‘Captaincy is about man-management’


Team spirit was the essence of Tamil Nadu’s triumph in the Ranji Trophy of the 1987-88 season, believes the side’s skipper S. Vasudevan.

That was also the last time, 28 years ago, Tamil Nadu won the most coveted prize in the Indian domestic cricket circuit.

It was the togetherness in the side which lent it the determination and the steel to overcome adversity.

“We had talent, of course, but we also possessed great unity,” said Vasudevan in a conversation with The Hindu here on Thursday.

Team spirit, he felt, had a lot to do with captaincy. “A captain has to bring the side together, he should not be divisive.”

A quality left-arm spinner, a useful left-handed batsman and a good fielder in the slips, Vasudevan picked up 214 wickets in 61 matches at 24.38, scored 1316 runs at 26.85 and held 49 catches. Vasudevan said, “First, a captain has to win the respect of the players. Then he has to perform a delicate balancing act.

“The seniors should not be undermined while the youngsters should feel comfortable.”

Backing youngsters
He remembered, “U.R. Radhakrishnan and M. Senthilnathan were youngsters coming into the side and I had a chat with them individually before their debut match. You need to give them confidence.”

Vasudevan added, “At the same time, I had to ensure that the seniors are given greater responsibility to make them feel involved. Much of captaincy is about man management.”

He explained, “A cricketer will have strength and weakness.

“You cannot focus too much on his weakness, undermine his belief, and make him lose his strength as well. In a team, you have players of different abilities and there are bound to be ego clashes. It’s the captain’s job to make the players see reason without offending anyone.”

Vasudevan said, “Importantly, a captain should never lose his cool and shout at his players on or off the field. This can demoralise the team.

“Instead, he can walk up and have a quiet word with the player concerned. Cricketers will make mistakes. No player is perfect.”

Speaking about the Tamil Nadu side of 1987-88, Vasudevan said, “We had a fine and well-balanced side with cricketers such as V.B. Chandrasekar, Radhakrishnan, P.C. Prakash, W.V. Raman, M. Senthilnathan, V. Sivaramakrishnan, L. Sivaramakrishnan, Robin Singh, B. Arun, M. Venkataramana, D. Girish and myself in the squad.”

That was a committed side with a sense of bonding.

In recent years, Tamil Nadu has not chugged along as a cohesive unit. There have been talks of divisions in the side. He said, “There could be a couple of players who are bad apples. In such situations, even a small incident could flare up.

“It is here that a captain has to be pro-active.”

Vasudevan comprehends a priceless cricketing truth — it is a team game.

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