By Tejaswini Tirta
It’s little after 3.00 pm on Wednesday and I’m at my work station…yawning away! It’s got nothing to do with the weather or my routine. It’s because I stayed up to watch the second England-India One-Day International. One might think I’m quite foolish considering India’s pathetic run in the series so far. But my faith in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys never diminishes - no matter what!
On Tuesday evening too I was quite confident we’ll post our first win at the Rose Bowl. When Parthiv Patel started to fire, followed by Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid and Suresh Raina, my sureness increased. Unfortunately, just as our batsmen went about justifying their selection and rediscovering their form, our bowlers lost their line, length, spin, swing, et al, making one howler after another. While we didn’t miss Sachin Tendulkar or Virender Sehwag, but we definitely missed Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
The more Dhoni chants Murphy’s Law the more I see his point of view - from where he stands, the view must be worse. What could he possibly tell a replacement bowler like Vinay Kumar who is getting “cooked” and “belled”, and desperately looking around for help from a Ravichandran Ashwin or Praveen Kumar, who is also getting cooked and belled.
It is a dire situation, no doubt. Having said that, I also know it won’t be long before Team India gets back to its winning ways. The best 11 will be back and with a vengeance. However, it’s time the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) took the cue and realised that players are, after all, humans and that the World Cup champions have looked visibly tired in recent times. The injuries are just a minor indication of a much bigger issue – our cricketers need a wholesome break. Not because they have a stomach infection, headache or because their kids have summer vacations, but simply because they deserve one. If viewers can take a break from watching cricket, it’s only fair players get a break from playing the game.
It’s also time the players and BCCI stop functioning as two disconnected units. They have been getting away with little communication between each other until this series and the entire lot has to sit together while making crucial decisions. Be it the year’s schedule, managing players’ injuries or selecting a team for an upcoming tour, it has to be collective decision. We’re not talking about coordinating with thousands of individuals and asking their opinions. There’s one captain, one coach, key members of the support staff and the team of selectors. It’s not a difficult or bad practice, really!
Amidst all the cricket news and quotable quotes, Ajay Maken said one thing that caught my attention: “Cricket must be seen as just another sport”. If anything, coming under the Sports Bill might just make people look at cricket as any other sport. Fans may go back to considering their cricket idols as human beings, who can injure themselves while on the field and can face burnouts. BCCI will be forced to look beyond politics, media, money and 24x7 criticisms, which lead to hasty decisions. Let’s face it, no other “sport” gets huge chunks of all the above, all the time.
I can almost see future scenarios which will invite more condemnations: Gautam Gambhir may play the Champions League. God forbid, if he plays well, he’ll be brutally criticised and termed unpatriotic. Dhoni has the burden of defending the CLT20 title for the Chennai Super Kings. What if he succeeds? Will he be forgiven?
I want to go back to the good-ol’ sporting days when, having lost a cricket match, we turned around in true Chulbul ‘Dabanng’ Pandey style and said: “There eej aalways next time!”
(Bangalore-based Tejaswini Tirtha spent the first eight years of her career in mainstream media, having worked with leading dailies like Times of India, The New Indian Express and Asian Age, tracking new trends in the film, fashion, theater and gaming industries. A couple of years ago, she was bitten by the corporate bug, but tried to keep the journalist in her alive by grabbing every writing opportunity that came her way. Her other interests include reading, music, watching movies, traveling, F1 racing and of course, cricket)