Chappell has to resign to the fact that he will have to produce results
The year gone by saw Indian cricket keep the media extremely busy, with off-field events being more interesting than the exploits of Team India.
There were some high spots at the start of the year, but the overall performance was not up to the mark despite an overseas series triumph abroad outside the sub-continent. The second half of the year saw a change of guard with Greg Chappell taking over John Wright and Rahul Dravid from Sourav Ganguly. There are bound to be teething problems when any new regime takes over, but what happened in Indian cricket was something unique.
The spat between Chappell and Ganguly started off as a seemingly one-off incident, but no one could have guessed the extent to which that incident could assume significance. The influence of the under currents between Chappell and Ganguly gradually permeated into the administration leading to the bitter fight during the BCCI election.
However, the plot thickened further with the selection committee getting caught in a dilemma with respect to Ganguly's future. Their views varied almost on an hourly basis and the contradictory statements from Kiran More ended up providing extra ammunition for the press.
More, whose reactions were good on either side of the stumps during his playing days, came a cropper in the post selection press conferences. In fact, his statements were one of the reasons for Ganguly's exclusion assuming gigantic proportions. The exclusion of a long-time performer was nothing new in the annals of Indian cricket, but Ganguly's exclusion was used in some quarters as a potent weapon to stow hot water under the feet of the current administrators.
The drama ended with More and co biting the bullet and including him on the tour of Pakistan.
Amidst all the confusion during the latter part of the year, Sachin Tendulkar reached yet another huge milestone. The inference that can be drawn out of the Ganguly episode is that Indian cricket will never shed its vagaries. Chappell has to resign to the fact that he will have to produce results though some things will remain unaltered. The New Year assumes significance for both Ganguly and Chappell and though they are not on the same wavelength in many ways, their top priority is the 2007 World Cup!
The coach can be certain of being a part of the team until the World Cup but it remains to be seen if Ganguly can sustain that long. With the Dravid Chappell combination wanting to change the face of Indian cricket, the former successful skipper will be in the same situation as a fresher.
If Ganguly comes good, he will only add to the healthy competition but Indian cricket can take solace from the fact that there have been a couple of gains in the bygone year, in the form of M.S. Dhoni and Irfan Pathan.
Dhoni has come through with flying colours with the bat, but he still has to spruce up his keeping. Pathan is emerging as an all rounder no doubt, but his strike rate with the ball is far more important for the team. We all have heard enough about looking at the future, but it is about time Indian cricket stopped dilly dallying when tough decisions have to be made.