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Readers sound off on:

Azhar and Sachin
Azhar and Sachin
The captaincy conundrum

October 25, 1997
From: Kamal Karlapalem <>

A couple of points about the article:

Though I agree about the point that selectors should keep their mouths closed, I disagree with the point that Azhar wanting the captaincy back is detrimental to Indian cricket.

Everybody went ga ga over Sachin being made the captain, and Sachin himself made the job of the selectors in replacing Azhar easier by stating unequivocally that he was ready for the captaincy. We have seen the results. Now there is doubt that SRT may not be completely ready for the job. So Azhar is just conveying that he is still there, and can do the job. Nothing wrong with that.

We are also going overboard over 5-3 victory over Pakistan. This has nothing much to do with the captaincy. If it did, most commentators (notably Gavaskar and Ravi Sastri) would be praising him. That has not happened. Because we won in Toronto and Pakistan due to individual performances by Ganguly, Azhar and Robin Singh.

It is quite possible that SRT is getting complacent in his batting and captaincy, knowing that he is there for the long run, and a change in captaincy will give him a wakeup call, make him concentrate more, and learn. We have won more matches when the captain's place is at stake, or a cricketer' place is at stake, or "in win or get out" situations, than otherwise. We should build a team that wins more matches and is consistent, than one that just participates in the finals or semi-finals with one or two "do or die" wins.

Once the selectors have decided to kick out on non-performing players, consistency will improve. If SRT needs to be removed from captaincy to let him concentrate on batting and rethink his captaincy strategies, it should be done. And don't blame it on Azhar -- it is SRT's own doing.

And finally, what you do to others, others will do unto you. And that is a moral SRT should keep in mind.

From: Srinivas S Garre <>

I feel that there is nothing wrong in Azhar aspiring for the captaincy. After all, he proved himself by making the greatest comeback ever in recent times, when many cricket pundits written him off. His record as a captain is unbeatable still.

Captaincy to Tendulkar should be seen as a stop-gap arrangement, and now that the man is back in form, he should be given his job back. I feel continuance of Tendulkar as captain would only finish him off early as a batsman. Already, his performance as a batsman is so badly affected by captaincy. Gifted batsmen like Brian Lara are well protected by the respective managements, who give the captaincy to other players in order to let the main batsmen concentrate on their jobs.These star batsmen are the real weapons in their teams, and should not be destroyed early in their career.

Sunil Gavaskar is the man to be blamed for all this. He discovered the so called captaincy material in Tendulkar -- I suspect, so that he could settle his own scores with Azharuddin.

From: Hemant Sahasrabuddhe <>

If they want to change the captain, look at Ajay Jadeja or Javagal Srinath. Azharuddin is no better as captain than Sachin is.

From: Umesh Dandekar <>

Let us not forget that a captain should be good enough to hold his place in the side, irrespective of the oppostion and the nature of the pitch. How do you fit in an Azhar into an Indian side playing in the West Indies or in Australia?

I think it is only in England, thankfully, that they believe a player not worth his place in the side can lead it -- remember Chris Cowdrey? Bringing Azhar back will give Tendulkar two messages -- one, that azhar can "hijack" the selection committee whenever he feels like, and two, that Tendulkar does not deserve the captaincy even when he leads an inexperienced Indian squad to victory over Pakistan. Those two messages will in turn ensure that Tendulkar, if made captain in the future after losing it now, will revert to being a totally defensive captain.

From: Subhash L Kari <>

India does not need another cold war going on between its two best players. The selectors have no reason to change the captaincy, especially after the fantastic performance of the team against Pakistan. Sachin played a great role, as captain, in carving this win. And what is the guarantee that Azhar, who just about six months back was not good enough for the eleven, will continue to bat the way he has been batting recently? What do you do then?

From: Vineet Arya <>

In the defense of Azhar and Tendulkar, it is not mentioned anywhere in the story that there is anything wrong with having two people ambitious enough to want the captaincy of their side. I think healthy competition should be encouraged, as long as both can make sure that this will not affect the team or their performance.

If we consider them to be mature and responsible people, then this problem should not arise. Some selector should sit them both down and tell them to make sure that the competition is healthy. That is all there is to it.

Further, the article seems to undermine Azhar's stake to the captaincy, with his age cited as the major factor. The "looking to the future" thing is always mentioned when this comes up. Seems to me that this is a vague argument, devoid of specific point, intended to cloud the issue and tilt it in Sachin's favor.

Let's define a target so we can nail down what this "future" exactly is. I define this target to be the next World Cup. Looking at both of these gentlemen, it would be fair to say that in all probability, both of them will be in the side for that one. Some might argue that there is no guarantee of that in Azhar's case, but anyone keeping an open eye on performance and statistics will know that Azhar's place in the side is cemented.

Now if the World Cup is the goal and both of our stars are going to be there, then it is a simple matter of picking the one who can provide better leadership. This is, in my mind, what the issue needs to come down to. What we don't need is the sensationalism that is currently being provided to this issue.

Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, if they are providing such fuel to the fire, should be ashamed of themselves. What we need is the media (Mr. Bogle is included here) to portray the healthy side of this competition. If SG and RS are guilty of providing undue sensationalism to this issue, then they are who Mr Bhogle should focus his fire on.

Please do your best to highlight this issue in a positive light. Compare stats, provide examples of on-field leadership, highlight the relationship the two share, but please do not portray one or the other as seeking, by malicious means, to get the captaincy. The fact that the two put everything on the line in every match is enough evidence of their goodwill and commitment to India.

One example that needs to be cited is the handling of this issue by Pakistan, during the 1992 World Cup. Please review the captaincy issues faced by that side in the early '90s leading to the World Cup. Focus on how Wasim and Imran handled the issue, as well as the Pak media. I think we should learn from that example. Sure, Azhar is not Imran, and we should keep that in mind.