'This is the team that India wanted'
Greg Chappell spoke to Siddhartha Vaidyanathan on the World Cup, the players who made it to the squad and those who didn't, and the state of the game today. The full text of the interview:
How do you rate our chances at the World Cup?
It is impossible to tell, I don't have a crystal ball and for that reason I can't tell, I think we have as good a chance as most teams so it will depend upon who plays well during the tournament. Up until a few weeks ago Australia was a big favourite but Andrew Symonds' injury makes a big difference to their line-up. I think it's thrown things open. At the start of the tournament, you will have to think that there are probably seven teams who can win it if they played well; we are one of them.
Most of the teams are very even, it depends on who gets their balance right, who gets the breaks and who plays well. The tosses can make a big difference as we saw, anyone can beat anyone, England surprised Australia. If you play well on the day, you can beat anyone. There won't be any games that can be taken lightly in this World Cup.
This was a squad on expected lines, almost everyone expected this very squad to be picked, is that a good sign or it shows a lack of options?
There were options, whether it is a good sign or a bad sign only time will tell, but this is the team that India wanted.
We toured the West Indies six months ago; will that be an advantage for us?
It might or might not, it will depend on the conditions. If they are the same conditions as they were last year we have an advantage. But advantages mean nothing in a one-day game, the team that plays well on that day will win the game. The conditions may or may not have a bearing, there will be a lottery. You need to get the breaks at the right time. The four teams that get to the semifinal will be playing well and we want to be one of those.
Since returning from South Africa how much has the team gained?
We are playing better, we've probably got the balance better but we generally play better in India than anywhere else. Again we are going to go to the West Indies and it will depend on whether we play well in those conditions. But I think we have a better balance than we had in South Africa. Yuvraj, for a start, makes a big difference. Yuvraj in form is one of the best one-day batsmen in the world. The 20-40 over period will have a big bearing in the World Cup. The teams that play that period of the game well will do well. I think with Yuvraj in form we have a better chance of doing that well than we had in South Africa without Yuvraj.
Rahul said in Mumbai we will have to be smart with our placement of certain fielders. Indirectly, he conceded that fielding will be one point of worry with the squad we have, do you also feel that the positioning of the men will have to be really smart? Are you also concerned?
Concern may not be too strong a word, it is probably not strong enough. We are going to be conceding runs in the field to the better teams, there is no doubt about that. We understand that, we knew that when we picked the squad. We will have to organize ourselves accordingly and that means placing the right people in the right positions, the best positions to get the best out of what we got. We will have to work hard on our fielding all the way through to the major games to the World Cup. We can't afford to relax on that because there is going to a lot of low scoring, medium scoring games, below 200s, below 300s is going to be the norm. They will be close games so it's going to be very important, it's an issue that we are well aware of and we just have to work at it and do the best we can. Which means we have to be conscious, our batting has to find 30 extra runs a game and our bowlers will have to concede that many less. So between the two we will have to make up for 30 runs somewhere.
We have to reduce our deficit from 30 runs a game to 10 runs somehow, by taking those catches. We got to catch everything and somehow we have to save 20 runs a game. If we can do that then we can off set that disadvantage, we have to work really hard, we have been working really hard on the fielding and it's bearing some fruit. We can't relax on that area at any stage.
Was the Sourav-Sehwag in Goa one off, or you are open to bringing back Sehwag to the top of the order?
We have to use the combination the best way we can. The feeling in the camp is that Sehwag in form is a damaging player and we've got to give him every opportunity as an opener.
So there is an option that he may open, because when the team was announced Vengsarkar had clearly said he would bat in the middle order.
There has been a little bit of method in our madness over the time to try and stimulate players to get the best out of them so he is a proven matchwinner at the top of the order and if we can get him in form there then that's where he can do the most damage for us. That's the idea but if he is not performing then we may have to rethink that. Flexibility is going to be the name of the day, we will be picking the best team we can pick for each game and that will depend largely on the form.
