Cricket Find/Feedback/Site Index
June 12, 2000


send this story to a friend

My dear Paaji

Avinash Subramanium

We hate the fact that we're such huge fans of yours. And that we adore you. And idolize you. And put you on a pedestal. So much, that we're willing to gloss over everything that's gone from bad to worse during your tenure as manager. So what if you started with a lackluster home series win against the Kiwis? We were sure things would get better. We said (hoped) Sachin is too good to get it wrong the second time round. And who better to guide him than arguably the greatest cricketer this country has produced. So we looked ahead with optimism. And ignored some of the truly strange decisions that took place during the home series.

Down Under, we thought you'd prove Mr. Jaywant Lele wrong. We thought you and Sachin would show the Aussies. Some of us even applauded the dropping of Azhar and Mongia on disciplinary grounds. The gullible fools that we are, we looked forward to a more positive work ethic. And we looked to you and Sachin to provide the much-needed inspiration for a much improved team performance Down Under. We thought, finally, India was ready to win something abroad. Unfortunately, by the end of the tour, we were convinced we had seen it all. We were sure Indian cricket had reached its nadir. And then, we got thrashed at home.

But still, we couldn't get ourselves to send you packing. Fortunately for us, Sachin was nice enough to step down. You see, we'd never have mustered up the guts to show him the door the second time round. He's too dear to us. Almost like our very own Indian Superman. In our eyes, Sachin had done little wrong. The team had let him down. We could not sack him. And somewhere in there is a message for you, Kapil. A message we didn't have the courage to send out after the debacle at home. (Not counting the betting scandal to follow.) One we weren't prepared to send out even after our equally uninspiring showing in Sharjah. But blaming the Asia Cup on the inability to win the toss -- this is too much!

Paaji, we want to remember you as the man who took us to that great Prudential Cup triumph. As the man who hit Eddie Hemmings for 4 consecutive sixes. As the man who hit the most effortless 175 runs in the history of the limited overs game. As the man with a heart the size of Jupiter. Not as the man who blubbered pathetically in front of the camera. As the man who hasn't made one intelligent observation on the pitiable state of his team and the game. We don't want to see our cricket manager indulging in slanging matches of juvenile proportions. (Comparing match fixing to the act of selling one's mother reminds us of an equally silly, sentimental bluster made by our late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi - the highly inappropriate and immature Republic Day comment about 'Naani yaad aa jayegi!')

Please do not deprive us of yet another hero. And we sincerely hope you will realize that it's not about being a quitter. We know you are not a quitter. Just like we know Sachin is not a quitter. But Indian cricket needs you more as just Kapil. A dashing, ever-smiling hero young cricketers can look up to. And remember with fondness. As the man who embodied everything that a young cricketer should aspire to have. We want our young cricketers to say they want to grow up to be like Kapil. (And God knows, we need more Kapils.) But the longer you stay, the more our Kapil is being pulverized. Kapil, please save Kapil. Preserve the wonderful memories we have of you.

And why is it that your great rival Gavaskar always seems to get such things 'more right?' Why is it that people say, we wish Gavaskar hadn't retired when he retired? Why is it that they say Gavaskar had at least another year of good cricket left in him? That he should have been captain for some more time? And why is he too shrewd to take up the pain of coaching the Indian team? Why must we suffer your detractors saying Kapil is doing it again? That he hung around a bit too long even when he was a player. That he ruined a couple of careers in pursuit of his record. And that he is, again, overstaying his welcome.

What do we tell the people who tell us it is not just a co-incidence that the better performing teams in world cricket are the ones moving away from the 'Superstar/ex-cricketer makes for a better coach' model.? (The most obvious/successful example being Sri Lanka from Roy Dias, to Duleep Mendis back to Watmore.) That most cricket teams are looking for more than just cricketing inputs from their managers. (Including, in some cases, by way of multiple coaches for specific skill areas.)

In conclusion, all I'd like to say is Paaji, please stay. Because we're too damn scared to admit we well and truly screwed up. (If Mr. Lele is to be believed, for the third time!)

Avinash Subramanium