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Staying Winners

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India’s cricketers are having a bad run of late. The U-19 team lost the ODI World Cup to Bangladesh. The women’s team lost the final of the Tri-Series in Australia by eleven runs. The men’s team, after vanquishing New Zealand in the T-20s, could not score a win in the ODIs. All this despite having some of the world’s best players and considerable bench strength!
It is not unusual for players to run out of steam at the fag end of an extended tour, owing to foreign conditions, food, weather, separation from families, etc. Injuries can upset the carefully constructed balance of a team, as happened in the case of Rohit Sharma, whose efforts played a major role in winning the T-20s. Managing this is the task primarily of the team managements. They are not there just for the ride – it is in times of crisis that their work begins. The Manager not only has to have a good rapport with the Captain, there has to be a clear demarcation of roles so that decisions are taken in the team’s interest and not out of an emotional response to situations.
There has also got to be a clear understanding of which combination of players works in particular situations. The ability to read the condition of the pitch also matters. It has been seen that bowlers who have done extremely well at one venue become ineffective at another. Also, in the modern era, the use of technology and statistical information is crucial. Batting and bowling coaches have close-up videos and simulation that can be used to identify the weaknesses in individual players of rival teams. It is not clear how much of its enormous wealth is being used by the BCCI members to advance such means, instead of just giving themselves fat salary packets and perks.
Despite all these occasional setbacks, Indian Cricket will remain in the forefront and its teams will be the ones to beat for some time to come. In the other sports, however, the need for such backroom management is even greater. Even if there is a lack of resources to introduce modern methods of event preparation, the effort should be made to stay abreast of technologies available. It would help if a centralised agency is established for this purpose, as it would save resources and bring all disciplines under one roof. Implemented eventually at the grassroots, it could make the difference between being winners and also-rans!