Saturday, March 25, 2006

Agony of a helpless fan

Reactions have started pouring in about the way India lost the final test. A lot of introspection, analysis, in depth discussions on what went wrong went throughout the media and it is high time that I give my own view. A lot of hype was generated over this match because it was Tendulkar’s 132nd and Dravid’s 100th one. The irony of the fact as one television viewer put it was the way the team showed him due respect with a 100 all out in the final innings. There are a couple of reasons involved with this abysmal show and I would come across one by one.
First of all, the toss. Winning the toss and then electing to field was as good as losing the toss. One error of judgment probably cost the match. Someone said that had Dravid batted first the result would have been opposite. When Srinath was asked about the reason for fielding first he was diplomatic in answer and came up with a reply that Dravid had full confidence on his bowlers. What a way to show parochialism!! I wonder why some of it was not reserved for Ganguly when he was being crucified in front of the whole country. But in the post match press conference Dravid tried to defend his decision saying that had he lost the toss what would have happened? That’s a poor explanation considering the fact the importance of toss would be lost and we would always prefer to lose the toss so that the captain has complete confidence on his players? What an argument? Common sense dictates that when you decide to let go an opportunity you are either extremely brave or extremely dumb. It was not the first time that Dravid had shown the tendency to sacrifice. He opened in tests against Pakistan and we lost badly.Dravid, we all know is an extremely nice guy. So nice, that he would rather prefer to be a sacrificial lamb himself than sacrifice others for the team. Time and again he fails to realize how valuable is he for the team and how to preserve himself for the best of situation. In short he is an extremely poor man manager. It did not help that to preserve the top order batsmen from the onslaught he bought Kumble to bat in the top order. Predictably Kumble managed just 8.
Now comes the batting. Before the beginning of every series the media goes into a top drive and declares that the batting line up is the best in the world. Even before the Indians bat for themselves the media starts batting for them. Is it a fable? As Geoffrey Boycott pointed out the Indians might be the maharajahs of flat pitches but they are beggars elsewhere. Who is to blame? The media which creates hype or the batsmen who fail to live up to the hype and prefers to divert their energies to advertising pursuits. If I am to put it bluntly then except Sachin and Dravid other batsmen are not genuine batsmen but a bunch of entertainers.
Next is Sachin Tendulkar. My only prayer to the media and the idol-starved Indian public is to leave him alone. For 16 years you have put piles of pressures on him. He never proclaimed that he was God. You made him God. And when he starts acting like human you start treating him like Satan!!! The fact is he is human. And humans are mortal. The problem with Sachin is people shoot up their hands in air in a mild symbol of resignation and say the same thing over and over again when confronted with the question of what is wrong with Sachin. “I am too small to comment on him. He is the master of his own destiny.” People start reciting the famous lines from William Henley’s Invictus.
His dilemma then is, whom should he ask for support and direction at this fragile point? The only two people who come to my mind seem to be Ramakant Achrekar and Sunil Manohar Gavaskar, the first little master.Sachin has undergone so many surgeries owing to back spasm, tennis elbow and wrist injury that his batting style has undergone major changes. Age does not help and the changes are noticeable in his battings. He has cut down on playing hooks and pulls and his reflexes are not as razor sharp as they used to be.
Returning to the final test what worsened the situation was poor fielding. A captain should be a great motivator on the field.Dravid is not. He dropped catches. That might have been justifiable because he is after all human but to undertake the burden of captaincy and show your true worth as a leader you have to rise to the occasion. It does not help that Dravid is not an aggressive captain. India had discovered the great art of aggression with Ganguly and perhaps that art has died with him. Dravid should realize that to lead by example all the time one has to be a superman.
Finally the fact that the team has gone through a lot of restructuring and overhauling. Too much of everything is bad. And the fact that Chappell is bringing in personal egos by not bringing in experienced players does not help the cause. Ganguly might not be a good prospect for the World Cup but at least he could have been played in the final test. If experience counts for a lot of value in life then why not in cricket? Cricket is a major part of our lives too. Every Indian’s life.