Hello everyone ! I am googly
wonder what Harsha Bhogle would be thinking about the events of the
last few months. He would be badly tempted to completely revise his
much acclaimed biography of Azharuddin. Or perhaps he will need to
write another one. And this time he will not find it half as enjoyable
as the previous time.
Has Ganguly arrived as a captain?
recent controversies about match fixing have hit cricket like nothing
so far has. Some maintain, that it has reduced its stature so
drastically that it has seized to be a “gentleman’s game”.
Nothing is further from truth. Perception, as is said, is more real
than reality itself.
History can be a consolation. It can be frightening too. Our beloved game had long lost her virginity and her body was violated over and over again. And even though the dark serpents kept raising their ugly heads, the game has survived. It has withstood all the ravages of time, the storms, the floods and the droughts. Today, it has reached a stage where all disasters are immune. The game cannot loose its tranquility anymore, her maturity can ward off any ungentlemanly behavior.
Yet, she can never wipe of the dark spots on her beautiful face. The first of them appeared as early as 1932-33. No points for guessing what it were. English captain Douglas Jardine wanted his bowlers to bowl short-pitched deliveries, aiming at the batsman’s body. His order was carried out to perfection. The Australians led by Sir Donald Bradman had no answer to Harold Larwood’s stuff, which also had a strong leg side cordon to aid him-two fine legs, a square leg, a mid-on and a cluster of short legs. Sports stand for peace. Not barbarism. Many Aussies were hit on the chest and the head. With no headgears in those days, facing “bodyline” bowling meant an open invitation to serious injuries, or even death. The repercussions that the series created had almost terminated the political relations between the two countries. Thank Heaven’s, it did not happen actually.
second dark circle was of a different nature. And perhaps the more
serious. Basil D’Oliviera, a coloured South African born all
rounder, was prevented from touring the “rainbow country” with the
English team in 1966-67. The evil in the form of Apartheid took its
first toll on cricket. South Africa was expelled from the
international arena and England on that occasion, promptly cancelled
the 80’s and the 90’s ball tampering, or “doctoring” as it
came to be known, became a serious controversy. Fingers were mainly
pointed at Pakistan, whose bowlers got the ball to reverse swing. But
as many countries followed Pakistan in perfecting the art, the debate
died a slow death. Manoj Prabhakar for India got the ball to reverse
swing considerably. A more recent example would be the young prodigy,
to Darrel Hair, “throwing” made bowlers loose their sleep. Muttiah
Muralitharan was no balled nine times in one match for “chucking”.
Our very own Rajesh Chauhan and Harbhajan Singh were asked to change
their bowling actions. TV cameras with their expert commentators began
to dissect bowlers like Hospital Surgeons. All these created a lot of
accusations and counter accusations and some bad blood between
latest of the dark circles is of course, match fixing which is not
necessarily the youngest. It came to the forefront in 1995 when Salim
Malik was accused by Shane Warne and Mark Waugh of trying to bribe
them into loosing a match during Australia’s tour of Pakistan that
year. In India, it had deeper roots. One Police Commissioner went on
record saying that match fixing was prevalent in Gavaskar’s time,
matured when Kapil was the captain and blossomed fully during
thing that comes out of all these, is the inter mingling of politics
and sports. It is not politics that depends on sports, but it is the
other way round. The bodyline controversy, the expulsion of South
Africa from international cricket and the betting scandal, all had a
political color attached to it. Sports, in any case has enough of its
own politics. So much so, that one wonders whether it is the
politicization of sports or the sportsisation of politics.
Victory is always sweet. It has an encouraging and electrifying effect on the winning team. It may seem ridiculous to imagine that victory may not have positive consequences. The first major casualty of success is reflection and retrospection, a very vital ingredient. One does not find many a thoughtful faces on a victory lap or deep furrows on the forehead while lifting a trophy.
India has had the fortune (or misfortune) of being a victorious side
many a times. It has recorded spectacular results in both the versions
of the game, albeit inconsistently so. It was natural that
We have won yet another series and added yet another feather to our cap if not another jewel in the crown. This victory is bound to give us a feeling that everything is fine and we can jolly well continue the way we are. All the past and recent defeats and humiliations will be forgiven and forgotten.
victory at home. It does have a special meaning for every country. But
not when it is India. The way India has defeated, destroyed and
demolished every single side at home with a monotonous regularity that
the entire exercise appears mundane if not a farce. We could not have
avoided winning even after fixing a couple of them. A decade of
unbeaten record at home. But abroad?
I would not be solving a mystery, if I say that the ineptness of our batsmen against fast bowling is the root cause. Every frontline Indian batsman has performed brilliantly, even abroad, but that was never enough to provide us with more than 3 victories in the past 15 years. The spineless displays of these very batsmen comprehensively outnumber the occasions when they had stood their ground to ensure a draw let alone a victory.
knowing the cause is one thing and not taking any steps to rectify the
disorder is another. Our cricket system falls in the second category.
For an entire decade it ordered doctored pitches as a tonic for a
defeated team. And the team never disappointed. A tacit quid pro quo.
You give me a doctored pitch and I will give you a victory, to distort
one of our famous national slogans.
A common suggestion is to prepare sporting pitches for a domestic series. That will rob us off an opportunity of making up for abroad losses through home victory and disappoint the fans. We know what has happened to us at Mohali. The Kiwis scuttled us for less than hundred and earlier we squandered the golden opportunity to end the unbeaten record of West Indies. Even the morning dew is enough to account for our collapses as Donald and Kasprovicz have proved on two occasions.The second idea is to prepare sporting tracks for our domestic cricket. Nothing could be more welcome than that except for the risk of running out of batsmen who can play spin and bowlers who can tweak the ball.
understand the need to prepare a turner, when the Kangaroos and the
Proteas visit us. But when less lethal sides like Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka
and New Zealand come calling, then we must have green tops, at least
in some matches of the series. A victory at any such venue would do
our batsmen a world of good.
