This, that and the other. Mostly the other
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Players/Officials: Sachin Tendulkar
The Indian board, my friends, is a much shrewder outfit than you think. But first, some context.
Over the last few weeks there have been one or two articles questioning the current status quo in Indian cricket. The reason for this sudden outpouring of unsolicited analysis is quite obvious to anybody who has followed the outcomes on the ongoing English tour of India. Results have not gone in India's favour.
(But why is anybody surprised by these defeats? Bereft of the challenge of playing a world-class team, and hampered by a meandering format that places no emphasis on urgency, the Indians simply haven't seen the need to perform at their best. Test cricket is not an emotional Ponzi scheme like Masterchef Australia where contestants, even when asked to boil three cups of water in 45 minutes with nothing more than a stove, a few saucepans and a scripted outcome, immediately decide "to give 200% or I could be going home today". Then just go home, man. Nonsense.)
However, that does not mean everything is hunky dory with Indian cricket. Not at all. There are many problems and people are right to point them out. Some of the major complaints so far include: inadequate bowling, substandard batting, laughable fielding, incompetent captaincy, not enough wins, predominantly losing, allowing other countries to score more runs and take more wickets, national sense of inferiority and low self-esteem, not winning any more World Cups since the one in 2011, cricketers making too much money, not placing a fielder at leg slip even though you have been screaming this at the television set continuously since the first over, and arbitrary cancellation of excellent up-and-coming IPL franchises.
But the two most commonly cited complaints have been the BCCI's disinterest in actual cricketing affairs, and Sachin Tendulkar's refusal to retire and make way for others.
Let me be frank. Like most Indian people I am a huge fan of Sachin Tendulkar, own all the albums of Bryan Adams, and I don't see the point of Bhutan. However, I do not think that his past glories give him some kind of all-access-pass to sustain his career beyond all productive duration. Give up, Bryan, give up.
With Tendulkar it is a little more complicated. And asking the BCCI to eject him from the team raises many questions. The first question is: what is the right time for the BCCI to ease him out? The second question is: where in Mumbai will the BCCI build its new head office after the current one has been firebombed to rubble by Sachin fans?
The ire against the BCCI hit fever pitch recently when, with blatant disregard for all this analysis, the selectors axed Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh from the Test squad. It was as if Sachin Tendulkar was once again being left on that high pedestal.
And then it hit me. This was not cowardice. It was diabolical genius. Let me explain.
The BCCI is actually not at all afraid of dropping Tendulkar. After all, there are several exciting young batsmen to be found in Indian domestic cricket - if you follow it as closely as I do. There is one good fellow in Railways. And one exciting prospect in the Mumbai team. Anil something. Or maybe Ashok.
But how to do this without unleashing nationwide unrest?
I believe this is what the BCCI is doing: Instead of dropping Sachin from the team, they are surreptitiously dropping the rest of the team from Sachin. So far they have dropped Zaheer, Yuvi and Bhajji. After the Nagpur Test they will drop three more senior players. Perhaps Gambhir, Sehwag and Kohli.
This will continue until everyone in the current squad will be dropped, leaving only Sachin, Dhoni and some liabilities like Ravindra Jadeja and Pragyan Ojha. Then one day they will drop Dhoni as well. Thereby creating an India B team that is exactly like the current India A team except for… Sachin Tendulkar!
Next, in a move of North Korean genius, they will declare the useless main squad the "Mahatma Gandhi Honorable National Cricket Team In Perpetuity" and install them in New Delhi. While the India B team will henceforth be used for the messy, plebeian business of playing cricket.
This will then open a new chapter of cricketing glory for India, freed from the looming shadow of the Little Master, whilst still maintaining Tendulkar's position upon the pedestal.
This is a plan of sheer brilliance. And my heartiest congratulations to the BCCI for having implemented it. I hope this will put an end to all the unnecessary prognostications.
Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and editor with Mint, and the author of the Dork trilogy. Who Let the Dork Out? released in October
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