Don't hurl accusations at Sachin, Kapil

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Friday, February 18, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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The getting together of the Ranji players from Mumbai who had been part of the teams that won the National Championship 33 times since it started was a nostalgic affair. That the idea occurred not to a Mumbai player but an admirer of Mumbai cricket also speaks volumes.

The Mumbai Cricket Association officials turned up but they should be asking themselves why they did not think of doing such a thing themselves. But of course when the mind is concentrated on trying to get someone else down, then such noble ideas do not always come through in a brain which is used to politicking and maneuvering and trying to stay in power.

The evening itself was a chance to catch up with old cricketing colleagues and seniors and also to see the new lot that is playing for Mumbai. It would have been better if the invitations had been restricted, for it would have then been possible to meet with every player, but with far too many people who had little to do with cricket being around, it was difficult to move around and meet everybody.

The organisers had to deal with some gate-crashers and some who strategically phoned up and asked questions in a way which meant the organisers had to invite them. Talking to a cross-section of the players, past and present, the feeling was that it would have been a better evening if only the players had been invited.

Certainly the current players seemed to be a bit tight-lipped with the media around, while the former players were happy to offer their pearls of wisdom to the media. So what could have been a truly great and memorable evening fizzled out to be just another cricketing evening. A great opportunity to have an interaction with the past and present of Mumbai's cricket and to exchange views that would have helped Mumbai cricket was lost and who knows when such an occasion may come again.

After last year's debacle when they did not even qualify for the Ranji super league, this season the Mumbai team's progress has been champion-like and it proves that a coach does take some time to get his views and methods across to the players.

After last year's performances, there were plenty of people who questioned the wisdom of appointing Ashok Mankad as Mumbai's coach, but this year, under the same coach, Mumbai has played top cricket not only in the four-day matches, but also in the one-day format.

Unfortunately, in India, we expect instant results from our captains, coaches and selectors, not realising that everything in India does take time. Patience has not been a strength with Indian cricket, especially since the exposure to one-day cricket; and that tells in the way we play Test cricket.

At the national level, fingers are being pointed at two of our greatest cricketers, accusing them of indulging in a personal vendetta against certain players, but has anyone heard of the saying once bitten, twice shy?' Maybe both have had experiences which they do not wish to be repeated.

And which captain and coach would be foolish enough to put their own jobs on the line for setting personal scores, for quite simply, if inferior players are selected, then the team's performance is going to suffer and when that happens, their own tenure will be limited.

India's dismal performance in Australia has led to this accusation, but what has India's performance been overseas under any captain or coach in the last decade? Why were such accusations not made after those tours? If the coach and the captain want to look ahead, then we must be patient with them and have faith in them instead of accusing them the way they have been accused. And after the accusations, do we expect other former cricketers to come forward and do the coaching or the selectors' jobs?

Tell me, why would anybody in his right senses want to do a job which is guaranteed to get him brickbats and nothing else. There is absolutely no middle road in Indian cricket. It is either love or hate and there is no sound reasoning for this.

Look at G R Viswanath. During his playing days, there was not one player in his own team or in the opposition who had a harsh word to say about him. He was and is universally loved in the world of cricket, but when he was the Chairman of the Selection Committee and thus had to brief the media, he found that a motivated mediaperson with his own agenda would cast aspersions on his character and cricketing knowledge and get away with it.

Again, unfortunately, every single person who accuses another of being parochial is himself so, for otherwise why would such a thought even enter his/her mind? But again it is always the other person who is the wrong-doer while the person making the allegations is pure as snow.

By all means, I suggest that Tendulkar will be better off to Indian cricket without the burden of captaincy, but do not accuse the little champion or for that matter Kapil Dev of settling personal scores, for that very accusation can be easily turned around to show that those being portrayed as the aggrieved party were themselves no saints not so long ago. And the tactic could be the use of innuendoes -- as is being done to two of India's greatest cricketers.

The South African series is not going to be easy and it would be fair to let Sachin and Kapil carry on without adding the pressure of accusing them of something without a shred of evidence.

Sri Lanka have shown the way by going ahead without two superb cricketers, Ranatunga and De Silva, and they are making good progress and looking solid for the future with a number of talented youngsters coming on and taking the responsibility under a new skipper.

Quite clearly, the way to go is forward, but in India we are experts in going round and round and round! Pity!

Professional Management Group

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