Friday, September 22, 2006

Enough is Enough. Bring Back Sourav!

And Laxman. And Kumble. And Zaheer.
And while we are it, might as well get John Wright back.

For more than one year, I am constantly being subjected to this Great World Cup Dream - where every thing is conspiring to make us win in West Indies.
A specialist opener is coming one down. Experiment to improve versatility.
The world's best player of the middle overs is opening. Experiment to make him last till the middle overs.
The pinch-hitter is coming in the 32nd over. Experiment to see if we can lift the ball with the field restrictions off.
Connecting flight between matches delayed. Experiment to improve patience.
Bombs go off in Bombay. Experiment to improve mental toughness.
Playboy all-rounder spotted with starlet in night-club. Experiment to improve stamina.
I am sure even the rains of Kuala Lampur happened at the behest of His Holiness Greg Chappell so that his wards can take some learning out of the clouds.


Don't we remember that Coca Cola ad? The one in the Eat Cricket Sleep Cricket series... in which an animated cricket fan delivers a monologue, "Kumble aur Srinath bhi match nikaal sakta hain, bhau. Yehich to hamara strategy hain... kaun bowler, kaun batsman last moment tak pata nahin chalta!"
This is what Indian cricket is all about. It is not about military discipline. It is not about complicated game plans.

It is about Srinath and Kumble lighting up Bangalore after top 8 batsmen packed up halfway.
It is about Kapil Dev scoring 175 coming in at 17/5.
It is about Sachin Tendulkar scoring back to back centuries to win a tournament against Australia.
It is about Chetan Sharma scoring a century.
It is about Sehwag winning a match with his bowling.
It is a team successfully defending 125 runs against Pakistan in Sharjah.
It is about two kids taking us to victory, after making the world's longest chase.

It is also about a team not making 120 runs to win a test.
It is about a team crumbling for 17 runs after Sachin Tendulkar departs.
It is about a team letting a batsman hit a 6 off the last ball of an one-dayer.
It is about a team which has 4 players in top 10 one-day batsmen of the world but has never been the top ranked one-day team.
It is a team which goes from breathtaking victory to mind-numbing defeat in a span of hours, nor days! And the other way round at the same speed.

We are a nation of cricket-crazy freaks, not for any other reason but that the game reinforces our belief in gods. We have never won because we trained harder or we strategised better than the others.
It is simply statistical... we are the populous nation in the world and hence we have produced more geniuses than anybody else. Starting from Farrokh Engineer to Pataudi Junior to B S Chandrasekhar to Krishnamachari Srikkanth to Mahendra Singh Dhoni - we have had more swashbucklers than the rest of the world put together... and these guys have taken us to adrenaline-laden victories.
Just as they had collapsed to give us suicide-inducing defeats.

To lead these mercurial mavericks, we don't need a solid, diligent first-bencher. We need an equally temperamental, psycho who will make the Aussies cringe at his name.
We never loved Dravid more than when he hit Allan Donald for a six over his head.
And then, he listened quietly to the abuses hurled by the bowler. We need a guy who would shout back, complain to the umpire and show enough dissent to be fined his next 6 match's fees. Who the f*** cares about the money anyways?

No offence meant to Dravid but the Indian captain should have a voice which is stronger than the coach's. The Indian team was always led by Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Azharuddin, Sachin, Sourav and the like. For better or for worse. Only now, it is being called Team Chappell.
Who is making them do army drills, shuffling the batting order, losing just as often as earlier and then calling it a grand plan for the World Cup.

I am not angry because India has lost today. I know we can still win the Champion's Trophy!
I am angry because it is being touted that we lost on purpose. To lull Australia into complacency. And then, defeating them at the World Cup.
What rubbish?

I think we should get a coach who gets the basics about fielding, running between the wickets and catching right.
We get a captain who makes Ricky Ponting wait for him at the toss.
And we get the world's most dependable batsman to do exactly that - dependable batting.

Where will we get these guys?
The coach is in New Zealand, living off the royalties of his autobiography. We go and tell him its time for a sequel.
The captain was cheering Sania Mirza on at the Sunfeast Open.
And the dependable batsman is doing the captain's job.

So, we open in West Indies with a line-up which can either bring us the Cup. Or come back after the round-robin matches.
Either way, people will die of heart-attacks, some bookies will earn millions, others will lose their pants, Pepsi & Coke will live beyond pesticides... and the whole bloody world will wonder India mein batsman kaun hain aur bowler kaun?
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