India in Zimbabwe 2005 August 22, 2005

Poor planning hampers India

Sourav Ganguly is feeling good again © Getty Images

Shambles. There is no other word to describe the situation as India embarked on their tour of Zimbabwe. The pre-departure press conference, originally scheduled for 6pm, started around 9pm, and no-one was happy. Photographers scrambled so badly around Greg Chappell, the coach, that he had to leave the room and return when some sense of decorum had returned.

"If we're looking for quick-fixes then we are going to be slightly disappointed," Chappell said. "It is a matter of doing some hard work consistently over a long period of time." And Chappell, known for getting the job done despite making himself unpopular, said, "we need to change the mindset, the way people prepare for a match, that will take some time."

"It is always a good feeling [to be captain]. Who doesn't want to captain India?" Ganguly said in the lead-up to a fresh Test season. "But whoever may be leading the side, it's more important that the team puts up a good performance."

But on days like this it isn't even relevant what anyone said. What is crucial is what the board had promised, and not delivered. There was an initial request for a camp in Bangalore, but the board said there was no time for that. And what of the Twenty20 tournament happening at the Chinnaswamy Stadium? Then there was a request for a two-day session in Mumbai.

But the board contended that there were no practice pitches available in Mumbai at this time of the year. What about a fitness camp? At least the team could get together and do what they have to before a tour. No, that's not possible because it's not a good idea to get all these boys together in Mumbai.

Alright then, if nothing was possible in India, the only thing to do was to get to Zimbabwe early enough to sort things out. The board initially assured the team they would leave on the 22nd, but eventually booked them on a flight on the 23rd. And, funnily enough, it was not till late on the day they were supposed to leave that the team was told they had an overnight halt in Harare, and that they would not reach Bulawayo till the 24th. Their first game is on the 26th.

These may seem like small things, but at the end of the day, these are the things that make a difference between preparing yourself for success, and not.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo