The Devil Be Thanked For It
By S Zeyaur Rahman
great institutions are proud of their history. They depend on it totally for
their identity and take recourse to it in their dark hours. Where as the truth
is that the present, every hour and every minute determines them. Every new
event opens a new dimension, adds a new facet. In the process we forget the
greatest of them all, the future. It is for the future that the past is
preserved; it is for the future that the present is tamed. All efforts are made;
every care is taken for the future to be enticed into becoming a legacy.
113 years of cricket do not tell any different story. The game has traveled a
long way from the long room of Lords and broad alleys of Melbourne to murky and
dingy strips in the miserable place called South Asia. Traditions are a nice
thing to be proud of, worthy to be defended, but when mummifying the tradition
becomes a tradition in itself, when our perspectives lies trapped in the past at
the cost of the vision of future, then there is something wrong somewhere.
ever is in favour of outright changes. The fear of the unknown, the unseen and
the unforeseen has been an effective deterrent, in fact detrimental to progress.
Not only do we behave skeptically about the new, but resist them with a dogged
resilience. The trait is all too obvious during the infant stages.
But what about cricket which is anything but an infant. The problem with cricket
as an institution is that it has left its infancy far behind, a long time ago,
but hesitated in accepting puberty, rejected accepting the turmoil of
adolescence. It was nothing but an ostrich attitude that deluded us in believing
in purity and sinn-lessness that is impossible at a stage, where desires and
fantasy overtake and overpower innocent explorations and ignorant machinations.
In the big bad world, we went about as gentlemen, which was akin to refusing our
association with the integral and inherent evil - the fundamental of existence.
Cricket enjoyed a certain moral high plank, which was well earned and well
deserved to a large extent. It did have its advantages. Where else will you find
a player getting fined for staring hard at his opponent? But the disadvantages
accruing out of it were many. The biggest of all was the false faith that the
men in white flannels are as clean as they are supposed to be. Nobody neither
ever dared to question the supposition nor ever tried to cross check the facts
Through out the illustrious history of the game, there were sufficient warnings
and signals of deterioration. What was the Body Line Series? The Leg Theory was
a manifestation of making the game as aggressive as its other counterparts. But
it was too 'uncricketly' to be tolerated. Gentlemen are never aggressive, at
least not explicitly so. What was the packer Circus? It was the entry of big
money into the game, a welcome professionalism. It was treated as
susceptibility to lure by cricketing standards. Gentlemen are not greedy either,
at least not overtly so. The list goes on.
By no means I am in favour of corrupting the game by
incorporating ideas and ideals that are alien or contradictory to the spirit of
the game, but look where this status quoism has brought us! What we did not
allow formally, entered through the back door and one fine morning blew the lid
It is indeed a sign of degeneration that things like match fixing and ball
tampering have entered the folds of cricket. On the fillip side it is the sign
of maturity of the game. Yes I repeat, it is a sign of maturity because infants
do not sin, it is only the grown ups that are capable of it. In fact the loss of
innocence would be a nice way to define maturity.
has been disowning the evils associated with it for too long a time. For the
stupid reason that it could not allow itself to be associated with the
malignant. So instead of countering the problem, it refused to admit the
existence of the problem.
Let us pause and think the great good that these evils have done to us. God gave
us the paradise, but it is the Stan that gave us the world. The Devil be thanked
that he got humanity rid of the boring bliss and catapulted us into reality from
utopia. It is not overcoming but succumbing to the temptation that makes us
realize our limits. Cricket is obliged to the Hansies and Azhars that have left
us with no choice but to tackle the malice. I would not mourn the loss of
paradise but celebrate he efforts to make the world a better place.
This has been the best gift that the parting year has given to us. The year 2000
would apparently go down as a Black Year in the annals of cricket. But I would
put it in the top bracket, ahead of many a great achievements, because it has
necessitated a much necessary change.
With Change life gets a meaning, the past ceases to be a liability of
traditions; the present is no more only a transition and we begin to hope rather
than fear the future.
