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TEAM INDIA SPECIALS


Javagal Srinath and a host of others speak on India’s newfound ‘happiness’

Thursday, April 09, 2022



Song Remains The Same


Sai Mohan


Mumbai:
These shells were discovered a while ago, so were the maces. The theatre of war remains the same and so does the fan following and expectancy. The school of thought hasn’t changed either but the schooling ground has.

Enter: the newfound freedom of thought.

Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan were revealed as would-be superstars in the late 90s but it wasn’t until in recent times that they have delivered with regularity. Stalwart Sachin Tendulkar credits “the change in mindset”

“We are a happy unit now. The whole team is pulling in one direction. Nowadays the Indian dressing room is a happy house,” Tendulkar said a few weeks back.

Tendulkar’s recent ‘happiness’ statements poses the question - was the Indian team unhappy in the past? If not, why the constant reiteration of a newfound happiness.

Performance upshots ‘Happiness’
Javagal Srinath, who was an integral member of the Indian team that initiated the end of the overseas winning drought under the astute leadership of Sourav Ganguly, attributes a team’s happiness to the only reason that matters, performance.


Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men were Tuesday hailed as India's "best ever" cricket team after winning the country's first Test series in New Zealand in 41 years. © AFP
“The sole reason for the Indian team’s happiness is that they are performing consistently well. A team is not happy when it loses and that’s the only way of looking at it. I am a firm believer in that. All these dressing room politics are nonexistent. People just make them up. It is purely a case of a team winning or losing. There is always unity, and there has always been enough unity in the Indian team,” Srinath told cricketnirvana.com

“No team likes to lose.”

However Kiran More and Sunil Joshi, who were a part of the Indian team in the 90s, feel the team was always a happy bunch, regardless of winning or losing.

“I have never experienced any incident when there was a rift. Tendulkar feels it is a happy house now because of high spirits. Players keep changing and once you start winning everything sounds good,” Joshi says.

“We were always a happy bunch of boys. Today the team is winning so it is easy to make these statements. We won the World Cup in the 80s and were as successful as a team. It is baseless if you assume that there wasn’t harmony in the dressing room,” More says.

Financial security
Promising young batsman Subramaniam Badrinath may fail to represent India in a single game over the next 12 months but he has an annual income of 40 lakhs waiting to be claimed. The highly praised contract-system of BCCI is working wonders, Joshi feels


© AFP
“There is so much financial security these days and it forces the players to be physically and mentally fit for the entire 12 months of the year. This kind of money helps improve the mindset of a player and he is able to perform more freely,” Joshi said.

Srinath reckons a fixed annual salary can help a player’s mindset, to some extent.

“Handing a contract to a player is like an investment. The youngster must look at upgrading himself and work towards becoming a better cricketer because the selectors and the board have decided to entrust faith in him.”

However Srinath reckons that is a flipside to the contract system.

“If the player is being complacent because there is an annual cheque waiting, then I doubt he will last too long in the top level. He must use the opportunity to his benefit, because when you are handed a BCCI contract, you can avail of innumerable benefits and top-class coaching and facilities and enhance skills,” Srinath opines.

The IPL Factor
Srinath supports Ashish Nehra’s claim that IPL has helped bring fading cricketers back to the limelight and has helped cricketers transcend into different levels.

“It has emerged as the middle ground between national and international cricket. IPL is helping cricketers develop their character. As far as skills are concerned, the dimension of the format helps produce good ODI and Twenty20 cricketers for India but I have my reservations about it producing good Test cricketers.”

“But the good thing is that since a player undergoes so much pressure in the IPL, he might just translate into a better player and succeed in all forms of the game.”

“You can’t select more than 15 players for Team India but a few domestic are not all that disheartened these days because of the IPL. If anything, it should help in the long run.

Just Momentary…
Despite crediting IPL for providing a platform for young players to undergo the pressures of top-class cricket, Srinath, who played in 67 Tests, reckons pressure in the IPL is just brief and cannot prove to be the basis for judging a player’s true potential.

“If you lose a Test match, the anguish you suffer lingers for a longer time. But the pressure of losing an IPL game is just momentary. You can easily bounce back in the next game and get back to winning ways. This is precisely why IPL has a lot of lesser aspects involved and is easier for some players to stake their claims,” Srinath reckons.

‘No need of backing’
Gone are the days when a captain would vouch for a player at a selection meeting or a coach would give undue importance to his favourite lad. There was, indeed, the episode involving RP Singh during the one-day series against England but it was over hyped.

“The primary reason for this team’s success is that the players don’t need any backing. The system is so transparent today. Any man walking the street can name the 15 best players in the country. This was not the case before since the domestic circuit didn’t get enough coverage and there was no IPL. Now the core team selects itself,” Joshi said.

A famous write once said “teamwork doesn't tolerate the inconvenience of distance.” That is food for thought for ‘star individuals’ who feel they are bigger than the team.


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