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Attitude problem

This charge is a convenient excuse for team managements and selectors when they want someone out.

Cricket commentary
MIND GAME

FOURTH UMPIRE

Cricketers accused of an 'attitude' problem
  • Sourav Ganguly
  • Mohammed Azharuddin
  • Nayan Mongia
  • Amay Khurasia
  • Shoaib Akhtar

April 18, 2006: Allow me just once more to indulge in that old subject: Sourav Ganguly. What now about him? His non-selection of course. Of course, I don’t intend to quote his 10,000 runs or captaincy success to pitch for him again.

It seems quite clear that neither the coach Greg Chapell nor the cricket selection board headed by Kiran More are any longer interested in him. Their plans for the 2007 World Cup cricket don’t include him. But why? Don’t they remember the wonderful, record-breaking partnership he had against Sri Lanka in the 1999 World Cup or the innumberable innings he has played and the lofted drives he has laced them with? They probably do but they have one grouse, whether they articulate it or not: Attitude problem.

Sourav Ganguly former Indian cricket captainIn fact, it is the second time Sourav is being charged with this ‘behavioural problem’. As is well known, he was selected and dumped very soon because of precisely this. He was said to have an aversion to carrying drinks especially and having paid the penalty, he had to wait for a few years before he came back into the reckoning again.

Attitude is very important in cricket and the way Mohammed Azharuddin batted under Sachin Tendulkar proved this beyond doubt. He would bat like a millionaire, without a care in the world. Every bowler had a chance against him.

But the problem with the ‘lack of a positive attitude’ charge is that it is one person’s or one group’s opinion on another. It is the same arrogant and aggressive attitude that we praised not long ago. Perhaps, it fits a captain but not a member of the team. Perhaps not. Matter of opinion, again. Over the years, ‘attitude’ has cost many players their place in the side. Two names that come to mind are Nayan Mongia and Amay Khurasia.

Mohammed Azharuddin former Indian cricket captainOf course, in Mongia’s case, there were also other allegations. He was close to Azhar and Jadeja and was friendly with Pakistan players. Rumours had it that he was also not fully in the clear. But they gave him the axe in the name of ‘attitude’. Khurasia, a very promising and aggressive player, genuinely suffered because of this charge and during Anshuman Gaekwad’s time as coach, he was kept out of the playing eleven. As a consequence, he lost his Indian jersey not long after. The player privately explained to many a journalist that he didn’t want to play a particular match because of high fever and it was unjust to
punish him for that.

Across the border, we have a very good example: Shoaib Akhtar. His behviour and attitude has earned him many a reprimand and sometimes punishment from the Pakistan Cricket Board. Ironically, he is also one of the players who try hardest to the point of breakdown. His is a very curious case indeed; he tries hard to generate pace, suffers an injury, sits out for some
time or has to skip matches and he is accused of not giving his best!

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