Irfan Pathan is one of the key players for the balance of the team. How much does it affect the team?
Right now he's injured, so let him get fit first then we have to give him opportunities to get back into form. Again we picked the team on the basis of having the flexibility to cover most positions and his is the most difficult one to cover, though we do have Sehwag, Sachin, Yuvraj, who are allrounders, and somehow we've got to maximum their batting and bowling. With Irfan in form that is less of a headache than him out of form. So it will be a delicate balancing act to get Irfan and all the key players in form at the right time.
Three weeks to go for the World Cup, what are the things we need to fine tune and what are the strengths?
To get the key players in form is the critical exercise from here. I think we've got the balance that gives us some good flexibility. Twenty-five days is not long but about 35 to 45 days from the World Cup, we were even less sure of certain things. Yuvraj looks reasonably certain to be fit so that's something we have ascertained in the last 10 or 15 days. In the meantime, we have used Sachin in a different role and it has worked out really well for us so we have given ourselves another option by trying him in the middle order. Sourav Ganguly coming back into the team and playing well increases the options because he can take a key role at the top of the order which releases someone like Sachin to be used in the middle-order. Dravid at No 5 is a good option for us, if we can have Dravid sandwiched between Yuvraj and Dhoni it's a very good balance, Dravid can control the middle order and if he has some power players around that takes the pressure off him to hit boundaries all the time, he can play more to his strengths and when he is in that state when he is relaxed about that he hits a lot of boundaries himself. I think we are certainly in a better state than in South Africa, we have the middle-order balance which we did not have in SA. We needed to find some solutions (after SA) and we have gone a long way to find those solutions in the last four-five matches we have played.
What about Tendulkar at No 3?
I like him at 4, he also looks good at 5. The good thing is we have a lot of quality players to shuffle around, it's not that these are the guys whose ability we know nothing about, whose record we know nothing about; these guys are quality players who have succeeded over a long period of time. The line-up which we have had in the last ODI, if we have all of them in form we have a formidable batting line-up. Apart from Yuvraj and Viru everyone is in pretty much in form, which is a good sign. Over the next five games (including the last ODI here, two practice games and the first two World Cup group games) I would expect Yuvraj and Viru to make runs, so hopefully we will have the top six in form going into the first major game in the World Cup against Sri Lanka in Trinidad. If we can do that then we will be happy with the position we are in. Trying to mobilise all the 15 players will be the key, because we need to need to get all 15 players in form, not 10 or 11 as you never know when an injury will strike.
How important is No.6,7,8. We couldn't finish it off at Rajkot, how important a factor is it going to be?
A lot of teams in the competition would like to have our experience and quality in the top 6. You can't have everything. In an ideal world, we'd love to have 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 all quality batsmen. Dinesh Karthik's done a wonderful job for us. His innings at Rajkot was excellent, if he'd batted for another 10 balls we'd have won that game. He just got out. But that's all part of his learning experience and he'll be better for that experience. He's one player who has come from a long way back in the last month or so. Both innings in Cape Town, his innings in the Twenty20 match in South Africa showed his temperament and ability. He's going to be an important player for India in the future, and will be an important member of the WC squad. We will then hopefully have the bonus of Irfan coming back into the team and lending the balance.
It will depend a lot on conditions. If Trinidad is anything like it was last year, they're going to be pretty important matches. Tough wickets, low-scoring matches and you'll want all the batting you can get. Probably will lose some early wickets on that sort of pitch so you want as much depth as possible. You want Irfan back in form, because he gives us experience with the bat and also gives us a bowling option if we get wickets that might do a little bit for seam bowlers. We will want to play three seam bowlers in each match. We were forced in Rajkot because of injury and illness but ideally we'd like to have five bowlers in every game but that's not necessarily going to be possible. I'm not worried about that because Sachin has shown us how clever he can be with the ball, Viru is a more than competent offspin bowler and Yuvraj has played some important roles with the ball as well. So we have three better-than-part-time bowlers, in my view, who can take up the fifth-bowler option. The beauty is we have options. That's the best position to be in.
