“He is going to guide the team,” and that’s all the board members could say about the role of the new team director after this unique and bizarre position was created. And hence, when the eternal announcer cum mic testing boy was hurriedly pushed into the flight to England with the responsibilities of handling…umm, things, he nervously glanced over his shoulder from the stairs and muttered, “What am I supposed to be doing there?”
Baggage handlers carried on with their work, few crows hovered over the apron (who perhaps were not present during the board meeting to explain the rationale behind this decision), and air hostesses handed him the complimentary snacks as he walked towards his seat with an unresolved query and a packet of potato chips in his hand.
The question reverberated through his mind and reached its crescendo when he joined the team during practice session. He stood there in the middle and watched the proceedings with his hands on the hips (and looked more like the head ground staff who has nothing to do with cricket or cricketers. The only difference was that he had nothing to do with the ground either). He felt a bit insecure when everyone smile at him and said, “It would be fun working with you,” as he failed to comprehend by ‘fun’ what exactly they were referring to.
In 1981, when he entered the dressing room for the first time, Gavaskar told him the same thing…and then he was seen standing at third man from 1981 – 1992. But today, he is one of the known faces in Indian cricket administration whereas his first captain did not even know when he was appointed as the BCCI President for IPL Affairs and when he was released from the duty. Who is the loser now?
Things changed post his retirement…his hard work and perseverance paid off. He conducted every single cricketing and non-cricketing event that took place on the face of the earth. From the presentation ceremony of Zimbabwe-Kenya match to Lalit Modi’s daughter’s mehendi celebration, his powerful voice added a new dimension to the proceedings (and forced the scientists to re-evaluate the maximum decibel level a hysteric human voice can generate). Research suggests that if a person shouts for 8 years, 7 months, and 6 days he/she would produce enough energy to warm a cup of coffee. So, as a television presenter from 1995 – 2014, all he managed to do was produce energy to warm 2-1/2 cup coffee.
There have been strange developments in Indian cricket soon after his appointment. Kohli implemented T20 strategies in test cricket, Rohit Sharma developed xenophobia and sledged Australian cricketers everywhere (even when they came out of their hotel rooms to collect laundry), and Dhoni abruptly announced his retirement from test cricket. Everyone looked at him suspiciously as he mumbled, “I didn’t do anything.”
Yes, the allegations were baseless. With every team member taking decisions for the entire team, there was little scope left for the coach or the team director to exercise their decision making skills. So, while Kohli decided to give one over spells to his bowlers without consulting anyone including the bowling coach or while Dhawan took a couple of days break during a test match, the team director sat in front of his laptop and opened a confidential folder which contained a list of files. He clicked the one which read – ‘Singham Returns.’