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Should we believe in Indian cricket again?

by Gaurav Sethi

For Test match eve I felt nothing. In the morning, still nothing. Like Ganguly I didn’t make it for the toss, but I was on target for the first ball.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve tossed the team composition in my mind.  I’d have been quite happy if we had a new playing eleven. This team meant nothing to me, they were not a team – they were the front of a Player Management Firm.

Yeah, I was jaded bad, almost as if the reality of pro-sport was eating me up. I tossed the team in my mind some more – I would have retained Che Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ashwin, Ojha. Maybe Yadav, I still wasn’t decided on him.

I was at a place where I didn’t want to see some of these guys bat or bowl or keep or field. I wanted to see Rahane, Mukund, Manoj, Saha, Dinda, someone who didn’t have the backing of our big boys.

Imagine if the selectors had the balls to toss the team on its head – instead the Indian team continues to play because it’s a highlights’ package. So when the day’s play doesn’t deliver, they dig through the archives.

Yet I watched today. When the wickets fell, I felt nothing. Though when Che Pujara mistimed one past mid-on’s reach, I swivelled out of my chair. When Trott claimed Kohli, I was on edge throughout that replay. I was relieved enough to not even abuse Trott on twitter.

I watched Sehwag and Gambhir (and even Raina). Instead all I heard was talk, talk, talk. Player management firm talk. Opening Partnership of 53, Have you seen my catch, Built for Test cricket.

When did our openers become so needy? It wasn’t the runs they did not score, but who was advising these guys? 2 years’ back they were on form the best bets to replace Dhoni. Now they will be content to be just not replaced.

Forget them, have you heard the stuff Sachin’s spoken over the last few months – from not thinking about retirement, top of his game, to it’s natural to be thinking about retirement.

Why do I always feel that everything they say is determined by their form.  And then you have the captain who doesn’t miss a beat to undermine his players.

It has been obvious for a while that Indian cricketers are now playing a game through the media.

Just the other day there was a piece about Sehwag’s retirement from T20 internationals – Sehwag’s twitter account denied it the next day.

In spite of all this, I had one of my better day’s watching cricket. Even more than the runs, I love catches being dropped. England was messy, “donkeys” was buzzing in my ears.

Sehwag defended. There are few more articulate cricketing moments than Sehwag tilting his bat ever so slightly in a faux straight defence. There is the probability of a single, there is the hint of a mind. There is the soundtrack – “keh ke loonga”.  There is helplessness, when you can’t help but forgive Sehwag his trespasses.

And then Rajiv tweeted – “Did you seen my six?”

That’s what Viru is – he makes you call him Viru, Sehwag, Jatman – and hordes more. To truly love your sports’ hero, you gotta be able to get real pissed with him. But why so long? Can a 50 plus average accommodate a 2-year slump?

And then there was Che Pujara, Test cricketing encyclopaedia. Volumes on how to leave the ball and the straight defence. But before that, almost always, early in his innings, bat, swordlike coming down on one around middle, even off sometimes, playing it through midwicket. It’s a shot that makes me nervous. But it also signals his intention to breathe, like his pull – you can’t always play straight, what’s the fun? But still I think, why so early in the piece?

Down the wicket, jigging in the crease, back, front, sideways – it’s as if Che’s cricketing engine is being oiled as he plays. And just when you think it’s stumps, one purrs through the covers. And another.

From 90 to 98 in the 90th over. Stumps, Day 1. And I’m a believer for today. 


live score said...

Yes you're right the Indian players re too much involved in the media games than in their actual fielding practices and their real field work.All of them play more attention to media which I think is wrong.They all want to play mind games.

Anonymous said...

Suresh Raina has performed better than any other youngster under extremely tough and pressure situations which a Pujara has never faced since almost every international match he has played has been on the flat tracks in India. So praising Pujara and suggesting that if Pujara scores something on flat tracks he is "built" for test cricket and if someone else does it he is a flat track bully is undoubtedly stupid ! Now,innings like Raina's 86 against Australia in a pacer-friendly Mohali and the 78 against England at the Oval when every other batsmen failed are far far better than Pujara's whole career of flat track scores !