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Paradise Lost 
The Devil Be Thanked For It 
By S Zeyaur Rahman 

All 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.

The 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.  

Nobody 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 for himself. 

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 off.

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. 

Cricket 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.  

Sunny and Raj Singh soften their stand 
An auspicious sign
By V Kumar

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 figure.

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 Gavaskar, again.

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.

Are selectors unfair to Robin Singh?  
By Vimal Kumar

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 him.

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 himself.

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.            

 





























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