Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Indian Cricket: Tendulkar's Torture & Chappell's Chicanery

Wherever you look and whatever you read about Indian cricket, April 7 is being billed as D-Day. The day that will decide whether Team India will perish or prosper. The day that will decide whether another foreigner will be appointed coach of India.

From all the scoops and exclusives that the various media houses are entertaining us to, I am able to garner only one thing - that the spin doctors behind every move of the BCCI have performed an outstanding job, once again.

Anybody who has followed Indian cricket, for any length of time will understand that the BCCI does not take action. It does not deign it important enough to address key issues that have a material impact on the performance of its team. In this context, what is all the hoo-ha for? It does not matter whether Greg Chappell names any players in his report. The same goes for Sanjay Jagdale. Both reports are going to be locked away in a filing cabinet and the key fed to the starving tigers in our national parks.

Sachin Tendulkar, of all people, should know exactly how events will play out. He has been there and done that many times. In light of this, his "emotional" outburst against Greg Chappell is all the more perplexing. Why would a man who has maintained the steadfastly silent during many a previous scandal, suddenly develop the burning desire to unleash?

I wonder whether Tendulkar has been coerced into making these statements solely on the back of the unending media speculation (read: mud-slinging) that Indian cricket personalities have recently endured. Chappell has been quoted (in italics because I am not sure that many media outlets know the difference between a direct quote and creative word-smithing) by various outlets as having said that his report is not yet complete, and nobody but himself knows the exact contents of it. Assuming that there is a large element of truth to the comments attributed to Chappell, did Tendulkar call Chappell and ask him to separate fact from fiction? Has there been any communication between the players, especially Tendulkar since he was the first one to have spoken on the record, and the coach after the team's return from the Caribbean?

I like Tendulkar as a player and as a person. He has outwardly maintained his dignity and integrity whence others have found it extremely easy and satisfying to lose theirs. However, this act shows him in a bad light. From the criticisms that he offered during his press conference, it does not seem that there has been any contact between Chappell and Tendulkar.

Forget the fact that other players go the coward route and allow themselves to be quoted, off the record. IMHO, if you have something to say, if you are going to take pot-shots, be man enough to do it in your own name. Tendulkar has been strong enough to speak his mind on the record, and he might have very reasonable grievances against Chappell, but he should have waited to read the official report before making a spectacle of himself.

My views are not a vindication or defence of Chappell's ways. All I know is what you know, that is what has been offered to us by the media. Chappell may indeed have created an atmosphere of distrust and behaved in an insensitive manner with some team members. If he has, then he should not be handed another contract. This, however, is not the issue.

The issue is the farcical state of Indian cricket that allows individuals the opportunity to pursue their own personal agendas to the detriment of the game and the individuals who play it. Starting from the top, the BCCI is infested with simpletons who have prospered due to their ability to undermine others and polticise every single issue.

It does not matter if Tendulkar was tortured with false or undeserved labels. It does not matter if Chappell chicanery "pushed" the team backwards. It does not even matter that Greg may have had a hand in Ian's call for Sachin's retirement. There are places and forums for these issues to be addressed. However, it does matter that public outbursts borne out of personal frustration, and a lack of respect for due process, hurt the chances of Indian cricket achieving the outcomes that are necessary for it to become a superpower on the field.

I expected more from Tendulkar. I hope this is just an aberration that can be put down to the extraordinary and heated prevailing climate. I hope that this is not an indication of Tendulkar's declining mental resolve - something that has been claimed by different media personalities.

Indian cricket needs a mentally and physically fit and strong Sachin Tendulkar. It also needs a clean and efficient process through which to find and evaluate the reasons for its history of magnificent failures. Anybody involved with the process will be doing the cause a massive disservice if they indulge in public mudslinging or trial by a highly irresponsible media.

Grow up kids.

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