I am unlikely to get an answer why did Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid, and later Sourav Ganguly, throw India under the bus in World Test Championships.
You-Too-Brutus is an analogy we thank the Romans for. Courts and courtyards, royal antechambers, poisoned chalice, we all have our own tales of a Coup. As one of a cricketing kind, this is The First.
India just didn’t have a foot in the door of Championship. It had the entire room to itself. Tables chiffoned, clean glasses upturned, Champagnes frothing, only clinking remained. But then these, our own Ushermen, whisked us away to a jungle called Australia. We were asked to kill every lion in sight, overhanging vipers, gaping alligators. Nothing short would let you trace your steps back to the room. Too bad even if you massacred England 4-0 in your own paradise.
Now, when we are told that India was light years ahead of competition, yet were slipped down the pole, to number three, with odds as heavily stacked as David once had against Goliath, you wonder if Kumble as technical head of the ICC, Dravid in robes as players’ counsel, Ganguly as India on ICC table, were weaving their own strands in the Rope which had been fit-to-order-necks of Kohli’s men. The rules had been changed midstream. From a sprint, it was now a gunny sack race.
So this is what happened. Your wins didn’t matter now. The percentage of wins counted. The pandemic had eaten into cricket calendar. Now it’s not MORE but what’s BETTER on decimals. You were about to breast the tape. Now you better go back to the starting line. Thrown in the mix. A version of Lion and Lamb on a dinner invite. All are equal. Your genius as as good as the next man’s retard.
We all have stood at some festooned, chalk-drawn sprint lanes in our schools. We have eyed our parents in the crowd, our moms with their sandwiches and sun-hats, our pops squirming in their seat for the best angle camera could shoot.. Imagine if we were pulled out just before the whistle only because our legs were too long for our age group. We would be shattered; possibly breed a lifelong dislike for system, a discard of our talent which, for all we know, was good enough for a tilt at Olympics.
I know how badly Kumble wanted to be in the Eleven for the 2003 World Cup finals in South Africa. This was his one moment which is dream of any cricketer who has donned national colours. I also know how Sourav Ganguly prayed for that one shot at world title in Nairobi, Kenya in 2000. I am sure Rahul Dravid, the champion that he is, would have loved to lay his hands around the 2011 World Cup which had Sachin Tendulkar cry unabashedly in public view. Or when a Kapil Dev or Peter Sampras shed a bucket of tears. They had put everything on line. The least the Guardians could offer was a fair deal.
We now have the dates of IPL. We know Cheteshwar Pujara has been sold for Rs 50 lakhs. Umesh Yadav for a crore. Both of them are in a different league to Chris Morris. He goes under the hammer for Rs 16.25 crores.
The excusers in us would say, come on, it is a bidders’ game. Everyone wanted Morris. None of his fault if we are funding for his new yacht or jet. None, of course. But what’s the basis? Last IPL? His national career? You could look from any angle: His bat, ball, field or looks. It’s insane.
Kyle Jamieson is the next with the fattest purse. Most of us can’t answer zeroes in his Rs 15 crores in an instant. Or Jhye Richardson. Only a crore less. Both probably would be heard in world cricket for a long time. Check on the figure they extract from their boards in contracts. These two months would be equal to what they would get in 10 years.
If you think I am one of those old whiners type, a typical loser, you have another thought coming.
You know Ricky Ponting. Of course you do. A peerless batsman of his time. He’s the one who sits in the middle of Delhi Capitals’ bench. Often flanked by Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant. You would see him again this time.
This is the guy who ran down Shaw and Pant as one would do to an enemy, that India definitely was in Australia. I am not yet on his rant how India would lose 4-0, how it can’t save the final day of third Test, how Australia just has to turn up at Gabba to pocket the series and take a twirl. I am also not raking up his catch in the Mumbai Test of 2001, or how Kumble, his Indian rival at helm, during the MonkeyGate Test of Sydney in 2008, claimed only one side was playing cricket. I also can’t fetch you the tapes on his utterances on Shaw and Pant on Fox station in Australia. Ponting could have only the choicest of words for these two.
Now he would again be next to them. In-charge. At a sum which would only be slightly less than, say for instance, the amount our head coach gets for a year’s toil. Two months and a full year: Work out the maths. One without any accountability. The other which is butt of memes and snides. All kind of Tom, Dick and Harry are managing franchisees in the IPL. But. Our Aruns, Sridhars and Rathores? Na, na. Conflict of interest or whatever nonsense you could furnish up.
Now answer me: Why should Shastris, Aruns, Sridhars, Rathores prefer India colour and not IPL? Would you deny our domestic talents benefit with them by the side in IPL? Sorting your cocked wrist, your head position, your underarm flicks to the stumps? Would you deny that this team is the best in the world, probably good enough to take on the Rest on Mars, as if it were? That it has been the top team five times in last five years?
Yet, our Elders are Silent. The Press which has a few I respect. Why? What’s the motive for India’s support staff to stick with national colours when there is better pay, better party, better pomp in IPL? When you don’t have to be under glare 365 days a year? Just 14 matches, an evening’s work, for everything better except the honour and pride of serving your country? Your Pontings and Vaughans would’ve the best of both the worlds. Their Indian versions? Every incentive to junk the Indian colours.
Who do we ask? Kumble, Dravid or Ganguly? Ambani or Shahrukh Khan? My journo friends Sandeep Dwivedi, Sriram Veera, Sid Monga or Srinivas Rao? Or we cricket lovers jam the radio stations, storm the Social Media?
It’s that kind of lapse.