Pain, not anger...
I write this in deep, deep pain – not anger...
Tendulkar has just been bowled by Bracewell – not bowled, but cleaned-up – totally – if anyone from a club side had played a shot like that in the nets, he would have been asked to step-down and Tendulkar plays it in a Test.
I am not angry. I am in deep pain.
Pain of having watched Tendulkar play one of the most pathetic Test innings of his amazing, amazing career.
Four runs from 41 balls at lunch – beaten at least four times – scratchy, tentative – even Gavaskar admitted he was tentative.
The bat refusing to come down straight – always curving towards the leg, which is why he is beaten so often now by balls that move in - -and then bowled – cleaned-up – by a ball that moved in.
I am not angry – I am in pain.
Sachin is far, far too great a batsman to be reduced to this.
The question is ‘why’? Not even ‘how’? We know how – Sachin has raised a competitive bat since the IPL nonsense, and in that, too, he was injured and out of sorts.
And then he expects to play a Test? After three months of holidaying?
I am not angry. I am in pain.
We take New Zealand for granted – we smile in a condescending manner and agree to play two Tests – as a favour—big brother being nice. Sachin feels that a week of practice will get him ready.
Sachin, we are not angry; we are in pain – you must play every chance you get – every match. That is the only way you can thrive. If you are really serious about playing on for India – the greatest honour any cricketer can dream of – then play cricket – one-day, Ranji – cricket. Play – no ads, no politics, no hairstyles. Play cricket – for the next two years of your life – do nothing else – and you will leave this great game that you have graced has no other ever has, with style and dignity – and runs.
I say this not in anger, but in pain. I cannot – we cannot – watch you play another Test innings like this one.
And on the other side, I – we – have seen the future of cricket – Afghanistan, and Unmukt Chand – the Afghanis against the Aussies – who would have think it – A versus A – and how the Afghanis had the Aussies huffing and puffing and sweating and swearing. It was not a friendly tie at all; it was battle – and the Aussies knew it – wonderful – cricket at its best.
And Chand – class, temperament, style – and, most important, on the off-side he plays with a straight bat, left-elbow high – he does not flip at the ball, as does Kohli and almost every modern batsman – his right wrist does not turn over the bat, it supports the top hand to keep the bat straight, so that the lines of bat and ball as the meet are in the same trajectory for a much, much longer time – the flip is quick, and decisive, and looks good – but it is fraught with risk, and if the timing is not just right, you are caught outside the off-stump – or, if the ball moves, you play-on or are lbw.
Chand is the future – Afghanistan is the future. They play cricket as it should be played – with passion and love for the game and grit and grace –
And I am very, very sorry to say this – but at the end of 2009, when we played Sri Lanka at the Brabourne and Sehwag played a 293 of such power and panache and he and Gambhir were the best opening pair in the world, Gambhir skipped the Test to attend his sister’s wedding – now, I know sister’s weddings are sacred, and Gambhir was fulfilling a family duty of deep meaning, but – but – but – just see his record since he skipped that Test – it is there on the TV screen for all to see.
Test cricket is a test – and to pass the Test, you have to be at your very, very best.
And, finally, as we are 168 for four on the second day of the second and final Test – please, please – ICC, BCCI – any Test series involving a top team – and we just barely quality now as one – must be of at least three Tests – please, please, please.
And – I am sorry – but the truth is the truth – the two companies that have poured the most money into cricket in the past five years – Sahara and Kingfisher – are both companies in deep, deep trouble – nothing further to be said.
I – we – appeal to TATA – sponsor cricket with style and dignity – and let the players play for India with only India on their jerseys – that would be true sponsorship – not advertising, but sponsorship.
And may Sachin come out in the second innings fired up and determined and win our hearts again...