The last few days have been quite incredible. Reliable sources, anonymous sources close to one party, sources close to other parties and all kinds of sources have made it a resourceful week. The biryani is there but without the rice and only the masala. The rogan josh is there with just the josh and not the rogan.
Allegations have flown back and forth and speculation has been rife and fuel added to the fire with nary a thought about Indian cricket. In spite of having lost in the first round and the so-called ‘disgust’ of the general public towards cricket and cricketers, the front pages are still having cricket-related stories, even on the morning after the SAARC Heads of State meeting began the previous day!
India were beaten by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the group stage and did not qualify for the Super 8s. Instead of giving credit to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who played better cricket on the day, we in India are bent upon finding excuses to justify these losses. No credit whatsoever to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for playing better, but just any excuse to help us feel better as to why we lost to teams we shouldn’t have.
As this is being written, comes the news of Greg Chappell’s instruction to the BCCI that he is not seeking an extension of his contract as a coach of the Indian team.
India may have lost in the World Cup, but the biggest loss is the retirement of Anil Kumble from the limited-overs game. He played in only one World Cup game and so did not get the chance to go out on a high, but there is no question that ‘Jumbo’ made an incredible contribution to the Indian team in Tests as well as limited-overs cricket. Thankfully, he is still available for the Tests and India has some big series coming up this year, where Kumble’s skills with the ball will be an essential factor in the chances the Indian team hopes will be theirs.
What Kumble brought to the team apart from his incredible bowling skills, was a fierce desire to succeed. He was certainly more hostile in his attitude towards the opposition batsmen than the quicker bowlers. Certainly, he was more at the batsman than Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad, who being new-ball bowlers should have been naturally aggressive, but often were not. In Kumble’s company, Harbhajan Singh flowered and learnt some of the ‘aggro’ that modern bowlers prefer. They made a terrific duo, and when they were bowling together, the opposition batsmen had a real tough time, especially if there was some turn and bounce in the pitch.
With India having an inconsistent batting line-up, especially overseas, the Indians seldom played both the spinners. But on Indian pitches, both were automatic choices, and they would come on to bowl even before the ball had reached the ‘teen-age’ stage in terms of overs.
Hopefully, before Kumble decides to hang his boots in Test cricket, he will have passed on his fierce desire to win to the younger players.