Sunday, September 18, 2016

TNPL Gokulakrishnan Madanagopal

Brothers come together as coaches to fashion a turnaround victory in the TNPL
Their 'outside' districts pick of Ganesh Moorthy pays off dramatically in the FINAL

Just under five years ago, I decided to write about a budding umpire  J Madanagopal ( former Ranji Trophy cricketer) - And as I landed up one afternoon at the Vivekananda College in Mylapore to do a photo shoot, I saw him talking to a young 21 year old Kaushik Gandhi who was listening with studious intensity. Madanagopal who mentored Kaushik from a young age was also the one who picked him for Grand Slam in the first division league when he was just 17 years old. 
When the players draft was announced a few months back, Kaushik Gandhi was one of the first players Madanagopal picked for he knew that this bat had great potential. And Kaushik Gandhi lived up to that in the TNPL with crucial knocks in each of the critical matches and ended up as the second highest run scorer in the tournament.                      

                                                                   KAUSHIK GANDHI              
Brothers DJ Gokulakrishnan and Madanagopal, who are coming together on the coaching front for the first time in their career also took the big plunge of picking Dinesh Karthik and Abhinav Mukund ( despite running the risk of them being unavailable for a few of the matches ( when many others were wary of picking these two Ranji stars). And really that turned out to be the best pick of the tournament as the two made match winning contributions in both the semis and the Final. 

However, it was the behind the scenes contribution that Gokulakrishnan and Madanagopal made during the crucial phase when the team had lost three in a row and were staring an early exit that really made the big difference especially in the matches when Abhinav and Dinesh weren’t around. 
Gokulakrishnan has been the coach with the Tamil Nadu teams for almost a dozen years (TN Ranji coach for 5 years and State U19 coach for 5 years on either side of his Ranji coaching stint). Both Madanagopal and Gokulakrishnan have also been each managing a first division side of India Cements for the last few years and their belief in players whom they have been working with for the last few years has really paid dividends in this tournament. 

Apart from DK, Abhinav and Balaji ( who are all players from India Cements), lesser known players such as Aushik Srinivas, Kaushik Gandhi and Ashwin Crist (who too Madanagopal has mentored over the years) have all been coached by Gokulakrishnan and Madanagopal in the last few years.

It was their understanding of the players' strengths that really helped these players when they were seemingly down and out. At that stage when they had lost three in a row, the team could have easily gone the way of the Madurai team. 

It was with that sense of self belief that the team went in for the crucial 5th and 6th matches in the league phase and came out trumps.

Both of them have right through their career kept a very low profile preferring to stay away from the limelight and doing their job in a quiet, unglamourous way allowing their work to do the talking for them. And in line with that, none of the TV commentators throughout the tournament right till the very end made any mention of the coaches of Tuti Patriots while the cameras repeatedly focused on bigger brand names such as Klusenar and Robin Singh!!!!

(Gokulakrishnan and Madanagopal weren't on camera even after the tournament victory preferring to take a back seat and allowing the players to savour the moment)

It was very surprising that even S Sriram (former Ranji bat) who focused most of his time in the commentary box on the technical aspects of the game unlike most of his colleagues there failed to take notice of the contribution of the coaching unit of Tuti till almost the very end of the Final.

There were not even any mentions in the papers on how Tuti came back from the dumps to the knock out (they were right near the bottom after 4 matches having lost three in a row).
Belief in Ganesh Moorthy

The two also spotted the talent in a districts’ lower division’ cricketer and gave him the belief that he could be a match winner in this form of the game. Ganesh Moorthy played all but one of the league matches and also bowled at the top of the innings in most of the matches. In the super over finish against Dindigual, he was given the opportunity, despite being raw and unproven, ahead of state bowler Aushik Srinivas. Two rank bad balls in that super over cost Tuti the match.

(Gokulakrishnan had then told this writer to wait and watch and was confident that he would deliver before the end of the tournament for he said that he had the makings of a good spinner)

Despite that shattering blow, Madanagopal and Gokulakrishnan kept the belief in the districts spinner who then repaid this strong belief with a match winning over in the final with 4 wickets in the first over of the huge chase that turned the final completely one sided in the process bagging the Man of the Final award.

Their hard work away from the media glare and their in-depth understanding of their players in a new tournament that overall had an unknown player mix contributed in a large way to the team staying together even in bad times paving the way for the turnaround.

( For the record, in the Semi Final and Final, Abhinav Mukund's 90 and 80 NO and Dinesh Karthik's dashing knocks helped set up a huge score)

It is hoped that the TNCA will take notice of the two coaches and their back room contribution to this tournament victory.

Best Wishes to Madanagopal (he is well regarded as a mentor by many of the leading players of Tamil Nadu) who now turns his focus back to his umpiring career ahead of the new Ranji season. (He is now a TOP 25 umpire in the BCCI Panel). 

Gokulakrishnan will have to wait it out to see if he will be assigned a coaching role by the TNCA this season!!!!)

PS: It was saddening to find our Indian commentators sucking up so much to the foreign commentators. Equal amount of time was spent boosting the image of these former cricketers and their supposed interests in the traditional TN food!!! It almost seemed that we were back to the British Raj. So much time did the production team and our local commentators give to these Aussie commentators that it seemed like they were larger than life (TNPL) characters of the tourney.

Repeated imagery of their restaurant trips and showcasing their presence at the temples making it seem like an exhibition exercise was disheartening. 

I hope our local commentators like Bosskey and Sadagopan Ramesh ( he is as lazy in the box as he was at the crease!!!) will remember that the temple is a sacred place of worship and not a tourist center.  Breaking of coconuts in front of God is not an activity for fun. Presenting and Submitting yourself in front of Lord Ganesha is also not a fun activity meant to test the fitness levels of these commentators. Do these local Tamil commentators realise this when they are on camera or was their mandate to convert this entire series of activities into one of fun and entertainment.

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, who himself recently told this writer that he has been a regular to the Guruvayoorappan/ Ayyapan temple in the city especially during his low phase in his cricketing life, even went to the extent of calling this a promotion of art and culture of Tamil Nadu. It will do LS a lot of good if he focuses his commentary on the cricketing content which he is good at.

It is one thing to be respecting the overseas cricketers for their cricketing achievement but it is quite something else to be making fashion statements out of them during ongoing LIVE Telecasts. 

(Sriram was probably the sole exception and the lone bright spot as he was there on the dot in terms of technicalities of the game right through the tournament, though he too was swayed once in a while by Bosskey's one liners. He was the only one who spoke about Dindigul's needless changes in the middle of the tournament and the likely impact, the need for placing 4 fielders for Ganga Sridhar Raju's cut shots and the impact of the breeze in Tirunelveli and the choice of ends for key bowlers while most others focused on easier topics of food, beaches and temples)

Star Sports and Vijay TV have made a complete mess of the coverage in their effort to make this a semi entertainment affair and to try and hit the TRPs. Rarely has cricketing coverage touched such a low in the three decades of LIVE coverage that one has seen in India.

 It is hoped that LS and co will learn from this and stick to cricketing engagements in the future.


Anonymous said...

Super Prabhu !! Hope DJG makes it big as a coach, at the least that would be a bit of a poetic justice done to a great bowling career nipped when it started to blossom 😀

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece Prabhu.
Fantastic effort by the duo

Ram said...

Hi Prabhu,Awesome stuff, quick too., these two brothers are formidable source, they are the best strategist, Madi is cool, calm and calculative, Hope they both continue to play important roles for future youngsters.

Unknown said...

Insightful as always! Brilliant stuff Prabhu sir.

H IYAPPAN said...