Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The beginning of the end

So, it has begun. The first of the modern day greats of Indian cricket has begun the exit march. Saurav Ganguly’s saga has never been a predictable one and the end only validates the theme. I think he made the smart move. He was always going to be the one that would be the first to go because he is the least indispensible of the lot. I wasn’t surprised when he was not picked for the Irani trophy match. Saddened, but not surprised. But when he was ultimately selected for the series, he did the smart thing by latching onto a chance for a graceful exit. Chances are the clamor for young India would have only increased as the series would have wound to a close.

In some sense, this is an exit forced by the new India that disheartens me. We have become a country of snap judgments, of sensational headlines, an impatient nature and opinions expressed in SMS polls. Public memory has never been shorter. The coverage on the 24 hour news channels is depressingly dramatic and aggressive. Yes, we lost the series in Sri Lanka, and yes, every player has his shelf life, but it seems to me like every failure is amplified to gargantuan proportions nowadays. We lost to Sri Lanka due to a collective batting failure but what gives that can’t possibly be enough to sack an entire middle order. Earlier that year, we gave Australia a run for their money and while not in prime form against South Africa, we didn’t lose the series. In the middle of all this was a series of inconsequential one day games which for the most part, no one can remember. What has changed dramatically? Perhaps it’s the romantic in me that wants to see proper respect given to the people of the caliber of Sachin and Dravid and I feel that the nation today is incapable of providing it. Dhoni’s ‘Youngistan’ may go on to do well in the future but I can’t see them being the same role models of professionalism and perseverance as the current middle order. Dhoni’s decision to skip the test series in Sri Lanka has dropped him a notch in the way I perceive him. Test cricket is sacrosanct to me, and preferring to play in T20 over that shows where his priorities lay.

I am rooting for the oldies of the team. I am rooting for these champions to do well because that will at least shut up the doubters for a while. India start this series as the favorites, but the media is already pulling them down by putting this extra pressure on the seniors. Ricky Ponting is a shrewd guy and has already read the situation perfectly. He said in his interview that with a single failure, the media in India will only add to the pressure on the seniors and that will play right into the hands of the Australians. With a new look side that doesn’t have the same class as the previous visiting Australians, Ponting will be hoping for the Indian media and public to help him with the job.

Objectively speaking, I expect India to win the series 2-1 or 2-0. I am most worried about Bangalore because of our track record here and the fact that Australian fast bowlers will do reasonably well. I hope that we press the home advantage and prepare spinning tracks. No shame in that. I don’t expect Ponting to fall to Harbhajan like he has in the past so we better be prepared for the likes of him and Clarke scoring well.

I’ll be eagerly looking forward to catching this test series the best I can (it will start late night for me, so one session at best before I need to sleep). Moreover, I’ll be waiting to catch some gorgeous off drives from the Prince of Calcutta, the most successful captain India has ever had. After this series, on the off side, only one God will prevail.


frissko said... in agreement with your take on the 'new' india. If we do the math, Ganguly should be in the team without any questions asked!..Am partly happy that Ganguly is walking out rather than fading away though...(we owe this farewell to the new selection committee i guess)...It'll be interesting to see how Dhoni handles post 35 cricket (in my head he may not wait to go past his prime, but let's see)...

Very well written, btw...

Parth said...

@Frissko: Thanks. I don't think the shelf life of cricketers nowadays will extend up to 35 given the volume of cricket. The only thing that works in favor of the newer cricketers is their fitness and fielding abilities. I agree with your comment on Ganguly walking on his terms. As I had predicted, Ponting scored. It really gets me worked up because I can't see how he won't get past Tendulkar's record at this rate. Only three centuries behind him now and a small matter of 2000 runs. Tendulkar might add 3-4 centuries at his current rate and perhaps a thousand runs more. Ponting might get past him in three years time on both centuries and runs :-(