Going back to Karthik, what made you pick him ahead of Raina and Kaif in South Africa? Was that an act of desperation or did you think he could be an investment?
In my view, he was always a huge investment. I saw him in Bangalore 18-20 months ago and he impressed me with his ability with the bat. It was my first camp and we had some practice matches. He impressed with his thinking, his batting ability. He saw himself as a wicketkeeper who could bat. I spoke to him about looking at himself as a batsman who could keep wickets. He had the potential to be a top-order batsman in both forms of the game if he worked on his batting. I told him that. He's worked very hard on his batting. We took him to the West Indies more to give him some experience than a back-up wicketkeeper. Those who look at his selection as a back-up wicketkeeper have missed the point. We've picked him as a middle-order batsman and it's a bonus that he keeps wickets. It's a benefit for him - he becomes an allrounder. He fields quite well for someone who's spent a lot of time behind the stumps. He can keep wickets very well and he has the potential to be a very good international cricketer as a batsman. That is why I pushed hard for him for some time and decided to take him to the West Indies. We needed to spend some time with him on his batting. He's an eminently coachable young man and I've been very impressed ever since I met him and keen to give him opportunities. We took him to SA in the hope that we could give him those opportunities - we could have given him more but we had to give others a chance as well. It's a delicate balancing act all the way through. We had to give everybody opportunities to have options and Dinesh is one of those who's grabbed those limited opportunities.
You've spoken about playing 4-5 bowlers in all games. Also about how the middle overs are going to be crucial. How crucial are the spinners going to be in the World Cup, considering you're going to be playing in small grounds?
We need to have as many options as possible. From what we saw last year, the spinners will play a part on the grounds we played on. I can't speak for Barbados, Guyana, and Antigua - where we play. Historically Guyana is as flat as they come, it will be a good batting wicket, very much an Indian kind of wicket. Barbados will also be a good batting wicket. Antigua I have no idea because it's a new ground, new wicket. Trinidad will definitely be slow and low, maybe a bit up and down if it was anything we've experienced last time and if it's anything like what I've experienced in my 30 years of playing there. I think we're fairly fortunate that we've got 3 top-order batsmen who bowl more-than-adequate spin. Sachin does better than that - he can bowl seam up, legspinners, offspinners, left-handed if needed [smiles]. Spin is going to be important in the World Cup and could decide some of the matches in the tournament.
Have the wickets been relaid? Have you checked on that?
Jamaica was relaid, we played on that and have an idea. Trinidad was relaid, we played there. I think Barbados is being relaid. Antigua and Guyana have new stadiums. Grenada is being rebuilt but not relaid. But you would imagine that the soil remains pretty much the same. I can't imagine it being too different from what it was before. Spin is going to be important. Historically wickets in the WI tend to be on the slow side. You get the odd pitch at Barbados and Jamaica with good pace and bounce. But the rest of them have been on the slow side - more the subcontinental kind, slow and gripping. If you look at the recent history of one-day cricket, spin has had a major part to play. It's changed games, I think it will change games in the World Cup as well.
Zaheer has had a great run but is there a risk of him being burnt out?
We're conscious of it and are giving him a chance to rest when possible. Ten days of rest after this, 14 days before the West Indies before we start preparations for the WC. Key players will have to be managed well throughout the tournament. Zaheer is a key member and we need to ensure that. You can't afford to give guys too much time off, then they struggle to come back and get back into form.
India struggled against fastish spinners in the Windies. Jayasuriya posed problems for Dhoni in Rajkot ...
He's a very experienced bowler. He bowls at round about 4 runs per over. Don't consider him to be a part-time bowler. That's why they saved him for the last over. Dhoni's a much better player than he was 12 months ago. He's worked very hard on his batting and keeping - I think he's one of the most improved cricketers in world cricket in the last 12 months. He will continue to improve because he's got that kind of mindset. Eighteen months ago he was someone who would come in at the end of the innings and blaze away. Now we've got ourselves a quality middle-order batsman who can also hit the ball a long way. Yuvraj - he probably didn't do as well in the West Indies - but he'd been on a roll for a while before that. But in the history of cricket no one goes on the rampage forever. He's a good player and needs to be in the form that he was prior to the last West Indies tour. He did quite well in the first few games on that tour but had a back problem and struggled after that. I wouldn't read much into that before going into this tournament.
