Are the youngsters getting carried away?

Written by: Suresh Parekh
Published: Friday, December 22, 2000, 19:20 [IST]
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Life is a relentless teacher. While this may sound philosophical it is cent percent true especially when it comes to a few Indian cricketers. Cricket is the most glamourous sport in the Indian sports scene.

Despite the fact that the match-fixing drama revealed some of the most respected names in the game, the general interest of the cricket loving public hasn't been decried at all. If this was not the case then the One-day International series between India and Zimbabwe would not have attracted close to a capacity crowd at all the five One-day centres.

But herein lies the problem, the bottom line is that a few Indians have became overnight heroes. And their rise to the stardom is more or less to do with the media hype that our pen-men have given. But the question is, are they really the genius, the classics, the greats! One wonders.

The point is, we are so habit bound to praise the rising sun that we forget to weigh whether they really deserves all the encomium and credit they receive or rather that are bestowed on them. It is a tricky situation. Who can forget the rise and fall of Vijay Bhardwaj? This cricketer from Karnataka had tremendous potential and so he showed it too in Nairobi when he played in 1999. He bowled well and batted confidently to give rise to the hope that he is a class player and the one who can serve the country for long. Every magazine and newspaper wrote a profile on him.

But today nobody knows where Vijay Bhardwaj is. He is not even getting a chance to play in the three day matches against the tourists. The only reason that one can come up with for his fall is that he was over praised, which eventually got him carried away especially by the glamourous publicity he received from the print and the electronic media. This probably made him an arrogant person and his behaviour too turned unacceptable and there also were some complaints from the other players.

Even this writer had one bad experience with him. During the Ahemdabad Test between New Zealand and India last year, this writer approached Andrew Liepus for an interview and Vijay was standing with him. Instead of Leipus it was Vijay who replied that you can't take his interview, you have to take the coach's permission and all that. I had to tell him that it is none of his business to reply on behalf of Leipus. Will he say the same thing if Sachin is standing with him?

Now we have Yuvraj Singh, the man who broke all cloud with a real gem of an innings in Nairobi. He was the Man-of-the-Match and such was his performance that no one would grudge him for being praised by some of the best names in the game.

He was contracted by the soft drink giant and got advertising contract with Reebok and what not. All before he could play even his first Test. But see the reality. Since then much has changed.

After playing that extraordinary innings against Australia, Yuvraj had played only one convincing innings of 34 runs in Sharjah. The rest of the innings only shows that he is a careless wonder of the Indian cricket. He had all the chance to play a real big knock at Rajkot when he had plenty of overs to play. And that too on the kind of wicket which was described by Saurav as the best wicket in India to bat on, but he missed the chance.

This is what happens when people like Bhardwaj and Yuvraj are focused on other things. Media hype is good but it is not the yardstick to judge someone's real talent.

There is also a lesson for the Board. Even the Board knows that these two cricketers are talented but they have got something, which made them to behave as if they have played more than 50 Tests. If India wants to save cricketers like these two from burning early they should make it a condition that no new players would sign any contract at least for the first three years so that they can fully and totally commit themselves to the game only. Will the BCCI listen?

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