Manoj Prabhakar gets candid about playing Pakistan in Sharjah

Quick results versus the Learning Curve

Today’s generation focuses a lot more on quick results and this article explores why such a methodology is not helping Indian cricket. The anxiety of performance during crucial matches and big ticket tournaments are wrong performance goals that some of today’s youngsters focus on, as a result of which the focus is not on basics, but on trivial short term interests. In an interview with the former Indian ace swing bowler, Manoj Prabhakar, what comes to fore is a sad disease that’s plaguing Indian cricket. Manoj Prabhakar is in Chennai as part of Delhi’s coach for their Ranji campaign against Tamil Nadu this week.

Manoj reflects on the sad fact that today’s pace bowlers have set the wrong performance goals like going after the pace gun on the pacementer and losing focus on important elements like swing and the right action. Manoj feels that for a bowler to mature, he needs to go through the complete learning curve where he experiments and always keeps coming back to check if his basics are fine. Today’s bowlers in India don’t seem to have the right interest levels to work hard and want to use the shortcuts to fame. He feels part of the problem is also due to the wrong set of people/coaches heading various committees for spotting grassroot talent in India, who use the wrong yardstick for picking youngsters.
Manoj reminisces the fact that there were many legends in his time like Lilee,Imran,Hadlee and he never missed an opportunity to speak with legends and credits them for passing over a lot of information and tricks of the trade. His interaction was them was more than just a coaching session, but an education into the techniques of what makes a legend and gives an insight into their work ethics.Today’s youngsters don’t seem to be wanting to learn and are more bothered about dropping their sunglasses than their kit, and the work ethic needs to be paid more attention. An interesting observation was made over why Ishant Sharma had lost some of his fire. Ishant non bowling arm shoulder was dropping, as a result of which rhythm,swing,bounce,line and length got gradually affected and he was like a snake that had lost its fangs for the better part of a season.

Manoj also rewinded back to his playing days where he still cant offer an explanation as to why India had the mental block of beating Pakistan at Sharjah and considers David Boon,Gavaskar,Sachin and Gooch as the toughest batsmen, he really doesn’t enjoy bowling to.

In Manoj’s time of the early 90’s India’s yearly international cricketing commitments were never more than 7-8 test matches and 20 ODI’s. In such a context, India’s national players were available for a large part of the Ranji season, and therefore could work on their shortcomings in the Ranji season, and also get to interact with legends. Today the shortcut to the fame that a legend like Kapil Dev has got for himself, are things like endorsements and contracts with IPL Teams which puts you on a high income category and the focus is more on remaining in the high interest category, rather than working on the game to remain an ardent student.

It’s a fine line players have between commercial interests and working on their game, in the times of grueling schedules and shorter cricketing careers, but its in their hands to choose their priorities for the long term. No legend today has risen on the basis of just 2-3 performance, but risen on a sustained run of good performances against adverse odds over time. Living examples like Sachin,Dravid,Sehwag and Kumble should be the role models for the youngsters to drive home the message that the movie ‘3 Idiots’ dwelled upon (Focus on Excellence, Success will follow) that once the runs or wickets are taken, the dollars automatically takes care of itself to fall into your lap.

Though India under Gary Kirsten have progressed to the top of the rankings, to be there at the top like Australia did, unless the BCCI focuses on an excellence program at spotting talent and nurturing them, India may not quite have the wherewithal to last at the top. So in the race to Quick Results, if you have reached there fast, keep the smile with you for a little longer, for braving the problems that soon follow, and once you have crossed the arc of the learning curve in due time, your gold at the end of the rainbow is waiting.

The complete interview can be downloaded/listened to at www.soundcloud.com/katchucrap

Kartik Kannan

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