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Mea Culpa

by Homer

I am sorry. Its hard to admit I am, even harder to say it out loud, but I am sorry.
I am sorry for the outrage, the apathy, and the complete disconnect between me and my team when the going got rough. And I am sorry for being utterly clueless on a number of matters. Let me explain:- 

I had some doubt when Krish Srikkanth ascended the post of Chairman of Selectors. And the doubt stemmed from not knowing which Srikkanth would don the mantle of CoS - the man who lead India so inspiringly in Pakistan, with the backdrop of the conflict between players and the Board over player payments, or the man who, on television, slated the Indian captain by saying he should play as the 14th man.

But I let that pass, as we beat Australia at home.And from there on in, it was a smooth ride. Not once did I question the logic of having a wicketkeeper captain the squad in all three formats of the game, nor did I question team selections, even when numbers 12 thru 15 were a lottery, with no consistency or continuity. So much so that the "A" team selection was all over the place. But since we were winning, why did that matter?
And where do I begin with the succession planning? 

Kumble retired midway through the Australia test series, and the mantle passed onto MS Dhoni. Virender Sehwag captained in his absence in New Zealand and Australia.And Bangladesh. Gautam Gambhir was the stand in captain for the home series against New Zealand. And in between, and after that, various different players assumed the role of vice captain, Virat Kohli being the latest.There was no tone or tenor to the succession planning, with a TINA situation being created, but what did I care? We were winning, and thats all that mattered.

I did outrage, on occasion, Like before the 2009 Champions Trophy, when an injured Sehwag was taken to England. Or when RP Singh was picked for the third test in England. Or when Jaydev Unadkat was picked for the first test in South Africa.

However, it was not my job to point out that Unadkat pretty much dropped off the radar soon after, with him not featuring in the current list of contracted players, despite playing for India A on their tour to New Zealand. Nor did it matter to me that when RP Singh was picked up for the England tour, he had not played active cricket for nearly 3 months, was not with the India squad for nearly 2.5 years and was not in the list of the 37 contracted players at that time!

I was content at pointing at the Indian bowlers and laughing - for their lack of match fitness, the inability of the attack, twisted and changed with no  core bowling group, and no defined substitutes, to take 20 wickets, for being a "popgun attack".

That is someone elses job, some other's responsibility.

And with regards to injuries, lets not even get started. It was all that evil IPL, you hear. Never mind that we never gave the stand ins an extended run, with Mukund making way for Sehwag who was coming in after an injury, with no match fitness to speak of. Or Vijay coming in to play cameos before being forgotten.And different players warming the bench, missing out on game time, losing form, only to be then summoned to wear the India cap.

Much was made of the problems with fitness and injuries in England. Much more was made of the role of the NCA in the whole process. Much was promised with regards to maintaining injury management systems. I bought it all. Not once did I enquire, however politely, as to what happened of those systems, and what was the nature and scope of these systems. A year and a bit later, 8 of the 37 centrally contracted players are injured. Do I care? (In my defense, I did not much care for when Manoj Tiwary injured himself , twice, or when Rohit Sharma did himself an injury, or when Che Pujara did much the same. They all missed the bus on wearing the India cap, and if that did not rouse me out of my slumber, bit much to expect me to react to these other issues).

Take the much vaunted transition. This should have been the time when we had our replacements ready, given them an extended run at home, and prepared them for the away series.But I cannot let go of Dravid. Or Laxman. Or Sachin. Each reverse makes me want to go back to the tried and trusted. And yes, I judge the current crop against the runs and numbers and  how they stack up. Never mind how irrational the comparisons, I judge, for thats my prerogative.

Or take the slip cordon.Time was when I was comforted by the knowledge that the slip cordon was set in stone. Rahul at first, VVS at second and, should the need arise, Sehwag at third.Much has changed since then. Now the slip cordon is a game of musical chairs, with the last man standing manning the first slip. Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Yusuf Pathan, VVS Laxman, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara have all been our first slips in the various formats of the game. Is there a method to this madness? Do I care?

