Sunday, November 28, 2021

Poor Jasprit Bumrah! Who are we to judge if he has chosen IPL over India?

I don’t like when people say Jasprit Bumrah has chosen his moment to marry in the middle of England series so he could have no interruption during the following IPL. They sound as if he has preferred lucre over national honours. Worse, when a win or loss will decide if India gets a shot at world Test championship title. Couldn’t marriage be held during the IPL?

In fact I would suggest every Indian fast bowler should attend his personal stuff in home series. First not more than two play; two, your appearance is more fleeting than the proverbial girl we all eyed from terrace at an appointed hour. Why not use those dates for your sponsors. Or discuss a biopic?

Then how do you say no to Ambanis, generous employers that they are. Among other things, they airlift you in a chartered chopper if you are missing a charity dinner. And please don’t tell me Bumrah would miss T20s too. When does he get a break if not between the two IPLs. Or between this and the next one in 2022?

Priority is a generational thing these days. We lived in the days when batters came out with broken arms or jaws to save a Test or help a teammate get a century (give a shout to Rick McCosker, Malcolm Marshall and our own Gursharan Singh for Sachin Tendulkar). I watched Anil Kumble bowl with a broken jaw for 14 straight overs in Antigua and take out Brian Lara, no less. He already had 300 wickets in his closet but India was eyeing a win after 500-plus in the Test and Anil couldn’t help but raise his hand. The day after was operation and that’s when family beckoned.

No wonder Kapil Dev cried on his landmark for he had once bowled India to win in Melhourne with an injured thigh. The young today won’t get that thrill which is a lifetime memory to millions of my age. These days a common cricket fan, a young kid who is inspired by a cancer-battling Yuvraj Singh lifting India to World Cup title, is such a faceless priority. Why bother. 

I wonder if I could ask Virat Kohli’s men what brought them to the field in the first place. Some were moved by the ask of their own family, a father hustling them out of bed when outside was still dark and even lying dogs won’t stir. Slim shoulders had heavy kits slung on the shoulder, a torn bus-pass, a distant location where you had been tasked to nail the mat and place the stumps too. You loved the game, you had your own heroes, and of course you wanted to be a world-beater. 

Now this is no longer a priority. Moeen Ali walks out because he is tired of bio-bubble, never mind he was missed by England in Ahmedabad. If you find him in his franchise’s colours in the IPL its only incidental. Who am I to judge a captain who wants to be at the bedside of his pregnant wife. As I said, priority is a generational thing these days.

I have never donned India’s colours so sure mine is a one-sided version. I don’t know the pressure, more so in this commercial age of cricket. Year-long cricket could leave your personal life in tatters, I get that. Where’s the emotional succour? Who am I to grudge a Suresh Raina and his 100 crores? India didn’t think he was worth more than 18 Tests. His employer thinks he is a legend. May be his success is inspiring million kids in a material way. Never mind if a few coaches who can provide answer to a rising ball are out of job.

Money tends to have that kind of effect, Heroism gets a new identity. I could lament till cows come home. But some things have changed forever. Sunil Gavaskar always bristled when someone wore India cap without having earned it. But now many worthy are willing to let it gather dust if they have been auctioned to their liking. I would be a fool to imagine an Ambani disapproving of this priority. Or a Board, headed by a cricketer who once shed blood to snatch his India cap back, cracking the whip.  

They sleep together in bed these days, you see.


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