the no-nonsense space

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Coach ki khoj

Its the most high profile sporting headhunts ever witnessed in India. The most important episode of Coach ki khoj was today being played uot in delhi. The hopefuls were suitably dressed, and mouthed all the correct phrases when chased down by the pack of overzealous sports journalists. Greg Chappel, who going by the media buzz is the hot favourite looked like an accomplished, yet frugal CEO of an English life insurance firm walking into a roomful of investment bankers, trying to close a deal to his and only his advantage. Given the amount he thinks about the game, and his reputation as a master theoretian/tactician Chappel walked into Taj Palace in a crisp, white striped shirt and black trousers, carrying (what else) a laptop. Chappel tried his best not to pay attention to the waiting mediapersons who were almost beseeching him to say something that would remotely make a good copy. His is gait, still head and unwavering focus suggested that he could be walking upto the crease to face a new ball attack led by Holding and Roberts and not a bunch of slightly slower-in-pace Indians like Gavaskar, Venkatraghavan, and Ravi Shastri.
I followed him from the lobby, down the escalator through to the hall where he was to be interviewed. With atleast 10,000 pictures clicked in 100 seconds, Chappel could be forgiven, if for minute he thought he was Russel Crowe walking down to Bondi beach.

The banquet halls at Taj Palace have played host to some of the most powerful and rich businessfolk and politicians in India and around the world, but this interview was something else. Afterall it was, in a big big way, going to decide the Gross National Happiness of the country. Several manhours, lives, hours of nightly slumber, investor confidence, TRP ratings and resultantly, crores of rupees could be lost if the three gentlemen sitting in the hot seat at this Delhi Hotel misjudged this catch (forgive the bad pun).

Chappel managed a plastic smile, but TomMoody let it be known that wasn't to be disturbed. Eyes on the ball; right from the time the bowler runs in. Simpson would have been proud.

Sitting in the lobby I was praying that my interview subject for the day--the director of executive compensation practice at a global consultancy--was delayed further as another applicant Desmond Haynes swaggered in.
And what a contrast he was to the businesslike Aussies with is glistening bald head black suit a blue tie. When I walked up to him along with a couple of other sports journalist with a hello-Desmond I'm so-and-so, he instantly warmed up as if we were long-lost friends who shared the dressing room. "Hey maan howwayu dooin," he chirped.
Haynes was perhaps attending the most important interview post his cricketing life (or may be its us Indians who're taking this whole damn thing too seriously) but it was almost as if he was here in india to attend a reunion bash.
This carefree attitude was perhaps the leitmotiff of the West Indies cricket back in the 1980s when talent came in abundance. I asked Haynes pointing to his bag which presumably had a laptop which had a powerpoint presentation, "so what do you have in it?" "Somethin Mr. wright didn't have." And he broke into a laughter which could have resonated right down to Wellington, or wherever Mr Right was strumming his guitar. and haynes let that killer laughter out on three more occasions--once even getting the attention of the garrulous Mr. rahul bajaj who was trying to check out and settle his bills.
Perhaps the West Indians need no invitation to talk. Haynes went on about the long flight from Barbados, the sad state of cricketing affairs in this homeland, and why he'd not be queueing up for the same job in the West Indies. It was great while the conversation lasted, but I wondered if the seemingly happy-go-lucky opener was the best thing for Indian team whose work ethics is still not up there, bar a few Individuals. But then again appearences can be deceptive.

Unfortunately, my time had run out and I had to do the most exciting bit of my days work which involved talking about ESOPs and why CEO salaries in Europe and America grew under 5 per cent last.

My friends in the fraternity tell me that Mohinder paaji spent the whole of last night learning to boot a laptop and operate PPoint, now that's it's become a neccessity. Amarnath undoubtedly has the cricketing pedigree and has exhibited great gusto on the field to sway the opinion of M/S gavaskar and shastri, but he sadly lacks the vision to lead a side consisting individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds. I once heard him (not read, mind you) in an interview proclaiming that Maharastrians and North Indians were genetically blessed with fighting abilities, and the much vaunted "killer instinct", and to prove his point he cited examples such as guru gobind singh and Chhatrapati shivaji!! This was sometime in 1996 on a now defunct TV channel promoted by hindustan Times. Wouldn't that qualify as a racial remark? when Kumble bowled against Lara with a broken jaw held together by heavy bandage in Antigua in 2001, the first thing that occured to me was to can the footage and send it across to the Amarnath household in Delhi. Punjabi myopia, did yo say?