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A Most Impressive Soliloquy

Its been a while since this item was originally published on the rediff.com website. However, I only got to it yesterday and I felt compelled to recommend it to our growing readership.

Just as a background, I rate Prem Panicker (yes that is the man himself if you've never seen him) in the league of very few when it comes to cricket journalism/writing. The said league includes only two other names, Harsha Bhogle and Peter Roebuck. Like the other two esteemed gentlemen, Prem's analysis and views are eloquently stated and it seems obvious that he gives due consideration to all facets of an issue, while still managing to produce very readable and uncomplicated articles.

In this vein, he has taken a hitherto virgin approach to interviewing the coach of a sporting team. In Prem's own words:

So finally, touched base with him, sought time, and when I met him -- at the Taj in Mumbai, the day before the Indian team left for the Carribbean -- decided to deviate from the normal way of doing interviews, and asked him if he would speak, uninterrupted, on one single question.

"This was the question: When, a little over 22 months ago, you interviewed with the BCCI for the job of Indian cricket coach, you had a vision -- the World Cup, and how India could best prepare to win it.

21 months after that vision was accepted, what has been the result? What has worked, what hasn't? If something hasn't worked, why not? How much were you able to do, how much were you not able to do and why? And finally, how ready is the team, now that the Cup is finally here?

That was the catch-all question I asked at the outset -- I then switched the tape on, and let him talk, for the next 41 minutes or so."

The actual interview can be found here. It is split into a number of 1-2 minute episodes that have served to provide the most honest, in-depth and lucid insight into the thinking that is undertaken off the field.

If you have listened to Greg Chappell on Crickinfo's "Roundtable" discusssions, you would have realised the man's innate nature to speak about a topic with seemingly the utmost honesty and integrity. No hype, no hoopla. IMHO, for this reason - if for no other - he has been the single best thing to happen to Indian cricket over the last couple of years.

Chappell discusses various players in the interview without a hint of negativity or partiality - one can imagine how difficult this may have been. You won't get a blueprint of the gameplan for the World Cup, but you will come away with greater knowledge about the importance of common-sense in planning for a cricket match.

Prem, thank you for this interview. Thank you for the work you keep producing, that in turn keeps feeding our passion for this most wonderful of games. I can't say I agree with all that you write, but then that is the beauty of opinions. I really hope you keep up the good work.


PS. Prem, a TV/radio show with you and Harsha and maybe Sunny discussing various goings-on in the cricket world would be quite an interesting concept. What say?

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