December 1, 2012

England in India 2012-13

What do cricketing retirements have in common with Stalinist Russia?

Andy Zaltzman
Cheteshwar Pujara trains in Ahmedabad, November 14, 2012
For whom the rooster crows: Cheteshwar Pujara is set to endure a heartbreaking farewell in 2025  © Associated Press


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

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Posted by 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!!!

Posted by 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.

Posted by alexk on (December 4, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

Nice work on pujara retirement

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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

Posted by Aman Narang on (December 3, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

This is simply brilliant Mr Zaltzman...

Posted by 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)

Posted by kuldeeep on (December 3, 2012, 7:23 GMT)

hahaha.....cant stop smiling

Posted by mark on (December 2, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

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

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Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on ESPNcricinfo.

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