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In his playing days, Sandeep Patil was known for his cavalier attitude and stylish strokeplay. He is, after all, the man who hit Bob Willis for 24 runs in an over, and frequently dumped cricket balls into the Arabian Sea when batting for Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium.
But on Tuesday, the former Indian middle-order batsman and coach found his name pencilled in for a new role – that of head of the national selection committee panel. Patil’s name had not featured in the list of contenders – headed by his former India team-mate and South Zone selector Roger Binny – and considering that he had no prior experience of being a selector at any level, the BCCI’s decision to announce him as Kris Srikkanth‘s replacement at its AGM in Mumbai made heads turn. Out of the blue, he has assumed the most important role in the BCCI.
It is not as if Patil, 56, has come from obscurity, though his inexperience as a selector will be scrutinised. He brings a creditable managerial CV to the table, having previous coached India, India A, Kenya and Oman, as well as Mumbai Champs in the defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL), and currently serving as the director of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.
Patil’s stint as coach of India in 1996, when he took over from Ajit Wadekar, lasted six months after the disastrous tour of England. From 1997 to 2003, he coached Kenya, famously guiding them to the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. Following that successful stint, Patil returned to coach India A and oversaw an unbeaten tour of England and a tri-series win in Kenya, also involving Pakistan A.
He quit the job after being “shabbily” treated by the BCCI and became coach of Oman, whom he helped qualify for the ICC Trophy after a good run in the ACC Trophy. He later turned down a last-minute offer to lead India A against South Africa A because he had not been given a full-time contract despite many years of service. He was associated with Mumbai Champs, but severed ties with the rebel Twenty20 league and was welcomed back into the BCCI fold. In October 2009, Patil took over from Dav Whatmore at the NCA where he was serving until the BCCI named him as Srikkanth’s replacement.
As an India batsman, Patil was nowhere near as constant a feature in India’s Test and ODI teams as Srikkanth, Binny and Mohinder Amarnath, who was also a candidate for the chief selector’s role. But by replacing one team-mate and beating two to the coveted post, Patil has been given a belated chance to stamp his presence on Indian cricket. Whether he does so in that inimitable style remains to be seen.
Mumbai, Sep 6: When sporting legends depart, memories flow in form of tributes, like they have since Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman called time on their Test careers. Their incredible batting abilities, fine humane qualities and undefiled character have inspired many an encomium. But their former teammate and long time friend, Anil Kumble, remembers Dravid and Laxman for making him India’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, by latching on to all the catches that came their way in the slips, silly point and short-leg.
Of Kumble’s 619 Test victims, 81 have been dismissed caught by Dravid and Laxman combined.
In a chat with bcci.tv, Kumble described how the assuredness that the two men brought to the field, made his life easier as a spinner. He also spoke of the understanding he shared with Dravid and Laxman; this meant there was little need for verbal communication between the bowler and his fielders.
I shared a very good partnership with both Rahul and Laxman on the field and off it as well. We played cricket together for 15-16 years and shared a lot of time together, had meals together and had some happy moments.
Rahul and Laxman were brilliant for me as close-in fielders. Most of the times, they knew exactly what I was going to bowl. I never had to discuss my bowling plans with them or instruct them particularly. At times, I told them if I wanted them to stand a bit straighter or wider, but mostly they were very precise in positioning themselves.
The sense of security
For a spinner to succeed it’s very important to have good close-in fielders and I was very lucky to have quite a few. Rahul and Laxman were among the best. They expected a catch off every ball. They weren’t afraid to stand close to the bat and gave their 100 percent in the field. As a bowler the last thing you want is to worry about having a slip fielder who is not really alert. That was never on my mind. From the team’s perspective as well, it boosts everyone’s confidence if someone pulls off a half chance and changes the course of the game.
I did, at times, put pressure on the fielders with my stingy attitude towards conceding runs. But it was all in the game and then you forget about it. It wasn’t that I was the best fielder in the team. As a bowler you have a plan and you don’t want the batsmen to rotate the strike. It’s always easy for a bowler when he’s bowling at the same batsman for longer periods so that you can set him up. If an easy single is conceded or a catch is dropped, you do get upset.
Rahul, the zen
Rahul’s concentration and focus was unbelievable. It was impossible for me to be that focused. And the amount of work that he put in, in order to prepare himself for a match, was really inspirational.
VVS, the optimist
What I liked the most about Laxman was that he was extremely positive no matter what the situation was. He never worried about how the pitch was and how it would behave. Everybody has their inhibitions and nervous feelings about certain types of pitches. If Laxman had any, he never expressed that in the team environment. He bailed India out of trouble on innumerable occasions with his positivity and calmness.
A dignified exit
I really admire the way both, Rahul and Laxman retired – they went out on their own terms, and I really appreciate that. Laxman could’ve easily played the Test series against New Zealand and then gone on a high. But he never looked at things from a personal perspective. Both men always kept the team’s interest above their own. When the two of them batted together, the dressing room would be totally relaxed. Rahul and Laxman will be sorely missed.
Sachin played one of his most pathetic Test innings – BY Tom Alter
Pain, not anger…
I write this in deep, deep pain – not anger…
Tendulkar has just been bowled by Bracewell – not bowled, but cleaned-up – totally – if anyone from a club side had played a shot like that in the nets, he would have been asked to step-down and Tendulkar plays it in a Test.
I am not angry. I am in deep pain.
Pain of having watched Tendulkar play one of the most pathetic Test innings of his amazing, amazing career.
Four runs from 41 balls at lunch – beaten at least four times – scratchy, tentative – even Gavaskar admitted he was tentative.
The bat refusing to come down straight – always curving towards the leg, which is why he is beaten so often now by balls that move in – -and then bowled – cleaned-up – by a ball that moved in.
Sachin is far, far too great a batsman to be reduced to this.
The question is ‘why’? Not even ‘how’? We know how – Sachin has raised a competitive bat since the IPL nonsense, and in that, too, he was injured and out of sorts.
And then he expects to play a Test? After three months of holidaying?
I am not angry. I am in pain.
We take New Zealand for granted – we smile in a condescending manner and agree to play two Tests – as a favour—big brother being nice. Sachin feels that a week of practice will get him ready.
Sachin, we are not angry; we are in pain – you must play every chance you get – every match. That is the only way you can thrive. If you are really serious about playing on for India – the greatest honour any cricketer can dream of – then play cricket – one-day, Ranji– cricket. Play – no ads, no politics, no hairstyles. Play cricket – for the next two years of your life – do nothing else – and you will leave this great game that you have graced has no other ever has, with style and dignity – and runs