May 14, 2017 – the final league game of the IPL 2017 season for the Kings XI Punjab. A must-win if they want to qualify for the playoffs. Coming off a couple of fantastic wins, and that too against stiff opposition, the mood must have been good, with the plan to go slam-bang from ball one working like a charm in those games.
Unfortunately, this time that plan backfires, wickets fall like nine pins, and the Kings XI Punjab are bowled out for just 73 by the Rising Pune Supergiant bowlers, ending their hopes of finishing in the top four of IPL 2017.
Glenn Maxwell, who had led the side pretty well through the season, said it was just one of those days, where nothing went right for them and everything went perfectly for the opposition.
And having valiantly fought to take this playoff race into the final game, you wouldn't want to be too harsh on the team for having an off day.
However, KXIP's coach or mentor or head of cricketing operations decided to take another path.
Questioned over Kings XI's collapse, Virender Sehwag went on a tirade, blaming the four overseas batsmen for not taking responsibility and the batsmen in general for failing in what was their most important game. He would then go on to blame the skipper Maxwell for not "firing in most games" during the season.
Basically, the coach/mentor/whatever-you-want-to-call-him threw his players under the bus.
You can imagine how the players would feel after that right?
At the end of the day, you need to understand the sensibilities of the job; of being a head coach of a major team, particularly in cricket.
A head coach in cricket is someone who needs to stay in the background, not be the news. When Sehwag went after his own players last time, he became the news and that should be avoided as much as possible.
Being a cricket coach isn't like a football manager – the king in cricket is the captain and then comes the players and then only the coach. A coach is the head of the support staff, and it is called support for a reason.
All the pre-match, post-match press conferences and interviews are done by the captain, not the coach. The coach is the one quietly doing his job, giving the captain and players inputs, confidence and advice whenever needed.
He isn't and shouldn't be someone who is front and centre.
That is why people like Gary Kirsten and John Wright had so much success as India coaches. Why Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Tom Moody, who has also applied for the India coach's position, are ideal for their franchises.
That is also the reason why Anil Kumble seemed like such a great choice. He has always been the silent type, and you knew he wouldn't be too bothered over getting exposure. The fact that the "schoolmaster" treatment did not go down too well is another matter.
Of course, if Sehwag takes over, there won't be any such problems – it will be "bindaas" for sure, but will it be much else?
And then there is the big problem of MS Dhoni.
It is a well known fact that Dhoni and Sehwag had problems when they were teammates, and how will the wicketkeeper feel if a teammate he previously did not get along with suddenly becomes his coach?
If there is one player, after Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, who deserves to call time on his own terms it is Dhoni – and MSD might just retire after the Champions Trophy and it won't be a problem anymore, but if he doesn't.....
Imagine, one day, during a press conference or a random interview, Sehwag, the India coach, bigs-up Rishabh Pant and says his future is now, not later, but now and he deserves to be in the India team or something along those lines. Hey, it's Sehwag and he is certainly capable of making those comments and more.
Think of the uncomfortable silence in the dressing room as Sehwag and Dhoni lock eyes after those quotes are published. Dhoni, probably already under pressure, will have issues with Sehwag, Sehwag being Sehwag won't keep quiet and all that will escalate into something that could have easily been avoided.
As nice as it might sound, and as fun as it might be, Sehwag and the India coach is a marriage fraught with danger, and that is something Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, who know the 'Nawab of Najafgarh' pretty well, need to take into consideration.
Dravid is right (when isn't he) – when it comes to coaching the national team, it is better if you wait for the next generation rather than coach the ones you called your teammates not too long ago.