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The ‘more’ may not always be ‘merrier’

By Sudeshna Guha Roy | Last Updated: Sunday, March 29, 2009 - 09:52
Sudeshna Guha Roy

It must have been a ‘eureka’ moment for John Buchanan when the idea of ‘rotating captains’ or ‘multiple captains’ struck him. Excited with the thought of revolutionizing the game of cricket, Buchanan brought the idea into limelight… little knowing that the concept would be least welcome.

The concept seemed to be more of a conspiracy to sideline Sourav Ganguly from the captaincy of the IPL team of Kolkata Knight Riders rather than an attempt to bring about a change in Twenty20 game.

The very thought of probably not having their very own and dear ‘dada’ in the lead role created havoc in his hometown… A roar of resistance erupted... effigies of Buchanan were burnt, slogans chanted… And thus, a mere idea ­ became a conspiracy and a sensational topic for everyone to discuss, just the way I am discussing it now…

Though it is hard to believe that Buchanan had no other intention in mind while framing the ‘rotating captains’ theory (by no other intention, I mean the one mentioned in the couple of paragraphs above), I wouldn’t mind giving him the benefit of doubt.

Let us keep aside the sensational Ganguly-Buchanan spat for a moment and think of the concept alone. Would it really be wise to have different captains for different aspects of the game? What good would it do to have a one skipper for batting, one for bowling, one for fielding and one for the toss as well?

The KKR coach seems to be an advocate of a very popular saying, “The more, the merrier.” But alas, that idiom doesn’t fit every situation.

While narrating his theory to the media, Buchanan said that it is better to have more than one brain working on a game plan. Earlier, in press conference Buchanan said, “I think with Sourav’s help, with [Chris] Gayle’s help, with [Brad] Hodge’s help, with [Brendon] McCullum’s help and with the help of the other players it will work fine.”

It is evident that the coach wants to have all the best brains of the team to work together and ensure a season for KKR unlike the previous one. But in attempting to improve the situation, Buchanan seems to have ended up messing it further.

The very idea of having to consult different people at different points in the game can lead to a confused situation. A team is led by a single leader, who has his own set of ideas or plans to implement and enforce. Inclusion of more people in the decision making process would do nothing but complicate the whole scenario. Rather than remembering the tactics of the game, it would be a more daunting task for a bowler to remember whom he is supposed to consult regarding his next delivery. “Who was the bowling captain? Was it Gayle of Ganguly?”

Every team is known by the captain it is led by. Team India now has a different charm and style of playing under the current captain MS Dhoni than what it had under Rahul Dravid. Thus, shuffling skippers would not only confuse the team’s style of playing, but also its outlook.

Consider a hypothetical situation where jobs have been segregated for different people and we have four different skippers for a single match. Despite the job specialization, one cannot rule out the possibility of opinions and ego clashes between the four ‘leaders’. Polarization within the team would be inevitable and this would negatively affect the game.

Even a country with a decentralized power system has a single ultimate authority, the President.

South African coach Mickey Arthur voiced the same opinion. “I favour the one-captain situation because everybody in the team is clear about who is in charge at all times,” said the Proteas coach. “If you have more than one guy as leader, you don’t know whom to turn to.”

Many would nullify the argument by simply saying “let us give it a chance”, and things like even “Twenty20 were alien to us when they came, but now it is the most popular of all”. Well, there is no harm in experimenting. The world is always evolving and so can the game of cricket.

With the criticism and the resistance revolving around the ‘rotating captains’ ideology, it is not clear as to what extent the idea would be implemented. Though I fear a complete mess up, I would be lying if I say I would not like to see a glimpse of it.

For only time will tell if the Archimedes of the Kolkata Knight Riders will indeed have a ‘Eureka’ show in South Africa.

First Published: Sunday, March 29, 2009 - 09:52

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