Unless we give our batsmen a feel of genuine fast bowling, nothing is going to help. What about having Dravid or Ganguly play for Tasmania or Transval for some of their matches? Which side would not want to have crowd pullers like them? Conversely we can have a Donald or Lee bowling in our domestic championship. I am sure that the state associations are rich enough to afford that. To say in short, why do not we have a foreign player quota like the English have? Apart from breathing in a new freshness to our boring championships, it would give our youngsters a nice idea of the world outside.
I seriously place this propositions before the board for consideration. Six months of Ranji Trophy may be too much. But we can certainly have the services of foreign players in the knock out stages or at least in the Duleep Trophy.
The step would help our players in their transition phase. We will not end up with a long list of players like Raman, Rathor, Martin, Kanitkar etc, who could not convert their triple centuries into 50's at the Test level. And of course avoiding the home series from becoming a fixed affair.
Selection of the Selectors
"The wrong sort of
people are always in power because they would not be in power if they
Over the years, if the performance of our selectors is anything to go by, we would realize that they have done reasonably well to vindicate the above quote. The word 'cricket- selector' has an aura of enigma and intrigue and it has always been an object of criticism. And it is not very difficult to fathom the reasons because their actions have always been louder than their words!
The selector's very selection is often the result of politics, manipulation, maneuver and regional interest. Becoming a national selector is not an easy task, to do so, one has to please too many 'guardians' of Indian Cricket. In recent times, there has been a lot of debate on the selector’s selection process. There is one school of thought which believes that only former cricketers should be made selectors because they know what international cricket is all about. Apparently, it seems a good suggestion but again, it is not entirely necessary that only a former player will make it good selector.
There is another school of thought which believes that playing cricket at the highest level should not be made the only criteria for appointing someone a selector. It may deprive the chance to many who may not have played cricket to the highest level but whose knowledge may be better then others who have.
The examples of Harsha Bhogle or Amrit Mathur, to name a few, have more astute and perspicacious approach to the game. They may not have swung the ball, the way Kapil did or they may not have played the incredible square cut, the way Vishwanath did, but their knowledge and love for the game can't be questioned. So, there should be a way where a selection committee comprising former player and genuine professionals can be formed. Meanwhile, Sunil Gavaskar has suggested that a selector's selection should only be for 6 months and after each 2 months, their performance should be evaluated. The cricket lovers in India have always been demanding that the selector's job should be made accountable. They should be paid for it and there should be an element of professionalism. The so- called 'honorary' selector is a whole rubbish concept. By the way, why doesn't the Board let the selection committee's proceeding be live telecast- an idea suggested by one of most controversial selectors of all times - Kishan Runta, two years back. Thus, people would be able to know what exactly happens during a selection committee's meeting. However, it is very unlikely that our conservative board will embrace this revolutionary idea.
For India to become a World Class team it is imperative that the composition of the team is balanced and only the deserving candidates get a chance. The selectors must realize that the future of Indian cricket lies in their hands and only they can save it from going down in the dumps.
Lets sincerely hope and wish that eventually common sense would prevail over this honorary gentleman who have made a mockery of the word selectors.
We have two pictures with almost similar situations but totally different results. The first picture goes back to some year in the 90’s when former Pakistani keeper and captain Rashid Latif accused Pakistani and Indian players for throwing away matches in exchange of money. BCCI keeps quite. During that time Manoj Prabhakar accuses a former player without naming him of offering him25 lakhs to perform badly. The board reacts to almost zero degree. Enter the year 2000, and the Delhi police accuses Hansie Cronje of match fixing. He admits it and names Azharuddin as the one who introduced him to the bookies.
The board says we can’t take action until he is proven guilty. Income tax officials carry out raids on some of the cricketer’s houses that are suspected to be involved in match fixing and find out about some undisclosed amounts and properties. To this our Dear Mr. Lele says that Indians just cannot be involved in match fixing. All that they could do was drop the accused citing reasons, which are ambiguous to say the least.
talk about the other picture. In the first week of April the Delhi
police accuses Hansie Cronje of match fixing. Within a day he confesses
and in a week’s time he is banned for life. Not only that the inquiry
set up to investigate the issue also punishes the other accused Gibbs,
Williams and Strydom. There is another inquiry taking place in our
neighborhood in which big names from the Pakistani team are accused of
fixing matches. The main accused Salim Malik and Atar ur rehman are
banned for life. Inquiry against the others is still on and they have
been fined heavily.
Now after going through both the pictures what we gather is that something is seriously wrong with our system. On one hand people who have been accused are being reprimanded and banned for life and on the other hand some are getting away with well, nothing and almost every Indian feels that nothing will come out of the so called investigation which has been on for months now. So the question arises is there something terribly wrong with our system. No one is calling Azhar, Jadeja, Kapil Dev match fixers but why do we feel that even if they are involved they will get away with it. Why has our board kept shut about the whole thing when the others are so actively working on finding the culprits? Why do we get this creepy feeling that there is more to it than what meets the eye? Our law is very fragile and time and time again it has been seen that the accused doesn’t get duly punished and that encourages the person to go ahead with it. If the kind of nexus that is suspected to be on in India then it seems strange that the board was not aware of it. The CBI is supposed to submit their report to the government at the end of this month. Only time will tell how good their investigation was and how authentic as well. All we can hope is that the guilty should be punished and justice is done so that this great game’s pride can be restored forever.
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