For the last fortnight, one of the biggest sporting extravaganza, The Olympics took center stage and with some scintillating performances, the likes of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and many other touted greats certainly established themselves as legends in their respective sport. Our cricket-crazy nation too earned a rich haul, making the masses sit up and take note of a bunch of individuals who were hitherto struggling in the wilderness. So kudos to them for coming up with some stellar performances and awakening the country to the needs of other sports, albeit temporarily.
However, like a bee that keeps coming back to the sweetest flower in the garden, cricket too couldn’t be kept away from making news. Rohit Sharma’s dreadful form, the tussle between Kevin Pietersen and the ECB, the eccentricities of the Indian selectors and more lately the off-field antics of Asad Rauf ensured that cricket made it to the headlines, stealing the limelight from the Olympic winners.
For starters, Rohit Sharma with his dismal performance in the Sri-Lankan series ensured that his name kept coming up in the morning newspapers more often than that of the true stars. The ‘special talent’ that he is, he did seem to exhibit a rare penchant for getting out in single figures. The fact that the number of wides bowled in every match were more than what he managed to score in each of his innings just went to show how low on confidence he was. Gautam Gambhir, like a true team man did come out in support of his team mate and when asked whether the management was looking at options beyond Rohit Sharma, he replied that the out-of-form batsman was the best of the lot in the nets. His statement however, is open to conjecture as to what really Rohit Sharma does at the nets. From the looks of it, it certainly isn’t in wielding the willow that he manages to better his in-form team mates.
In England, the row between the ECB and Kevin Pietersen was increasingly turning out to resemble a quintessential lovers tiff. The ECB, like the fairer sex, wasn’t too happy with Pietersen, who is known to have a roving eye, for asking to be reprieved from professional commitments in order to take part in the cash rich Indian premier league, in this case the other girl. This dame was made of much sterner stuff though, and the ECB declined to give any preferential treatment to Pietersen. The stalemate continued for a few days before Pieterson, like the defeated party in a lovers argument, declared full commitment to the English side.
However, the affair got a bit messy when rumors of Pietersen sending messages to the South Africans, ridiculing his team mates, started doing the rounds and Pietersen found himself out of the squad for the third test match. Thus, the situation stands with Pietersen apologizing for his indiscretion and the final say lying with the ECB. Pietersen’s fans would be praying for some sort of a compromise and on my part I do hope that in the interest of English cricket, for heaven only knows if England would have gone into the third test trailing 0-2 had it not been for Pietersen’s heroics in the second test match, that the row is resolved.
Back home it was the turn of the Indian national selectors to assert their claim for being a ‘bunch of clowns headed by a joker’ – a label that their Sri-Lankan counterparts would be well aware of (read Marvan Atapattu). The selection committee headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, keeping up with their consistent run of shoddy selections in the past, came up with some bizarre selections for the upcoming T-20 world cup. One can surely guess how bad a job they must have done to come under such heavy criticism, inspite of finally giving Ravindra Jadeja the boot. Piyush Chawla and Laxmipathy Balaji were drafted into the side; the latter’s selection less surprising considering his decent performance in the IPL, but the inclusion of Piyush Chawla baffled one and all. They probably were looking for someone to fit into Jadeja’s boots, and who better than Piyush Chawla? After all he holds the dubious record for conceding the maximum number of sixes in the IPL, against his name. Thankfully their tenure is now over and hopefully their successors will do a much saner job.
Finally, the recent allegations on Asad Rauf by a Mumbai based model of sexually exploiting her on the pretext of marrying her, must have surely left some players who have gone down that lane amused that even serious looking officials fall prey to temptations. Moreover, the piece of news has done nothing to tarnish the glamorous image of the IPL, which is notorious for such activities that go on discretely. Instead, it goes a step further in transcending the known fact that only the flamboyant players enjoy such pleasures. It does highlight another interesting point too – behind the austere visage lies a frivolous IPL product.
Thus, the controversies, the idiosyncrasies, the surreptitious activities made it difficult to keep cricket away from the media glare, but for reasons which do not characterize the gentleman’s game. Hopefully the cricketing fraternity will take a cue from the recently concluded Olympics and let their on-field performance do the talking.