Two interviews — with Venkatesh Prasad (former bowling coach) and Yuvraj Singh (former, uh, batsman) — offer hints into dressing room drama, and my long-held suspicion that cricketing fame is wasted on 20-somethings.
First, Prasad. The Cricinfo article makes for a depressing read:
During his India stint, he said, he found the bowlers’ work load in the nets to be inadequate. “I was very disappointed with the amount of bowling that was going in nets. And with the amount of training: they weren’t training hard, the bowlers weren’t pushing themselves.”
Bowlers – he did not name any – could not be pushed to put in more than 20 minutes in the India nets, and he said that, as a member of the support staff, he could not be after them every day. “I can’t keep saying, ‘Come on XYZ, whoever they may be, bowl for one hour.” He said he did so on many occasions but it wasn’t always appreciated. “It’s a thin line. There were lots of players who, when you told them something, didn’t like it.
Prasad only praises three bowlers explicitly — Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and S. Sreesanth. One is on the perpetual edge of being dropped; one is a ODI specialist, and the other has a dodgy shoulder.
OK, but these are the bowlers, who don’t usually win India’s hearts and minds as much as the team’s batsmen. For that, we turn to Yuvraj, who sees himself as much wiser and older now that he’s been dropped, injured and out of form:
I see a lot of youngsters like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who are very talented and flamboyant. As a senior I tell them not to make the same mistakes I made, and try to guide them to a better tomorrow…They don’t listen, especially Rohit and Virat. [Suresh] Raina still listens a little bit, but Rohit and Virat always argue with me.
This raises a bigger question: if you had to choose between an excellent batsman with a crappy attitude, or a capable batsman with the right one, which would you pick? And, secondly, why does India persist in selecting young ‘uns? Spending a few years in the wilderness — a la Gambhir — builds character.