Ok, This is going to be my last Rohit Brijnath post. (for the day!)
And this time I’m not just going to link it. (In case at some stage in the future the link’s lost, I’m gonna cut and paste the whole thing.)
This was somewhat of an Open Letter to Greg Chappell. The circumstances are self explanatory.
If its incisive journalism that you’re after , read this – yes, even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. (Its dated 11 March 2006).
See, Greg, this is what happens. Eventually when a man fails to draw a line for himself, others must roughly do it for him. How demeaning for a cricketing board, that few in India think of as professional, to instruct you to behave like one. And worse, have everyone agree. It’s ironic really. There’s this recurring vision we have of you, an erect, austere man demanding discipline from his team, yet now failing to do so yourself.You’re a generous man, rarely refusing a conversation on cricket, respected for your intelligent deconstructing of the game. But a man given to introspection should have also figured out, enough, let Ganguly be. It would be the smart thing, it would also be the decent thing.A lot of people sided with you when Ganguly lost his captaincy, but in your lingering fury over this man, maybe you forgot one thing. For all Ganguly’s faults, he was our captain, and an inspirational one once, and if we criticised him occasionally, we also deeply admired him.
Ganguly’s departure from the team was perhaps inevitable, but it was clumsy, even in a way humiliating, but people eventually accepted it. What they won’t accept is your disrespect of him. A man has lost his place, there is no further need for him to lose face. Vendettas are the pursuit of small men. Stirring a dead issue is poor tactics.
Sure it’s easy for people to say we’re passionate, illogical, romantic about cricket, but ask yourself this: if Sunil Gavaskar was Australia coach and bagged the national captain, whatever his flaws, every chance he got, what would Australia think?
You forgot, too, that whatever the grumblings in the dressing room about Ganguly, in a time before you got there, these men adored him, some were made by him, and they’ll be uneasy. They’d wish you’d just shut up. They’ll wonder if they fall out of favour will you mangle them in public, too.
This team has shown fresh purpose, its one-day record has improved substantially, its ideas are interesting, but achievement, in whatever measure, is being obscured often by controversy. In a way you’re only making your own job harder. Your philosophy must be sold not distracted from.
If Ganguly in the past few months had become an obsession with us, so it was for you. Sure we couldn’t ask enough questions, but you couldn’t give enough answers. But no man need speak his mind all the time, for there is wisdom in silence and a power to restraint, and I’m not just talking about the Ganguly episode. Little is gained by giving diplomacy the finger. Maybe you believe you were just speaking the truth about how important the captaincy had become for Ganguly, but sometimes common sense must override the truth. Just about when you were confirmed in the India coaching job, you said “I don’t think (Tendulkar is) ever going to be the player he was”. This, perhaps, was the truth, too, but what benefit was to be found from such a public utterance? If every player in the team decided to speak his truth, there would be mayhem.
Some people are miffed that this particular interview arrived in an English newspaper, and it may not seem particularly relevant. But this much needs to be said. You are our coach, you are alongside Rahul Dravid, one of the public faces of our greatest passion. You can say what you want in the dressing room, or in the privacy of drawing rooms, but in public, to the world, you have to stand up for our players, your players. Always.
We understand being coach of India is not an easy job but we never said it was.
We don’t care where you come from and the fact that you kept your job and Ganguly didn’t is proof. We understand you might want to alter the system, but, hey, join the queue. We wonder if you think chaos precedes great change, but not only is India well-versed with chaos but it has always worked better with evolution rather than revolution.
India doesn’t need cricketing evangelism, there are too many dogmas in our game as it is. We want a team that wins and believes in each other, our team needs a coach who isn’t always struggling in controversy’s embrace.
We know you’re bright, and insightful, and informed. But we also expect you to be discerning, to be responsible, to understand and accept us — quirks, flaws, the lot — as much as we endeavour to understand you — quirks, flaws, the lot.
Some, maybe many, of us still believe you have the qualities to be a fine coach. Now show us our faith is not misplaced.