England in India 2012-13 December 1, 2012

What do cricketing retirements have in common with Stalinist Russia?

Both are devoid of logic and justice, that's what
38

The India-England series moves to Eden Gardens in the coming week, amidst increasing frenzy over the pitch and what it might or might not do, and over one of the men who will attempt to play on it.

Sachin Tendulkar has been one of the greatest cricketers, and one of the most extraordinarily long-lasting elite sportsmen, of all time. Admittedly the first 13 billion years of time did not feature too much cricket or sport, give or take the occasional outbreak of Catch the Asteroid in the dinosaur community, but the last 140 years have been full of it, and Tendulkar's achievements and career span will stand out whether he plays one more Test or another 192. His batting in this Indian season has been stripped of its former certainties and precision. He deserves some kind of glorious ending, but the mysterious sporting scriptwriters about whom commentators are so fond of inquiring have an irritating habit of writing a dull, anti-climactic, inappropriate or rubbish final chapter. Bradman scored a duck in his last Test innings. Nasser Hussain blasted a match-clinching hundred and hit the winning runs. Jason Gillespie scored a double-century. Cricketing retirements are like Stalinist Russia - devoid of logic and justice.

India have opted not to drop any of the players who failed so strikingly in Mumbai, and instead have chosen to drop the curator of the ground where the next Test is to be played. To the neutral observer, this did not immediately seem to be entirely appropriate. Were the tentative prods and pokes at the Wankhede caused by the celebrated giants of Indian batsmanship worrying about what pitch the Eden Gardens groundsman was plotting for them? Who knows. In any case, the Indian batting folded like a tentative origami poker player, and the pressure had to tell on someone. Even if that someone had nothing to do with it.

Home-pitch advantage leading to skewed and unequal cricket is an age-old problem in cricket. I am sure you all agree that, in Kolkata, it would be grossly unfair for a turning wicket to be specially prepared. Particularly after the Mumbai Test quite clearly showed that one of the teams involved cannot play spin. Let us at least have a surface without such intolerable bias.

Petty squabbles over the surfaces prepared for cricket could easily be avoided, simply by removing home advantage from pitch preparation. A much fairer means of ensuring a surface that provides a just and equitable chance to both teams is to allow the home team and the away team each to prepare one end of the pitch. Furthermore, this would make for far more interesting cricket - if alternate overs were played on a green seamer flown in from Worcester and a rank dustbowl turner specially grown in the Gobi Desert.

The Indian camp have, additionally, sent the toe-end of Virat Kohli's bat to a private health resort, where it can be treated for post-traumatic stress.

World exclusive cricketer retirement breaking news India's Cheteshwar Pujara has announced plans to retire after the Ahmedabad Test against Australia in December 2025. Pujara, currently 24, said: "I know in my heart of hearts it will be time to go in 13 years' time."

Visibly emotional, a choked Pujara added: "It will be the perfect way to bow out, in front of my home crowd versus the team I made my debut against two long years ago. After much thought, I have realised that, come 2025, it will be the right moment for me to step aside. By then, players like Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane will have earned their chance."

Opponents and team-mates queued up to pay pre-emptive tribute to the Indian future stalwart. South Africa's Jacques Kallis said: "Pujara will have been a top, top player, and one of the most formidable opponents I will have encountered during the middle third of my career ‒ both whilst I am still playing for South Africa, and, subsequently, for England."

Indian legspinner Piyush Chawla commented: "It will be sad to see Pujara leave in 13 years, but it will have been a privilege to play with him in most of my 127 Tests for India, and to captain him in 70 of them. I will never forget the 350-run stand we will share for the third wicket at Lord's in 2021." Chawla was later taken away for psychiatric evaluation.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • bibhu on December 5, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    adding to this, Pujara's place will be genuinely filled by Tendulkar who will b back from a long break after his temporary retirement,and on the verge of scoring his 200th century in international cricket!!! Harbhajan Singh (then bowling coach) will be working with Piyush to bowl a doosra which can turn the ball like an off spinner!!!

    and the last one..

    Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan and Irfan Pathan hope of making a way into the ODI team,while selection committee easens of the pressure by making it clear that the one hitting the longest six of the bowling of then india's best bowler-Arjun tendulkar!!!

  • alexk on December 4, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    Why not play two pitches in each inning? One spin and one pace. Or what ever the mixture.

  • alexk on December 4, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Nice work on pujara retirement

  • Abdul on December 4, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    First of all im 1st 2nd Part abot Chawala was hilarious!

    3rd Andy please also cover Pontings' Carrer

  • Tonmoy Chakraborty on December 4, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    "Particularly after the Mumbai Test quite clearly showed that one of the teams involved cannot play spin."- Ouch! That's some grade-A low blow, Andy.

