We talk, we plan, but we don't implement. Our preparations are on the drawing board. It's a syndrome of think, think and think but don't know when and how to act to win matches. Again we are told we must have patience. For how much longer? Ignominious defeat is hard enough to swallow, without the knowledge that it was well-deserved.