How crucial is the mental side of the game going to be in this world cup?
All teams will be under pressure and the teams that cope with the mental stresses best are the ones that get through to the final 4. That's something we have to be aware of. India got to the final 4 years ago and one would think they were mentally strong then. But what happened four years ago will be irrelevant. It's about how we think, how we plan, how we prepare and with a little bit of luck ... you never know. Something like 1200 or more ODIs in the top 5-6 players in our batting line-up, which is probably as much experience that any team's got. So one would hope that they know enough about the pressure to be able to cope with it.
Sachin has got an awesome record in World Cups. How do you see his current form?
His current form is been excellent. I think the job that he's been doing at No.4 is what I hoped he would do. Clever player, got the skill, the talent. He's got the creativity that can deal with different situations. To have someone like that, you're able to bring into the middle order at this stage is something that very few teams have got. We're lucky to have such a player. He's got a 100 recently, a few fifties batting in the middle order - talking to him the other day he's feeling more and more comfortable with that role. He's batted most of his career as an opener which was why he was reluctant to take up a new role. But he took it up and adjusted very well. It probably took him two games to get used to the tempo, rhythm of batting in the middle order and he picked it up as quickly as you would expect. So now we have another multi-dimensional player who can be used both at the top and middle order. Hopefully his form and fitness witness will be good through the tournament.
The average age of the squad is close to 30, there have been comments about this being a Dad's army.
It is what it is. I can't change it. It's what we've got. You can look at the positive side of it and say we've got more experience than anyone else. The downside is that we'll give away a bit in the field but hopefully we can more than make up for that with the experience with the bat and ball.
You spoke about the stress involved in a big tournament. How do you prepare the players for it?
Not a lot you can do other than give them experience. We've got 1200 odd games in the top 6 ... There is no short cut, a lot of it is inherent and rest is through experience. Many of them (7 or so) played in the final of the last World Cup. So they've been through the pressure of the big games of the World Cup. You can't look at losing a World Cup final as a failure. To get to the final is a success. A lot - weather, toss, pitch, conditions - are out of your control and you can get unlucky with it. There is no team going to the World Cup that can guarantee to win it. We've got to get to the semi-finals. That's our objective from our point of view. If we do that, we'll have played in tight games that would have tested us mentally and physically. So if we get to the semi-finals, I'm not too worried about the mental side of it.
What would you say to people who say the return of the seniors is a failure of Greg Chappell's development policy?
I'd say they don't really understand what we've been doing. The players we tried out weren't a failure - they were just part of a development programme that needs to be put in place. If you want to win games, you need to develop players. If you want to keep winning, you have to keep developing. We've developed quite a few players in the last 18-20 months. The one who seems to come under most criticism is Suresh Raina. If you look at Suresh's record, now and compare it with Sachin Tendulkar's record at the same stage of his one-day international career, you'll find it's exactly the same. Nobody is a complete product when they walk into international cricket. We took the opportunity to blood players and develop them so that in the short term, medium term and long term - India have someone to look to. There were some senior players who were struggling, they needed to be removed from the scene, go back, sort themselves out and come back. Thankfully most of them have. So I think that's a success.
People like Munaf, Sreesanth, RP Singh, VRV Singh have been and will be successful cricketers. One of the dangers of playing the same players game after game after game is that you finish with a lost generation. Young players on the fringes and perhaps deserving of opportunities, will be lost forever. Having the pressure of people knocking on the door has kept the older players on their toes and motivated. I don't think we will be in the position we are today if we hadn't done what we've done. So I defend what we've done. The need to develop players never stops, a cricket team is never complete. It's a work in progress any time you look and it and if you stop looking at it that way, you're only going to go backwards. Players needed to go back and reassess themselves, needed to reappraise their cricket, work on their fitness, fielding ... we couldn't be in a positon we are today, to pick players with confidence and go to the World Cup.
