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‘Leader can’t wait for others to catch up’
- The world’s No. 1 coach, John Buchanan, ‘warns’ there won’t be any let-up in the 2003-2004 season

Calcutta: Coach John Buchanan has a new look, but Australia’s ruthless being-on-top-of-the-world approach won’t change in the next season, which begins unusually early — in July.

Incidentally, Team India will be touring Australia end-November onwards.

“I don’t think it’s going to be good for cricket if the leader waits for others to catch up… It’s others who should aspire to play at a particular level…Sure, one looks at even competition but, in my opinion, that must consistently be at a higher and not a lower standard,” Buchanan told The Telegraph, Thursday evening.

In the city as guest speaker (on managing champion teams) for HSBC, he added: “There won’t, then, be any let-up in our approach against Bangladesh next month. When players wear the baggy green, that 100 per cent will always be there.”

However, Buchanan acknowledged that, sub-consciously, the bit about playing Bangladesh did exist. “Whether that’s going to manifest itself on the field is something that remains to be seen,” the coach pointed out.

But, surely, his own planning will be a little ‘different’…

“Yes, I don’t think it will be in that much detail… Shouldn’t be too… Having said that, generally, the motivation won’t be low because the two-Test series will be a first and, then, Darwin and Cairns will both be new centres…” Buchanan replied.

Significantly, he didn’t dismiss Dennis Lillee’s suggestion that the ICC restructure the ten Test-playing nations’ club into two divisions, thereby separating the “under-performing” sides from the more accomplished ones.

“I’m not saying what Dennis has said is the only view. At the same time, I agree there must be a system of review… That, indeed, will be healthy. Moreover, no suggestion should be brushed aside,” Buchanan opined.

His contract, by the way, is being renegotiated with the Australian Cricket Board (Cricket Australia from July 1) and he indicated changes have been sought. For obvious reasons, specifics weren’t divulged.

Asked just how much longer should Steve Waugh continue to play (and lead the Test side), Buchanan grinned: “It’s always nice to have Steve around, but I don’t have a say in his future… It’s for him and the selectors to take a decision after the Bangladesh-series.”

Usually, the sport’s hottest coach doesn’t talk much about individuals, but he didn’t duck the query on senior pro Glenn McGrath’s conduct vis-à-vis Ramnaresh Sarwan in the recent Antigua Test.

“He’s sorry that incident occurred, I’m sorry it happened… It’s something that shouldn’t be repeated… If I may add, there’s a case for reviewing things in the next six-eight months,” Buchanan said, conveying his unhappiness over what unfolded at St John’s.

His only other visit to Calcutta, by the way, was 27 months ago when Sourav Ganguly’s side pulled off an epic victory at the Eden. Today, he has “vivid memories” of that “great game and series”.

“Had I been more experienced, I could have thought of something else… Our response to the situation, therefore, may well have been different. Only, that’s…” Buchanan, who jogged on the Maidan (soon after checking into his hotel) and didn’t miss the Eden’s floodlight towers, trailed off.

This time, of course, he is sans that trademark moustache and is “struggling” to get some of the hair back on his head.

Laughing, Buchanan revealed having promised Ricky Ponting and Co. that he would shave off both if Australia retained the World Cup. Well, Australia did.

“Actually, I did tell the boys that I need not keep my side of the bargain as I didn’t shave off both in South Africa itself. But, then, they insisted I keep my word and, so, I went clean during the closing stages of our West Indies tour,” Buchanan signed off.

The coach’s assignment-with-a-difference is slated for Friday night and he will be off to Australia the day after.

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