The next factor to worry about

NOW that Greg Chappell has taken over as the coach of the Indian team, we are worried about who will be leading the side.

NOW that Greg Chappell has taken over as the coach of the Indian team, we are worried about who will be leading the side. The moment that is decided, another debate will start as to who should be the future Indian captain.

Rahul Dravid has all the qualities required of a captain.-V. GANESAN

In Indian cricket, `hiring and firing' is reserved only for the captains who are at the mercy of officials, selectors, players in the team, the cricket-loving public and the media. Former Indian cricketers are always there to fuel controversy.

Some of these former cricketers were captains of the national team and were quite unceremoniously sacked with S. Venkataraghavan, getting to know from the airline pilot on the flight to India from UK in 1979. In the 1958-59 home series against the West Indies, four captains were changed in the five-Test series.

So, nothing new is happening now with Ganguly under fire but one has to be fair to Ganguly and Dravid. Ganguly is aware that if he continues to fail, he will be out of the side by Diwali because having failed with the bat, he can't hold a place in the team. But why not look at the positive side? Hoping that his stint with Glamorgan helps him get back to form, with some effective inputs from Chappell, we may see Ganguly in rejuvenated form as a player.

The controversy has erupted recently after Chappell's comment about Sehwag being the future captain. It does not necessarily mean Rahul Dravid is not to be considered and in any case if Chappell, even before meeting the selectors, is making his observation public, the BCCI will have to step in. Stamp left leg on the clutch and shift gears.

Sehwag immediately rushed to the rescue of Ganguly saying he is the best captain. Wouldn't Sehwag be willing to be loyal to the successor of Ganguly if he is out of the team? The worst thing that we get to see in a team game like cricket is that individuals have preference over the team. Rahul Dravid with that declaration with Tendulkar on 194, gave a hint that to him the definition of TEAM — Together Everyone Achieves More — is far more important than individual milestones.

Sehwag could be the future Indian captain but if he has to be groomed, he has to be given the opportunity to lead as many combinations as possible for him to learn the art of captaincy. And where did Greg Chappell see the spark of captaincy in Sehwag? Mumbaikars were dancing when Tendulkar was appointed India's captain but there were those few shrewd former India players who felt it was going to be a disaster. It was.

While one hopes Ganguly gets back to form, there is no better qualified person for the captaincy than Rahul Dravid. He possesses the vital ingredients required to handle the seat of India captaincy. The question of not leading in enough first class matches does not arise when talking about Dravid or Sehwag because they have been virtually running from one international venue to another.

What matters is the grasping of the subject, tact of handling the situation successfully and having a team culture in the dressing room. Greg Chappell may be a highly respected international player but for him to succeed in the totally different cricketing environment in India, he will need some time to build rapport with the selectors, captain and players.

Ganguly or Dravid have the best credentials to get the maximum out of Chappell and Chappell too will be able to convert his theory into practice through these two gentlemen. Chappell being a high profile figure, the intensity of media pressure on him and the Indian team will be much more than what it was during the time John Wright was coach. But Chappell says he has been trained for half a century, from childhood itself, to handle various situations and in the interest of Indian cricket he expects everyone to encourage the Indian team.

Virender Sehwag, if groomed properly, can learn the art of captaincy.-V. GANESAN

The difference between an average Australian and Indian is that for Australians, cricket is a team sport but for Indians cricket is religion with more emphasis on individual play. This unfortunately is a big hole that Chappell will have to plug at the earliest lest it becomes bigger with media pressure.

And finally, to anyone actually involved in Indian cricket at any competitive level, Sunil Gavaskar's `revelation' about Indian players cursing John Wright was not surprising but rather quite common. This is the dark side of India's cricketing culture, where you start off getting abused in a bad spot and adopt the attitude as a way of life. It is a matter of debate whether Gavaskar should have commented or left it to the media to speculate but the competitiveness in cricket is so tough in India that I have seen junior players hitting each other in most state teams.

Coaches kicking and slapping players. Coaches being ridiculed by players. Parents abusing their sons. Hitting them for not performing. And much of this is done in full view of the public.

While this does not necessarily teach young players to play better, it does teach them to devalue others' dignity. When these players make it to the big league, the apex being the national team, how can they be condemned for carrying on with an attitude that has been moulded into them? The only way to curb this problem at the root is penalising coaches and players heavily for breach of a code of conduct.