Amit Varma, a former managing editor of Cricinfo in India, now writes on economics and politics.
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This discussion was supposed to be about how India fares in the two forms of the game, but somehow got held up around the narrow subject of whether Greg Chappell is good for the team or not. Comparing the Wright-Ganguly pair with Chappell and Dravid is, at this point, somewhat premature. Firstly, Chappell and Dravid haven't been in charge for long enough to pass judgement on them. And secondly, causality can never be so simply ascertained.
There are a multitude of factors that go into the making of a team: the coach, the captain, the selectors, the times, the resources available. That last is a critical point: Wright and Ganguly would certainly have done much better had Mahendra Singh Dhoni been around in their time, and much worse if Virender Sehwag had not. It's a complicated business, determining levels of responsibility.
Anyway, to take this discussion off personalities, let me throw a few questions to the participants.
While there may not be a decline in India's Test fortunes, they're certainly a better one-day side than a Test side. This is partly because the skills required for the two forms of the game are somewhat different, and you need wicket-taking bowlers to win Test matches. Except for brief periods of time in their history, India haven't had consistently match-winning bowlers, particularly outside the subcontinent.
So my first question is: Is this something endemic to India that they produce world-class batsmen all the time, but never enough world-class bowlers at the same time? If so, are they condemned to being a second-rate Test side? And if not, do you hope in the new breed of young Indian bowlers that is coming up now?
Since this millenium began, there has been a change in the values of the Indian team. There's been a premium on fitness, on fielding, on, running between wickets, on psychological toughness, and so on. India's taken a noticable step up, but not enough to be consistent world beaters. So my second question is: What do you think is the next step that India need to take to get there? Do you think they're on the way?
My third and final question is this: if you were the coach of India, what are the first five things you would do to make this team even better? Particulars please: don't stick to generalities like "I would play more youngsters in the team." Who would you bring in, who would you leave out? What are the hard decisions you would take? C'mon, put yourself in Chappell's shoes and lay it out!