By Dilip Bobb
Following the Indian team’s elimination in the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup 2019, agitated fans, cricket experts and related persons flooded the BCCI’s website with suggestions on how to avoid such situations in future where hype conceals reality. The suggestions have been handed over to the Selection Committee staffed by the same cricket experts. Regardless, some suggestions are worth recording:
- Induct more “bits and pieces” players, they seem to perform far better than the specialised batsmen/bowlers/fielders when push comes to shove. A parallel suggestion is to use cricket expert (though many would dispute that definition) Sanjay Manjrekar to identify more of these specimens after Ravindra Jadeja’s performance witnessed him eating humble pie in the commentator’s lounge. Mea Culpa, or the equivalent of Virat Kohli tossing his heavily sponsored bat in the air after being dismissed cheaply.
- Preserve a cast of Shikhar Dhawan’s plaster cast which eliminated him from the World Cup and put it in a special box in the Selection Committee’s room to serve as a reminder that injury to a single player can play such havoc with the selection of replacements and movement up and down the batting order which probably cost India its pre-ordained place in the finals. Like the semi-final proved, over-dependence on one player, or two, means entering the corridor of uncertainty, or, to put more bluntly, eliminating the certainty of a win.
- One suggestion, obviously from a BJP worker/supporter, is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his vice-captain, Amit Shah, should play a more active role in such tournaments. When chants of “Modi, Modi” echo across the stadium instead of “Dhoni, Dhoni”, players are inspired to conduct surgical strikes against the opposition, while if Amit Shah was around, the suggestion says, he would have induced at least nine New Zealand players to switch to India colours, thus ensuring team India make it to the finals.
- There should be a restriction on how many wicket keepers can be selected among the eleven—the Indian World Cup team which played against the Kiwis in the semi-finals had four wicket keepers, three more than the sanctioned strength. They were MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik and KL Rahul and the word extras never meant so much, especially considering how the four performed in the crunch situation. It would have worked if all four were allowed to wear wicket keeping gloves while fielding but that proposal was also dropped.
- Perfecting the Reverse Sweep: Quite a few fans made this suggestion while weeping into their Tiffin boxes and tearing up their tickets to the finals at Lords. The suggestion that Indian batsmen must perfect the reverse sweep is accompanied by photos and press cuttings of the political events in Karnataka and Goa, hinting that players should hold net sessions with MLAs from the two states who are now deemed to be experts in the art of switch hitting.
- Solving Number Four, as in a crossword puzzle where four up and four down reflects the dilemma faced by the Indian team management, basically Kohli and Ravi Shastri. Not being able to fill the number four slot proved the equivalent of hit wicket for the Indian team, where the regular number four, as in KL Rahul, was made to open, leaving the specialist position in the hands of the inexperienced or the unaccustomed. India’s number four problem turned into a middle order muddle which contributed to its downfall when the chips were down, along with wickets.
- Dhoni dilemma: The flood of suggestions concerning the future of Dhoni is a reflection of how he has agitated the minds of fans, selectors and captains alike with his pregnant silence on whether he will gracefully retire or continue to induce cardiac episodes in the watching public. In deference to his heroic contributions to Indian cricket, belling the cat has been declared a no ball.
- Too many cooks could best describe the number of coaches now appended to the Indian team, for batting, bowling, fielding, physio and trainer. Head coach Shastri is quite visible but the rest, which includes Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun, are under the baggage scanner to see whether they are merely accompanied baggage. Many suggestions were actually queries about their contribution and whether some measure of Rahul Gandhi-type accountability was the need of the hour.
- Eliminate the hype: Considering the Big Fat Indian Wedding atmosphere created by the Bharat Army and our Energiser Bunny commentators, the loss to New Zealand, considered the real bunnies, was made ever more painful. It was time to recall a quote by tennis sensation Boris Becker, when he was knocked out of Wimbledon by an unfancied opponent: “Nobody died, I just lost a tennis match.”
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