Monday, July 02, 2007

The Revival

I am usually sceptical of 'turning of corners', more so when it happens to me, or Indian cricket teams. In my observation of sports, there have been very few seminal, life-changing single incidents (like say, Sachin opening for the first time against New Zealand). Yuvraj Singh laid the foundation for his finisher-credentials with his famous Natwest innings, but is still considered an under-achiever for his phenomenal talent (as his two match-winning innings against the Proteas displayed, the argument is not totally devoid of merit, with him getting regularly beaten on absolutely harmless angled deliveries).

The Indian cricket team had touched an absolute nadir with the World Cup, and as I had pointed out then, there were no easy solutions around. Greg Chappell had flirted with youth, and they had failed to deliver. So it made no sense to blame the proven oldies. Capping player endorsements was to pacify the masses, dropping (rather than resting) Sachin could have been the bombshell.

Yet, for all my caution, I somehow think the Future Cup victory (India's first genuine overseas one in almost four years) augurs very well for the crazy schedule ahead. Because of personal and principle reasons, I did not witness the series in full, only snatches here and there (because another needless ODI series only to cater to my television eyeballs should never have taken place). But I could sense the victory was carved out by the virtue of technique and temperament, in tough, challenging conditions.

Ajit Agarkar's dismissal of Jacques Kallis, one of the most technically proficient batsman in the world, just showed how bloody frustrating the Bombay speedster's career has been. He has never been fully dropped, or confirmed in the team, only because amongst all his looseners, he is capable of producing such perfect deliveries (if you read the coaching manuals, a perfect outswinger angles in, and then moves out late in the air, the type Ajit dished out).

Even more heartening was Sachin Tendulkar. I have come round to the fact that he will probably never leave Ponting's or Lara's Test legacy behind, all his records not withstanding. However, one never wants to witness him as a struggler. His 'Man of Series' award-winning Test centuries against Bangladesh were rather painstaking, but am not sure the same can be said about his 99. He has never batted so long for so less, but the fact that he battled difficult conditions and loss of partners puts this in perspective. More importantly, his selfless, suicidal second run at 98 wiped out my disappointment at his feelings when he was left stranded by Dravid on 194 against Pakistan. However, it was the second ODI which was vintage Sachin. He, along with all Indian batsmen except Dravid (and to a much lesser extent Laxman) had shown a distinct aversion towards any unconventional wicket. The fact that he chose to counter-attack on a difficult pitch was exciting enough. It still might be a false signal, but the way he protested the disallowing of the De Villiers catch (a galling error by my favourite umpire, Aleem Dar) reflected maybe the joy is coming back.

I believe in discipline, but even more so in inspiration. Our domestic structure is ill-suited to produce competitive international cricketers, the fact that we still get world-beaters is amazing enough. Similarly, Greg Chappell (and even the late Bob Woolmer) might be innovative thinkers, but possibly it is the more old-fashioned Dave Whatmore, John Wright and maybe Chandu Borde who inspire the oriental lion-hearts. The Future Cup victory might count for nothing, but now, I look forward to the nPower Test series with less despondency.


svety said...

welcome back to cricket baby

Sfx said...

nice post ....