It seems to be a season of retirements – Dravid, Laxman, Roddick, Klijsters, Strauss, Schumacher and now Ponting. Poor Tendulkar finds himself under pressure and all his feats over 23 years of international cricket are being swept under carpet. His critics, much like the hounds, have renewed their baying for Sachin’s retirement as if cricket is all about one player performing or otherwise.
The so-called analysis of Sachin’s form over the past year or so makes little sense and is grossly unfair considering that the team had flopped collectively and it is nothing but blackmail to hold the gun to the maestro’s head and demand his retirement.
If it was all about statistics, then there is no place for the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni and may be even Kohli. Also add Harbhajan and Zaheer Khan to this list. We might as well field the India “A” team while demanding that all those above 30 years of age quit the game.
I cannot for the life of me understand or digest this media obsession with numbers and retirements. I will squarely blame the media, especially the ill-informed English TV channels whose “sports editors” are quite clueless and ignorant while spewing utter nonsense most of the time. If anything, it is about time our “celebrated” TV anchors and sports editors retire for the sheer nonsense they have been speaking in the recent past.
Whatever, Sachin has done well to maintain a dignified silence amidst this cacophony. He may or may not score runs in the upcoming two Tests, but I feel that he deserves the honour of deciding when he wants to quit and until then, it is best he is left alone. You certainly cannot question his commitment to the game or, for that matter, the team.
On the other hand, Ponting’s retirement was to be expected, for I am convinced that the Aussie selectors would have had a quiet word with him prior to the ongoing series against South Africa and made it known that either Punter performs or steps down. The Aussies are quite good at taking such decisions and Ponting was given the space to make the announcement.
We may not see another player like Ponting who reflected the Australian way of cricket – ruthless and tough. Though we might question his approach and attitude, the fact was that he delivered strong results that eventually won him a spot in the game’s pantheon. As a captain and batsman, he brought a lot to the table, and somebody like Dhoni can take a leaf out of Punter’s book.
But I doubt Dhoni will care to look beyond his nose. He has again been in the news for all the wrong reasons and his insistence of a designer pitch that will turn square from the first over is akin to a spoilt brat making demands. Such a pity that our spineless BCCI gives in to the captain in not only giving him the team he wants, but also sideline the Eden Garden curator for refusing to oblige Dhoni in preparing a spinner’s paradise that is a euphemism to an under-prepared pitch.
The heavy defeat in Mumbai on a pitch that was to Dhoni’s liking and prepared to his instructions, exposed the captain who would have thought that only one team plays a Test match. The fact is that Dhoni is probably one of the most stubborn captains to grace Indian cricket and his vision is limited to winning on home soil.
Apparently, Dhoni has not learnt much from the Mumbai debacle as he continues to insist on a similar pitch for next week’s Test in Kolkata. The captain seems to care two hoots for any reason or acknowledge the fact that the English spinners Swann and Panesar are as capable as their Indian counterparts, if not more.
It is to be hoped that the week-long interval between Tests will help the Indians to regroup and introspect ahead of the Kolkata game. After all, England, despite the convincing win in Mumbai, revolve around a handful of players. Cook and Pietersen weighed in with the bat while Panesar and Swann ripped through the Indian line-up. Take away the foursome, and there is not much to look at. So, India should fancy their chances in Kolkata without getting distracted by the nature of pitch.
Last weekend also saw Schumacher driving into sunset and the Formula One will certainly miss a character who certainly embellished racing with his feats that are likely to remain unmatched for quite a while unless his protege Vettel maintains his present form that saw the young German winning his third consecutive World title.
Ferrari might have questioned the legality of Vettel’s victory citing an overtaking under yellow flag that if true would have cost the German a penalty of 20 seconds while helping Alonso win the title. But then, the FIA rightly rejected such theory and Vettel will stay on as the champion. To say the least, it was egg on Ferrari who did not bring up the subject immediately after the race.
Thus, it has been an action-packed week with its quota of emotional and entertaining moments that provided a welcome break from scams and scandals!