Ah, only if the British were still ruling us! The Kalinga Sena activist who assaulted Indian cricket coach Greg Chappell on Monday in Bhubaneswar, could have then be put to sterling use. While rumour mills, especially in and around Kolkata, are connecting the attack as the erection of a new-found Oriya-Bengali brotherhood — the assault being a fitting reply to the Aussie coach’s earlier decision to drop Sunday’s hero in Nagpur, Sourav Ganguly, from the national side — the truth is slightly more parochial. The enraged man was reportedly protesting against the non-inclusion of cricketers from Orissa in the national team.
Orissa cricketers in the pavilions like Shiv Sundar Das and Debashish Mohanty may have reasons to raise their unpadded pads, but Biranchi Maharana’s outburst against Chappell is directed at the wrong man. The board of selectors, as the word ‘selectors’ suggest, is the cabal that decides whether to keep Oriya cricketers — in fact, cricketers from any region — in or out of the national side. But Chappell, since he took up his present job, has proved to be an even better punching bag than a coach, considering that like ‘foreigners’ in politics, his professionalism will always be doubted by the usual suspects — unless India goes on a non-stop winning spree.
That, of course, leads us to the situation where sub-nationalists from various Indian states could start assaulting Chappell (or whoever they believe responsible) for keeping ‘their’ cricketers out of the national side. Kashmir, for instance, can theoretically burst into flames if Team India fails to include someone from the Valley, preferably from Doda district. Cricket, at times like these, is hardly about winning games or silly things like that. It becomes an issue of who gets represented in the national side, thereby reflecting India’s wonderfully multi-cultural existence. Come to think of it, can’t we have HRD Minister Arjun Singh as selector, coach, whatever?