Nothing is a failure. Nothing that is tried, based on sound cricket logic, is a failure. I don't think there's anything we've tried ... something like 32 players who've played ODIs in the last 18 months .. Everybody was given a chance for the right reasons, everyone was left out for the right reasons. That's what's got us to the point where we are today, where we can go to the WC. Indian cricket will be stronger for what's happened in the last 21 months - all players who got a chance earned the right either through performance at first-class level or through raw talent. To succeed in international cricket, you have to pick the right kind of players. There are certain players who are successful. You look at the basic elements of it, good fast bowling wins you games, good aggressive spin bowling, good attacking batting with power and creativity wins games.
As far as Suresh is concerned, some of the complimentary remarks made about him as a young cricketer from teams such as Australia ... you wouldn't make critical comments if you've heard what we've heard. He's a good cricketer. RP Singh is a good cricketer. VRV Singh ... you look at the bald statistics of his record and it's not something to get excited about. But I look at some of the young players that I've been involved with in the past - as a selector and captain of Australian teams ... VRV Singh is as good a cricketer as Craig McDermott was when he came into the Australian team, he's as good a cricketer as Merv Hughes was when he came in, he's as good a cricketer as Carl Rackemann was when he came into the Australian cricket team. Nobody walks in and takes the world by storm, if they do they have a setback somewhere on the way. VRV Singh played a role in us winning a Test series in the West Indies, he played a role in us winning a Test for the first time ever in South Africa. He's a bowler who has the potential to be a multi-centurion wicket-taker in Test cricketer. I think RP Singh is in the same boat. I think he's won 4-5 Man of the Match awards in a very short career. None of this - [smiles] I was going to use a word that's become a swear word in India - but none of this opportunity-taking is going to be wasted for Indian cricket. The same goes for Raina and some of the other guys whom I've overlooked. Much of the critical comment is made with other agendas attached to it. The cricket logic behind all the things we've done is very strong. It's based on history (my own experience) and the history of international cricket. The kind of players who do well in matches are the types we're looking for. If you don't give such opportunities, the future is going to bleak.
Venugopal Rao. What's happened to him?
Some make it and some don't . The history of cricket is littered with people who are given the opportunities. Venu's a talented player. He didn't have as many chances as he needed at the time but it was very difficult to give him those chances. His record in domestic cricket up to that point was very good. He plays for one of the lesser teams in one of the lesser areas - probably makes it a bit harder for a player from those regions. But it's not anyone's fault, including his own. I think his performance in last year's Challenger Trophy as captain of India A was exceptional. I think it's a great shame he hasn't been able to continue his development as a captain. Good leaders don't come in large lumps and we saw an outstanding leader there. He didn't do badly but not good enough to push past others.
Sreesanth seems to be a different bowler in Tests and in ODIs.
|Nothing is a failure. Nothing that is tried, based on sound cricket logic, is a failure. I don't think there's anything we've tried ... something like 32 players who've played ODIs in the last 18 months .. Everybody was given a chance for the right reasons, everyone was left out for the right reasons|
Look at someone like Brett Lee. He was out of the Australian ODI team for two years. What succeeds in Tests doesn't succeed in ODIs. Some bowlers do well in both. Stuart Clark's probably been the best fast bowler in international cricket for the last year but he can't make the Australian team for the World Cup. Sree is still developing - 22 or 23 years of age, 8-10 Tests, 20 or so ODIs, he's still a young bowler, still developing. I think the advance he's made in the last 12 months is exceptional. He will be a good ODI bowler as he will be a good Test match bowler. I am not convinced that he won't play an important role for us in the World Cup. He's learning the adjustment between Tests and ODIs. His personality probably suits Tests more than one-day cricket but his ability can suit both. He's just got to compartmentalise the thinking between Tests and one-dayers and he'll be a fine one-day bowler and, barring accidents, will be around for sometime. I'm most pleased with his development as a person, personality and a bowler.
