Vantage point

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pathetic Captaincy!!

Posting this immediately after the last ball of the Antigua test. I am very pissed off right now, so I might be a bit harsher on Dravid than he deserves, but this is just pathetic captaincy. A test win has been allowed to slip by due to his tactical inadequacy.

Firstly, it was obvious to everyone that Fidel Edwards made a conscious decision to stay away from Kumble's end, and was OK handling VRV Singh and Sreesanth. With this obvious discomfort against spin, Sehwag should have been tried from the other end. Placing 7-8 slips might be OK for someone with McGrath's accuracy and bounce. But no one else, certainly not Indian pacers. Yet the third-last over was given to Sreesanth and this ridiculously optimistic but foolhardy 7-slip field was placed.

The absolute howler was giving the last over to Sreesanth. Sreesanth does not handle pressure well. In fact I have never seen a bowler who is so obviously affected by pressure. The fact has been amply evident in one-dayers. Even in the first innings when the Windies were on a rampage, at one point Sreesanth got so nervous that he pulled up twice, back to back. His nervousness was there for all to see. In this over too his nerves let him down. You could see him sweating, trembling, and gesturing to himself to calm down. It was pitiful and as I was expecting, he pulled up once even in the last over.

Ideally, the ball should have been given to the experienced Sehwag. Even if Dravid wanted a faster bowler, he should have chosen the calmest of the lot, Munaf Patel. But he let his judgement be clouded by an earlier spell by Sreesanth where he dismissed Lara and Sarwan. Paying absolutely no attention to his proclivity to transform into a bundle of nerves. What was needed was a fast bowler who targeted the stumps most of the times, with probably a bouncer thrown in as a surprise.

What was on display however was the worst final-over in the history of the game. Even Collymore, one of the worst No. 11s in the world, is not bad enough to be dismissed off any of the balls. Wide, wayward, with just 1 ball in the trajectory of the stumps.

Yes, tomorrow with some perspective, I may feel more charitable towards Dravid, considering that the team fought back from the brink. But as of this moment, I am furious at such an obvious error of judgement.

What pisses me off even more is that Dravid has a wide smile on his face. No stabbing pain of having missed a test win. He has the "we tried our best but it didn't come off" satisfied attitude, and not the hungry disappointment that you would expect from an ambitious captain of a team with supposedly world-beating aspirations.