Of scribes and analysts
Shankar Sengupta - 03 March 2002
You can argue not much happened on Day 3 of the second Test between Zimbabwe and India at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla. Bad light and rain interrupted play. About half the allotted overs were bowled and about 150 runs were made. But the day must have been a tough one for some of our sports writers and analysts to swallow.
They had a busy morning explaining why Sachin ‘God’ Tendulkar could not deal with a mere mortal like Ray Price the preceding afternoon. After all, does anybody outside the sub-continent really know how to bowl spin? The fact that Price on this day had indeed bowled superbly to keep Tendulkar under control was totally unacceptable to but a few. Thankfully, the BCCI and their panel of selectors, while announcing the Indian squad for the first three one-dayers later in the day, came up with a mysterious knee ailment that never found mention when Tendulkar scored his century at Nagpur. Maybe the little master is just bored. Who knows?
During the morning session, as play was interrupted, talk and discussion turned to how Ganguly had managed to get Dravid out with his woeful decision making. A score of 74 had somehow quelled criticism of Saurav's batting woes and the pundits were elated that they had discovered this other chink in Ganguly's dodgy resume.
But then what happened during the third day really put a lot of them in serious quandary. Those that had made a living out of Ganguly's lack of form were left wondering what they could do now. Snide remarks were made as to how Sanjay Bangar was the second victim of indifferent running between the wickets by the captain. Remember, these same folks were questioning Bangar's inclusion at the expense of Virender Sehwag in the first Test. Some even grudgingly admitted that Ganguly may now be retained as the captain for the tour of the West Indies.
The search is now on for the next big negative. Other than when talking about Tendulkar, no one talks about the pluses. Dasgupta is another candidate for criticism, but compared to Ganguly he is a minnow. And remember, they had 28 months to develop and nurture the Ganguly story. What or who could lend them so much fodder, and for that kind of a time frame?
Maybe it is time for positivism. For instance, why not concentrate on the fact that out of India's roughly 70 Test victories to date, at least ten percent of the wins have been achieved in the last couple of years. Why? Probably because we are playing more Tests. But there you go again negativism!
Why not be positive about it for a change? Maybe the right folks are being picked to represent the country and being given adequate opportunity, maybe the coach knows what he is doing, maybe the 'in your face' attitude of the captain has rubbed off onto the players.
Frankly, I remember the sixties and seventies when the then ‘Turbanator’ - Bishen Singh Bedi - led India without direction, without results and to sure capitulation when playing overseas. And Sunil Gavaskar, for his part, ran his team as a personal fiefdom acting like a miffed maharajah at the slightest provocation. Can you imagine a player from Orissa making the cut in those decades, unless of course he went played for Bombay!
So Mr Bedi, take my advice and stop talking about 'pygmies' and complaining in general. Please do not show your lack of judgment by pontificating and thereby fanning the frustrations of newly appointed scribes. History and the present record do not back you up. Or follow (the equally illogical yet maybe not as pernicious) Mr Gavaskar’s irrepressible critical focus on visiting teams.
Back to Kotla and the third day’s play, did I mention that Sehwag made a breezy 74 and lived up to his image of ‘mini-Sachin’ by falling lbw? This cannot be a coincidence as the head astrologer at yourpalmreadforfree.com confirmed. And Ganguly’s ton was not really an achievement. If they let me play for 28 months, I will get lucky sooner or later.
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