  • BR on December 3, 2012, 21:06 GMT

    Andy: With the greats making way for the new generation, I'm sure we'll see more farewell speeches. But it's funny how Ponting said '...I'll miss not being out there..." when he definitely meant quite the opposite - that'll he'll miss being out there. Would be wonderful to see your take on farewell speeches over the years.

    Cheers, BR

  • Aman Narang on December 3, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    This is simply brilliant Mr Zaltzman...

  • Ranga on December 3, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    My Goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Choking retirement of Pujara!!!! One of the greatest and glowing tributes to Pujara would be from Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar in 2025: "Pujara has been a wonderful player since I played with him in his first test. Over the past 127 tests, both of us shared wonderful partnerships. Sad that I wouldnt be able to bat with him anymore (Pujara and Tendulkar played together in 127 Tests, with 15 centuries and 25 half century partnerships, with a mammoth 337 against Zimbabwe at Kotla being the best. Incidentally, Sachin is the most capped test player with 322 Test caps and 20,062 Test runs at 41.36. He is till date, the oldest player to have played test cricket at 52 and is the oldest test centurion when he scored 100 v Bangladesh in Dhaka, his 53rd Test Century (which came after 10 years, a record for the most years between a century)

  • kuldeeep on December 3, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    hahaha.....cant stop smiling

  • mark on December 2, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    If life is an onion you are goulash. Never stop writing

  • bibhu on December 5, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    adding to this, Pujara's place will be genuinely filled by Tendulkar who will b back from a long break after his temporary retirement,and on the verge of scoring his 200th century in international cricket!!! Harbhajan Singh (then bowling coach) will be working with Piyush to bowl a doosra which can turn the ball like an off spinner!!!

    and the last one..

    Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan and Irfan Pathan hope of making a way into the ODI team,while selection committee easens of the pressure by making it clear that the one hitting the longest six of the bowling of then india's best bowler-Arjun tendulkar!!!

  • alexk on December 4, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    Why not play two pitches in each inning? One spin and one pace. Or what ever the mixture.

  • alexk on December 4, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Nice work on pujara retirement

  • Abdul on December 4, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    First of all im 1st 2nd Part abot Chawala was hilarious!

    3rd Andy please also cover Pontings' Carrer

  • Tonmoy Chakraborty on December 4, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    "Particularly after the Mumbai Test quite clearly showed that one of the teams involved cannot play spin."- Ouch! That's some grade-A low blow, Andy.

  • BR on December 3, 2012, 21:06 GMT

    Andy: With the greats making way for the new generation, I'm sure we'll see more farewell speeches. But it's funny how Ponting said '...I'll miss not being out there..." when he definitely meant quite the opposite - that'll he'll miss being out there. Would be wonderful to see your take on farewell speeches over the years.

    Cheers, BR

  • Aman Narang on December 3, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    This is simply brilliant Mr Zaltzman...

  • Ranga on December 3, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    My Goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Choking retirement of Pujara!!!! One of the greatest and glowing tributes to Pujara would be from Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar in 2025: "Pujara has been a wonderful player since I played with him in his first test. Over the past 127 tests, both of us shared wonderful partnerships. Sad that I wouldnt be able to bat with him anymore (Pujara and Tendulkar played together in 127 Tests, with 15 centuries and 25 half century partnerships, with a mammoth 337 against Zimbabwe at Kotla being the best. Incidentally, Sachin is the most capped test player with 322 Test caps and 20,062 Test runs at 41.36. He is till date, the oldest player to have played test cricket at 52 and is the oldest test centurion when he scored 100 v Bangladesh in Dhaka, his 53rd Test Century (which came after 10 years, a record for the most years between a century)

  • kuldeeep on December 3, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    hahaha.....cant stop smiling

  • mark on December 2, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    If life is an onion you are goulash. Never stop writing

  • John on December 2, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    LMAO! You are amazing

  • rocket amateur on December 2, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    the sarcasm at Tendulkar is really a gem..hope the other readers look it this way as well ;)

  • Shobhit on December 2, 2012, 4:54 GMT

    A change for all good. Not a bad way to look at the things especially if it gets humorous it does not get better than this. I seriously wish whoever is tagged in this piece should come across it. For a change, of course.

  • david on December 2, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    i believe the youth have a word for it: LOL (Lawrence?) Very funny stuff... England, facing a inferior team, and one whatismore in denial, should walk this series now...

  • Jay on December 2, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    After 8-0 overseas defeats, media has been demanding some action. After home defeat now, somebody has been dropped ...the groundsman !!

