Tuesday, June 20, 2006


He was the quintessential bits and pieces man - a lower middle order power wielder with the bat who could roll his arm over adequately and field like there was no tomorrow. If I were to name one man from the large pool of India's international cricketers who received less recognition than they deserved for their efforts (if not substantial contributions) then it must be Ravindra Ramnarain Singh or 'Robin'. Although he played a few one-dayers for India unsuccessfully in the late eighties, people identify him more as a late-90's player because he was drafted into the side for good only during the tri-nation Titan Cup in 1996, a tournament that India miraculously won beating two great sides.

Robin was 33 years young at the time and only Azharuddin in the side was older than him. 4 years and many ice-nerved finishing acts later, Robin was dropped after an ICC trophy campaign that gave Indian supporters hope and Sourav Ganguly's nascent leadership some more time. He was perhaps still the fittest person in that squad, rivalled on that count only by an 18 year old debutante named Yuvraj Singh.

Robin struggled during that 2000 ICC trophy tournament and in all fairness he did not have the backup of steady performances to see him through the extended lean trot. He was perhaps nearing the end of his international career as a player and the decision to discard him seemed logical. Robin refused to take his omission as a natural consequence though and held it as a manouevre by the team management, if reports are to be believed.

Those were speculations; after all it is rare for an omitted ex-cricketer to be enquired if he is upset and get flashed on the headlines unless you are an ex-captain that died in harness. Part of reports about his disenchantment seemed to be true during the sponsorship row before 2002 ICC trophy when some key international players almost did not go to Sri Lanka. Robin at that time responded positively to the Board's request to get prepared as cover instead of 'showing solidarity with the senior team and refusing'.

But fruitless emotions are no good preventing someone like Robin Singh from being a contributor to the team cause. After a hiatus he was back to his destined duty as a valuable worker bee in the hive of Indian cricket. This time Robin found a role to play beyond the playing arena and assumed charge as the coach of Indian A team. He continues in that capacity to this date and true to form, he does his duties with acceptable end results.

Robin must get overshadowed by other bigger fish in his new trade, once again. I mean, no one was ever heard referring to Robin as the 'guru' of A-team or his wards as members of 'Team Robin'! But malice is never a constituent of people in his mould.
This piece about Trescothick could easily be reworded to describe this invaluable Caribbean import of Indian cricket during his playing days. Men such as these think nothing of never getting worshipped like some more fortunate mates for doing their best. They are prepared to smile through hardworking days that lead to obscurity of backpages, all for the crime of not being flashy.

For the moment, the man is in action and has a purpose that is greatly relevant to cricket in his beloved adopted country, and from what we know of him that is all that he cares about in this world.

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