Good Bye 2000 and a very big Thank You.
Sunil Gavaskar is regarded as one
of the most sensible and cool brains of Indian Cricket. During his
playing days, barring one or two incidents, the man was an epitome of an
unflappable individual for most of the time. Despite being a tele-commentator and a professional
coloumnist, where criticizing for
anything is as natural as breathing, the man hardly gets controversial.
Infact, the little master chooses his words and expressions so
meticulously that, one can hardly disagree.
On the other hand, the former BCCI
President Raj Singh Dungarpur may not have the aura of our dear Sunny,
but he is one of the most influential members of BCCI. Due to his
excellent service to Indian cricket, he is highly respectable
personality in the cricketing circle. Infact, he is affectionally known
as ‘Raj Bhai’ due to his ‘big brotherly’ image. In past, Sunny
has said on the record that Raj Bhai is a deservingly respectable
So, considering the above and
knowing the kind of maturity and sensibility they possess, it was
awkwardly astonishing to see that; they were indulged in scathing war of
words. Very uncharacteristic and to be frank - unbecoming of the kind of
person they are.
However, one of the positive
developments in the past two days has been that BCCI President A.C.
Muthiah has taken the role of a peacemaker, to sort out the differences
between the two. The resignation of Sunil Gavaskar has not been accepted
and it is believed that Board will dissuade Sunny. And it is also
believed that Sunny has softened his stand.
For his part, Raj Singh has also
changed his stance when he stated that he was also ‘upset’ over what
happened. Infact, he even hinted that he wouldn’t mind working with
Both admit that in past, they have
enjoyed a fine rapport and they won’t be too rigid to bury the
hatchet, and that is what Indian Cricket needs. As Raj Singh Dungarpur
has played an equally important role in the development of Indian
Cricket, the NCA would have been the biggest loser from this clash
between the two icons.
selectors unfair to Robin Singh?
The exclusion of Robin Singh from the national team for the one day
series against the touring Zimbabweans might have been a bit surprising
for fans across the country, but it wasn’t truly shocking. Indian
cricket has seldom shown sympathy for those, who keep a low profile. Had
there been hype over Robin, selectors wouldn’t have dared to discard
Giving young blood a chance to
prove their potential is fine, but discarding the proven soldiers
without a rhyme or reason is intriguing. It is no secret to anybody that
the veteran from Tamil Nadu is one of the most consistent one-day
players after Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar and his record speaks
For a moment, forget about
statistics. Isn’t he one of the most committed cricketers in Indian
cricket for over a decade? Robin Singh’s fielding doesn’t need
adjectives for description. His batting may not have the flair of a
Tendulkar or the elegance of a Sourav, but when it comes to winning the
matches, he is not far behind, if not equal.
Conventional wisdom says that age
should not be the yardstick but performance should be. If a 38-year-old
Walsh is bowling with intimidating dexterity, then will you still go for
an unknown rookie? No, you won’t. Of course, the exact parallel
can’t be drawn with Robin Singh, but one must say that at no.6, he is
perhaps the best net with his enormous amount of experience. This
becomes even more significant after the absence of two senior players -
Azhar and Jadeja, because besides the three at the top order no one is
experienced in the middle order to handle pressure.
Many a times, Robin has given stability to the ‘formidable
on paper’ middle order. Very recently, during the ICC Knockout quarter
final against the Aussies, it was Singh in the company of Yuvraj, who
posted a competitive total and went on to win the match. Of course,
Yuvraj’s magnificent 84 were very vital, but Robin Singh was also
instrumental in guiding the youngster and contributing his bit.
One of the connoisseurs of the game, Harsh Bhogle always
speaks highly about his ability. So do the other pundits like Ian
Chappell and Barry Richards, who were never short of praise for this
utility man of Indian cricket? Selectors may argue that they have an eye
on the 2003 World Cup, so the infusion of fresh blood is a necessity.
Agreed. But is it justified that seasoned campaigners like Robin Singh
must be made a scapegoat.