  • Siva on December 1, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    Excellent - loved this line "India have opted not to drop any of the players who failed so strikingly in Mumbai, and instead have chosen to drop the curator of the ground where the next Test is to be played "

  • Harshit Jain on December 1, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    The Pujara section had me laughing like never before. Especially the Piyush Chawla one...hysterical!!!

  • Guest on December 1, 2012, 17:08 GMT

    NOT Funny.

  • PRATIK VATS on December 1, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    hey andy,

    retirement 2025 : Kevin forced retire out of the English boxing team after he leaked out the weaknesses in defence of his retiring boxing team captain Andrew Flintoff to the Indian boxing team.

  • Shalom on December 1, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    I am delirious with laughter. The entire section on Pujara's retirement should be typed in golden ink and hung in some cricket museum. Absolutely stunning

  • Tony on December 1, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    With a startling fact about Gillespie that begins like an exceptionally normal writting, and makes one wonder why is it coming under page2.Typical Zaltzman start.

    Some of what I liked were, Were the tentative prods and pokes ......

    Particularly after the Mumbai Test quite clearly showed that one of the teams involved cannot play spin.... subtle

    both whilst I am still playing for South Africa, and, subsequently, for England.”

    Nice work.

  • Subhankar Roy on December 1, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    The last paragraph is awesome. :D

  • saurabh gupta on December 1, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    Andy, Have been reading your blogs for a long time. This one seemed a little weak till I reached the end of it, when I burst out laughing.

  • jagat on December 1, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    Priceless...helpless with laughter, tears rolling down my chubby beer-fed cheeks :)

    Keep writing, Andy :D

  • Rahul Raina on December 1, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    The joke on Chawla is the greatest i have heard in years. Rock on Andy, Great article.

  • osama on December 1, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    hahahahahahhahah andy this was absolutely brilliantly hilarious

  • Omkar on December 1, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    & While we say goodbye to a talented player in 13 years. By 2025 Alastair Cook would have scored his 259th century captaining England for 180th time. Sumit Patel would have lost 0.0001 pounds, playing his 120th test with average of 145 & 1 respectively for bowling & batting.

  • Sanjeeva on December 1, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    This one is hilarious! This stands out " Admittedly the first 13 billion years of time did not feature too much cricket or sport, give or take the occasional outbreak of Catch the Asteroid in the dinosaur community"

  • Sid on December 1, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    God this is gold.

  • bluefunk on December 1, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    hahahaha fantastic. literally laughing out loud. thanks muchly andy

  • vijai on December 1, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    Best zaltz post yet loved the india drops curator and chawla pieces!

  • fakd on December 1, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    Opponents and team-mates queued up to pay pre-emptive tribute to the Indian future stalwart. South Africa’s Jacques Kallis said: “Pujara will have been a top, top player, and one of the most formidable opponents I will have encountered during the middle third of my career

  • Mohsin on December 1, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    The following year, in 2026 will see Ajit Agarkar announce his retirement from Test cricket.

  • Praveen on December 1, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    Andy... You just Rock :-) Awesome !!!

  • Siddharth on December 1, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    Hilarious man!!!! "I will never forget the 350-run stand we will share for the third wicket at Lord’s in 2021." Truly outstanding!!! :-D

  • Aniruddh on December 1, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Great article. But Pujara is from Rajkot, not Ahmedabad.

  • Anonymous on December 1, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    Hilarious !!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Talha Irfan on December 1, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Hahahhahaa.....Epic One!! Especially the Kallis one: “Pujara will have been a top, top player..." Hahaha...Awesome

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Talha Irfan on December 1, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    Hahahhahaa.....Epic One!! Especially the Kallis one: “Pujara will have been a top, top player..." Hahaha...Awesome

  • Anonymous on December 1, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    Hilarious !!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Aniruddh on December 1, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Great article. But Pujara is from Rajkot, not Ahmedabad.

  • Siddharth on December 1, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    Hilarious man!!!! "I will never forget the 350-run stand we will share for the third wicket at Lord’s in 2021." Truly outstanding!!! :-D

  • Praveen on December 1, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    Andy... You just Rock :-) Awesome !!!

  • Mohsin on December 1, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    The following year, in 2026 will see Ajit Agarkar announce his retirement from Test cricket.

  • fakd on December 1, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    Opponents and team-mates queued up to pay pre-emptive tribute to the Indian future stalwart. South Africa’s Jacques Kallis said: “Pujara will have been a top, top player, and one of the most formidable opponents I will have encountered during the middle third of my career

  • vijai on December 1, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    Best zaltz post yet loved the india drops curator and chawla pieces!

  • bluefunk on December 1, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    hahahaha fantastic. literally laughing out loud. thanks muchly andy

  • Sid on December 1, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    God this is gold.