(Drat, I knew I missed a trick when I discontinued ‘The future cricket’ series after just five musings. I touched on the toss and just when I was on to something big, I let go. And now this man has beaten me to it. I can’t prove that the idea crossed my mind earlier, so I won’t take him to court but I am compelled to share the conversation I had with John Buchanan sometime last year when I was in Kolkata.)
Me: Hi, John. Good we could catch up like this. I know I don’t have the kind of experience you’ve had, coaching one of the most successful cricket teams ever, but…
John: Hold on there, mate. Just get your sequence right – I wasn’t the coach of the most successful team, I made it the most successful team ever.
Me: Warney had me believe otherwise, just after the 2005 Ashes loss.
John: I knew you’d come to that. Read my book If Better Is Possible to understand the reasons for that defeat. I just let Jamie (Siddons) lose it for us. It was an important stepping stone for him.
Me: Oh yes, I remember reading that book. You also had some convincing explanations for the loss to India in 2001, didn’t you?
John: I don’t quite remember what I said then, my agent said that we needed a compelling explanation, and I think we came up with some reasons that night over a few drinks.
Me: Interesting… any way, John, I wanted to sound you out on an idea I had while I was working on a series of posts on my blog on cricket reforms.
John: Ah, you write a blog, do you? Do you think something like that will help my consulting business? I don’t mind re-releasing my book in the blog format if it helps.
Me: Er, I don’t think I’m quite the best person to answer that, being an amateur blogger myself.
John: Oh ok. I think I’ll check with my agent on this. Thanks for bringing it to my notice. Let’s move on. You were talking of some cricket reforms. What are you thinking?
Me: I am wondering, why should a team have only one captain? I can understand a team having one wicket-keeper, but just as there are three departments in the game, why can’t there be multiple captains?
John: What a crazy idea! Why would you want that?
Me: Well, I was just thinking. There used to be this criticism about bowling captains either under-bowling themselves or over-bowling themselves.
John: Nah, bowling captains are just too fat and obsessed with their cell phones.
Me: And some batting captains are so worried about the team, it tends to affect their personal performance as batsmen.
John: No no, Mark Taylor was a genuinely bad batsman, but go on.
Me: Moreover, nowadays there are so many roles captains have to play – selector, player, media relations…
John: Brand endorsement, representing the country in inane ICC meetings… I get the drift. But I still don’t know how it will work out.
Me: Me neither, but if there is one person who can carry this off, at least on an experimental basis, it’s you I reckon.
John: That is absolutely correct, mate. No one else can even talk of this with a straight face. Hmmm… these Englishmen don’t seem to want to win the Ashes – they’re not calling me to coach their team. They could’ve made good guinea pigs.
Me: Do you think you can perhaps write an article about it and get some views from other experts?
John: No, I’d rather leave copies of the article in hotel rooms accidentally, that strategy works better, but hey, wait! I wonder I can try it out with the Kolkata Knight Riders at the next IPL. I can kill multiple birds with this one stone.
Me: Er, how?
John (visibly excited): I can make Sourav the mascot captain. So he can wear those funny costumes (or may be take his shirt off) and cheer the team. That way I can get rid of him from the eleven. I can get Ponting to do some field placements. Now that should make the game more competitive and push our bowlers hard. Chris Gayle deciding the batting order should pose some problems for the fielding side – he will take so much time with his decisions on the batting order that it will affect the over-rate. Brendon McCullum can do some pitch reading, Brad Hodge can be the captain of the reserves… the possibilities are endless.
Me: Er, that’s quite not what I was thinking…
John: I think I’ve cracked this. This innovation should take the cricket world by storm. I can see the next ICC captain’s conference being held at the pitch at Lord’s, just to ensure there’s enough for all the captains from the different sides. Thanks for being a sounding board for my ideas, mate. You want to pick up the tab?
(To avoid the public glare wherever we go, John and I were in disguise at an undisclosable bar in Kolkata. Hence I cannot prove this conversation happened. Lucky bugger, John!)