By Vincent Sunder
With just under less than two weeks for the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL), I decided to meet up with a key administrator of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to check out the team’s preparations.
I told myself repeatedly not to speak of the World Cup, not even the Indo-Pak game. Given the huge stakes, it would be natural for team owners and key administrators to be focused entirely on the IPL preparations. Right?
As I was shown into his chamber, the RCB heavyweight looked up, “Oh, it is you! I didn’t know it was you waiting for the last three hours. Actually I had far more important things to clear and you could have waited for another ….”
I squirmed like unprotected batsmen facing Dale Steyn and mumbled, “Just a few thoughts, Sir, on how things are on the IPL preparations for RCB! That is all, Sir… Just a few thoughts from you, Sir.”
In my state of nervousness, I was now rambling more than mumbling.
“Oh, it has been a mixed bag! We are not at all happy that South Africa lost to New Zealand the other day! They should have played Morne Van Wyk!”
“But what has RCB and IPL to do with the South Africa-New Zealand quarter-final game? Errr….”
“I also wish the Aussies had gone on for a 3rd consecutive World Cup win,” he thundered!
“But, Sir…India winning World Cup for Sachin?”
“Are you a RCB supporter? An RCB fan?”
“Yes, Sir! Of course, I’m a RCB fan!”
“Then how can you be happy with New Zealand winning and Australia losing?”
“But, Sir, that’s in the World Cup”
“How naïve can you be? Tell me, who should play at Mohali for India? Zaheer Khan or Sreesanth?
“Of course, Zaheer Khan, Sir! He has been brilliant, Sir. He is our best bowler, Sir! He is fantastic! Sreesanth is so useless.”
“And you still want Zaheer, our best bowler to play and not Sreesanth?”
“Don’t you read the game properly? With South Africa losing, de Villiers would get some deserved rest. But Daniel Vettori, coming off an injury, is still playing. If you asked me, I wished New Zealand had lost and Vettori got some more rest. Thank goodness we didn’t retain Roscoe! I’m concerned about Zaheer as well. Normally his shoulder or hamstring acts up after seven or eight consecutive games. Why don’t you write that he should be rested at Mohali?”
“But, Sir, it’s very big game for India and that too against Pakistan. And Zaheer is our only wicket-taking bowler!”
“Look, are you stupid? You came here to talk about RCB preparations, right? And now you worry about an India-Pakistan game! You just don’t simply understand the business part of the game that is so essential! Look at that, Dilshan! What is he doing exerting himself the way he is in taxing weather conditions in Colombo? You think he is paid the big bucks to be on the field for the entire game in a World Cup match? The entire game? Why doesn’t he make Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardene also bat and sweat in those conditions? Our first game is against Kochi! Do you still think Zaheer should play in place of Sreesanth? ”
“Sir, but Pakistan, semi-final and World Cup …..”
“Oh God! Vettori, Zaheer, Dilshan are key RCB players and you want them to continue playing? Are you mad! GET OUT!!!”
(Vincent Sunder aspired to play Test cricket, but had to struggle to play ‘gully’ cricket! He managed a league side to title triumph in the KSCA tournaments. He was debarred from umpiring in the gully games after he once appealed vociferously for a caught-behind decision when officiating as an umpire! After two decades in the corporate sector, he became an entrepreneur with the objective of being able to see cricket matches on working days as well. Vincent gets his ‘high’ from cricket books and cricket videos and discussing cricket)
Illustration by Prakash Dhole