For someone who's come from a lesser cricket area, with very little cricket history, help from mentors who could tell him about international cricket, he's done splendid. We've tipped him off at the deep end and sometimes had to pull him out with a rope and throw him back again. And throw him back in again. He's coped with it remarkably well. For a young man to go through what he's gone through, it's exceptional. Do him a favour and don't hammer him too much. The kid's exceptional. He's been subjected to an enormous amount by the media. We've demanded and expected a lot of him and most of the time he's come through. Occasionally he's fallen over but he's shown great resilience and character. There have been a lot of people that have been exposed with as little to work with as Sree and most have failed. This kid is a success story and needs to be spoken of in those terms.
That's one of his plusses. It's much easier to pull someone back than push someone forward. If someone's not got the outgoing personality and temperament, they couldn't deal with what he's been through. He's fallen down a few times and there's been a few times when he's had to stay down. Tell him he's been fantastic, point out that he's taken considerable steps forward. To take two steps back every now and then is not a bad thing, because he's already taken ten steps forward. Again I look at people like Craig McDermott. He came in as a young, raw fast bowler. People like Merv Hughes - who wasn't so young but definitely raw. And they didn't do in their first ten Tests as much as what Sree's done. I'd rather have a volatile temperament that you can damp down than someone you can't motivate. The thing about Sree is that he's got vision, what the future looks like.
We left him out of the Champions Trophy - because he needed to be left out of the Champions Trophy. It would have done him more damage to have pushed him on in that environment. He needed to learn and understand a few lessons and go away and take them on board. It wasn't going to be easy for him to take them on board if he was part of the team, thinking that I should be playing. I've had to learn that when a young fellow gets dropped, his whole family is dropped. The pressure on him is enormous. Pressure from family, friends, state ... everyone's expecting so much of them. The information they're getting, the advice isn't the best they're getting. We've had to tell some guys a few home truths which they needed to hear, even though they didn't enjoy it. Sree didn't like hearing them but in his case, every time he's gone back, he's come back a better cricketer. He will have more setbacks before he becomes a finished article. Even as a finished article, he will have setbacks. Cricket's a game of failure. It's probably the hardest game of all. It's so tough on the mind. Golf is the only game that comes close because of the mental torment it brings with it. But even in golf - first hole you bogie, go and sit on the sidelines and don't take part in the tournament. That's what happens to a cricketer. The first mistake he makes is often the last. Then he's got to go and watch everyone else play. How hard is that?
Sree comes from a Plate team. There was one first-class game he played before he played for India where he had 12 catches dropped. Now how many people have to go through that to get into the international team? I don't think there's one bowler in the history of Australian cricket who would have had to go through something like that. Twelve catches in an innings, maybe all in a day. How many opportunities can you create? Selectors can look at the wickets column and see he's not picking but he creates opportunities. When he came into the Mumbai Test (his first series) he had some catches dropped off him. Flintoff was let off twice. We were talking about it and he said, 'I expect to have catches dropped off me when I play for Kerala but didn't expect this when I played for India.' And it was a casual comment, not as if he's blaming his team or anything. Wide-eyed genuine chap. RP Singh, VRV Singh ... good kids.
Once in Mumbai, RP Singh came to me and asked, 'Why am I not being picked? Is it because I'm not fast, or tall, or this or that?' I said it's none of it. You're part of a development process and the best thing is go back to UP play some games and get some success. This is your apprenticeship at the moment. Unfortunately the history of Indian cricket is littered with those who've played a handful of games before being left out. Once they're dropped, that's it. This was the sort of thing he was being told from outside. The hardest thing to do is to explain that there was a plan, for him to go away and come back again. Like we sent him back from the West Indies after the one-dayers, so that he can go to Australia and have some success in the India A series. We took VRV Singh to the West Indies just for experience. He finished up playing two Tests and that was a bonus. Same with South Africa, where he played two more. That experience will stand him in good stead. You can't get that experience in the nets.
