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May 29, 2008
Martin Crowe, Bangalore Royal Challengers' chief cricket officer, has said that "everything went wrong" with their campaign in the first season of the IPL and that they have to start afresh next year.
Crowe cited team composition, lack of preparation for key players coming out of a Test series, and poor practice facilities at the home ground as reasons for the poor performance. He also said that the team management, him included, had to share the blame and that the franchise had to bring in players with the skills required to excel in the Twenty20 format.
"There is no one or particular area that deserves more blame than anyone else," Crowe told Cricinfo. "People speculated at the start what type of team we were [a Test side] and that's the way it has turned out. We didn't have Twenty20 batsmen. The composition of the team, the fact that key players were coming out of a Test series and had just one day to prepare.
"Our facilities at the home ground were poor - we got the worst practice facilities that I have ever seen in 25 years of international cricket so preparing was even harder. That was acknowledged after two or three practice sessions. Venkatesh Prasad was unplayable. It was up and down and doing things. It's not the reason but it's a reason. As for the wicket in the middle, you can see by the scores."
Crowe said that the think-tank tried all combinations but nothing worked. "We as management also have to take blame. I am sort of involved in the three-year plan but I understand that I have been long way away from the goal. I accept that, with the changes made, I could be one of them. We got off on the back end of a [Brendon] McCullum whirlwind in the opening game and we didn't recover from it. We tried everything, every player in every combination simply because no one was putting the hand up. There is nothing to be proud of apart from, obviously, there has been some hard work that went in."
According to Crowe, the way forward was to recruit players who would be suitable to Twenty20 cricket. "Those in charge have a choice: They can start again, which is what I would do. I think you have to go in with a clean sheet and look at bringing players that would be suitable for IPL. Get as many new Twenty20 recruits as possible. Brijesh Patel is the CEO and it will be his responsibility to see who would be available and how he can build the resources within the side. We would get back Bracken but I guess we need to reduce the squad to 18 or 20, which most teams have realised."
Crowe felt Rahul Dravid grew as a Twenty20 cricketer, tried hard to adapt as a captain but "at the end of the day he had the seventh best side to work with". Crowe said it was Dravid's decision whether to continue as a captain next season.
"Rahul was very open, he knew his limitations being a 35-year old, he wished he were ten years younger but he went out there and gave 110%. You can see that in his batting, he tried his best on the field and sometimes in this sort of the game, for someone like Shane Warne it [captaincy] comes naturally and for some others it doesn't. Rahul is someone who would take due consideration of whether he is suited to continue or whether he needs it anymore. But I have no doubt that he would come back and make a contribution with the bat."
Crowe said franchise owner Vijay Mallya's decision to sack the chief executive Charu Sharma was the reaction of a "disappointed owner". "He was there from the start; he was fully involved and I think he ought to put it as a bad year and make a fresh start. I am sure he will make decisions accordingly to get us back into contention for the second year."
However, he said he didn't understand the sacking of Sharma. "That was something we never understood inside the team. That's a different issue. We don't know what that was about."
Crowe also felt the initial focus was too much on entertainment rather than cricket and that hit the team hard. "There was lots of emphasis on the opening ceremony; we were not allowed inside the stadium. We were practising under the trees in the back portion, those were the things we were dealing at the time and they didn't feel alright. It's all about momentum and we never got any momentum."
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