I love to parade my ignorance. I will happily call the NCA a hospital, or variations thereof, but once have I bother to ask, or to find out, the structure, the facilities, or the coaching regimens therein. I did read that the BCCI have separate camps for different facets of the game, but I am clueless on the whys and wherefores. I also read that the BCCI held open camps to recruit new talent, especially in the under 16 age pool. I am also dimly aware that the BCCI had something called Zonal academies, but sketchy on the whys and wherefores. I do not know how the feeder system works, nor have I bothered to ask, let alone educate myself. Ignorance is bliss and all that jazz..

And anyways, not my problem , is it?

I mock our wickets as dead and flat. And when others mock them, I join the chorus. And yet, I did not at all bother with the ramifications of disbanding the Pitches Committee after Delhi was pulled up for a poor wicket. Nor did I bother to  find out if corrective measures were put in, and what they meant to the long term health of Indian cricket. Heck, with the new Ranji Trophy groupings, I did not even suggest, let alone demand, that each team have a particular type of wicket, whose nature would not be tampered with, irrespective of how the team performed. And when the new Pitches committee held nationwide camps and tests, I mocked our curators for this , not once bothering to acknowledge that it was a first step in a long journey, and a welcome one.

No Sir, I was outraged that 45% off our curators could not pass the test.

And dont even get me started on our captain's demands. If we accede, how are we going to play overseas, because, somehow, someway dominating at home is not so important anymore. Till we lose, in which case, pitch battles take center stage. 

Ankit Bawne was the captain of the India U-19 team. When a discrepancy cropped up between his birth certificate and passport, I did not hesitate to call him an "age fudger". Whats more, I even cheered on people who damned the kids for "fudging". Not once did I inquire about the mechanisms that were in place to prevent fudging, their veracity and their viability. Heck, I did not even bother to find out if they existed.

And I was not done yet. Between then and now, I have yet to query Abey Kuruvilla or the BCCI about why Ankit Bawne was never again picked for the U-19 squad. Nor did I bother to enquire of the young man about how he was holding up. I damned, and I moved on.

Ditto Rahul Sharma.. He was the next Anil Kumble. Till he was at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Almost immediately, he became an object of ridicule. And ever since, I havent really bothered

You see, I have been busy lamenting about the bowling cupboard being empty, of the dearth of spin bowlers, about how the new kids dont quite cut it. It would be unbecoming of me to focus on how we treat our kids, or how we nurture talent.

That is someone elses job, some other's responsibility.

And while we are on the topic of wickets and grooming, why not focus on my pet peeve, the domestic season? Ranji Trophy, or Drawphy as I call it, is a snoozefest. And the structure of the domestic season is so irrational - what idiot can chalk up a season like this? So we change the structure of the domestic season - pooh, its flawed. We change the groupings within the Ranji Trophy - it is doomed at conception. The point system is tampered with - it is destined to fail. And so many games to play, with little downtime - the players are being treated like animals!

Not in my DNA is the need to give the changes to play themselves out. Nor is it my prerogative to assert that smaller gaps between games force teams to build a bigger roster. And I most certainly will not point out that irrespective of the structure, the points distribution or the groupings, players will game the system and find the path of least resistance. And while we are at it, did I bother to find out if fitness is a mandatory requirement in player contracts or whether teams have to create specific types of wickets and not change their nature, or create a farm system that will create feeders for the respective Ranji teams? You bet I didn't. I have not even bothered to see if the different Ranji teams have leveraged the concept of IPL catchment areas to build their own rosters. For what its worth, I am not even sure if specialist fielders within the national and "A" teams field in those same positions for their domestic teams.

Instead, I blame the system as flawed, and I point and laugh at journeymen cricketers, sitting in the comfort of my air conditioned apartment.

The 8-0 was my responsibility. The 2-1 series loss to England was my responsibility.
I cannot rejoice when we ascend to #1 in the Test rankings, and win the World Cup, but abstain from the responsibility that comes with back to back white washes, or a series defeat at home.

I can demand  all the Inquisitions I want, with all sorts of reports and reviews, but I most definitely cannot shy away from the responsibility that stems from my lack of awareness.

The time has come to introspect. And apologize.

I put up my hand.


A fan


rmblr said...


Host PPH said...

mea culpa is translated like my fault in english and I think it comes from Latin, am I right or it comes from Spanish language?