He's had catches dropped. If the opportunities he created were taken, his stats will be impressive. Morne Morkel played at Durban and didn't create any more opportunities than VRV did. But the catches were taken and he finished up with 3-4 wickets. VRV had 1. But from the sidelines there was nothing between the two of them. Just that one record looks better than other. Both will be fine bowlers for their country. You got to look beyond statistics and look at the talent.
How much do you see Ganguly improving from here?
As I said to him in Zimbabwe 18 months or so ago - his career is 3 more years but at that point he wasn't in the right place mentally to do that and he needed to go away and reassess. He's done that and there's no reason why his career can't go on for some time. He will only stop improving if he stops trying to improve. He's improved his batting, his fielding ... his fitness is better than I've ever seen it. He's 33. Historically the best time for batsmen is between 27-28 (when most players reach their maturity) to 33-35, depending on how they look after themselves. You get the odd exception that stretches it a bit further but 34-35 is starting to push the envelope a bit too much. From a physical point of view, most men are in their prime when they approach 40. But it's the mental and physiological aspects that begin to weaken.
The manner in which he's come back ... has it been a pleasant surprise or did you always think he could do it?
I expected that he could do that. Whether I thought he would do that or not is a different story. It was always up to him, no one else could do it for him. To have a player of his record coming back is fantastic. To bring a new player into the team and for him to have to go through the learning process ... is not the ideal situation. If we hadn't taken a decision when he did then I don't think he would have been back in time for the World Cup. The timing has worked out well. I wouldn't say it's a surprise but it's a bonus. It wasn't certain that he would do that, but it was entirely upto him.
What about Dravid as the captain?
It will be important. Strong leadership will be evident in the World Cup. Teams that do well will be well led. I think his captaincy has by and large been very good. I would hope he'd continue to improve. He's had periods where he found it tough - as any captain does. You run out of ideas at different times. You're reliant on the performance of the players on the way that they perform their duties. I think by and large his captaincy has been good. He's led from the front. He was instrumental in the West Indies series with both his captaincy and performance. His captaincy in one-day cricket has been very good at times. His captaincy when he won 18 off 22 games was very good. His handling of the bowling attack, field placements have been pretty good. The World Cup is going to demand probably more of his captaincy than he's had demanded of him up to this point. Hopefully the 50 games of experience will stand him in good stead under that pressure.
Do you think there's too much cricket today?
The toughest part of the job as it is for the players is the amount of cricket that is being played. That is something that cricket needs to take on board. I think we are demanding an enormous amount of our international cricketers. There is not an unlimited supply of them that we can play long careers. I have doubt that Sachin Tendulkar could have have played for 17 years if he had started in the last 12 months to three years. If you look at the next 18 months there is not a month without cricket, you cannot do that, it is physically and mentally impossible for an individual to play so much cricket. I can tell you that it is physically and mentally impossible for any coach to coach that much cricket. You need time to reflect, work on your game, need time to clear their heads. If you don't get breaks at some point of time there is a breaking point, and different people will reach that point at different stages and I look at the programme of the next 12 months and there is a tournament every month, there are two tournaments in some months. It is unrealistic to expect players and coaches to do that. This is a demanding job in more ways than one, If you have players playing 12 months of the year you are going to burn out players and you are going to burn out coaches very quickly. If you want to keep playing at this rate then you need to two coaches and two teams. Whether there is a different Test match and a one-day team with very little change over of player personnel that is what will have to happen if this rate is to be continued and you certainly need two coaches because nobody can coach 330 days of an year. It's too demanding and its too difficult. There aren't that many things that you can say differently, that you can spend 330 days doing that. You need to spend time away from it to get a better perspective of it. That is something Indian cricket needs to look at because we are playing probably 30 per cent more cricket than the rest. Injuries, illness are more likely to happen when the players are run down.