Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tiger’s legend will live on

By John Cheeran
Tiger Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was born a prince but unlike the maharajas before him, he brought to Indian cricket an egalitarian attitude, unparalleled in the nation’s sporting history. Tiger wanted every player to give his best on the field.
He placed a premium on fielding excellence, a still neglected as aspect of the Indian game, and wrote in his famous autobiography, Tiger’s Tale, that in his team there would not be any place for a player however great he is but sloppy on the field.
Pataudi was a no-nonsense man. On a few occasions when one spoke to get his reactions on matters of cricket, his gruff voice over telephone conveyed his imperial manner that upset the officialdom in Indian cricket many a time. Vijay Merchant, the illustrious batsman from Bombay, when he was chairman of the selection committee, used his casting vote to deny Tiger a place in the side. Pataudi was recalled later to lead India against the West Indies in the 1974-75 home series, a series that galvanised Indian cricket. India, after losing the first two Tests, did the unimaginable against the mighty West Indians, by winning the next two.
In Pataudi, India had its finest leader of men (he led India in 40 Tests), till the advent of Sourav Ganguly and Mahinder Singh Dhoni clouded people’s judgments. Tiger’s daring was total in that he contested Lok Sabha elections in 1971 protesting against the abolition of privy-purse. Pataudi only scored 2793 runs in 46 Tests, a number that looks quite ordinary in contemporary cricket, but many still wonder how many more he would have scored if he had not injured his right eye early in his career.
(Tiger died in Delhi at the age of 70 on Thursday. He was suffering from lung disease.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why Dravid is not a one-day wonder but stay with us forever

By John Cheeran
Rahul Dravid, by any reckoning, is not a quitter.
But this Friday is different. Dravid, who never shied away from taking harsh and hard decisions on the field, is playing his last one-day international. India and the rest of the world will be watching for the last time a Dravid draped in colour blue. Champions of the world may not care. MS Dhoni may not care. Brand managers won’t cry. Dravid’s departure from one-day theatre cannot be quantified in terms of the thrills he offered.
He brought to batting crease an approach that was rooted in fundamentals. Never in a hurry, but always alive to the urgencies of the limited over cricket, Dravid lent his broad bat and battered body to Team India’s cause. But, finally, in the rush hour of T20, he was reduced to a loner by a selection committee that had got its priorities absolutely wrong.
After watching Dravid at 38 in England during the Test series, who would not ask Krishnamachari Srikkanth why the batsman was left out from the World Cup squad. Srikkanth could afford to look over Dravid since the World Cup was being held in the sub-continent where flat-track bullies reigned. And what made the same selection committee to recall him?
Many thought Dravid would quit international cricket all together after the England tour. The thought was not out of place especially after Dravid dazzled us with one Test century after another as India plumbed newer depths. This is the time to go. But Dravid has decided to stay back and leave at the same time, surprising yet again with his tenacity and hunger to prove detractors wrong. Dravid was a broken man after Indians immolated themselves in the Caribbean World Cup, in a bid to put Greg Chappell in his place. Dravid then had a lean patch and many wolves had wanted him to accompany Sourav Ganguly to the pavilion. But, then, Dravid believes in himself. Only he knows. Only he knows when to call it quits.
John Cheeran at Blogged