Friday, October 06, 2006

Sanjay Bangar

Some cricketers have all the luck.

They get extra chances, extra facilities, extra media attention, extra fan following and the utterly forgettable resultant - extra sponsorship deals.

You can bet that dour and gritty ex-India player and Railways all-rounder Sanjay Bangar never got to play those extraaa shots. He is your regular no-nonsense bits-and-pieces guy, born to do everyday jobs of far less national importance than making people flock to stadia just to watch him play.

So what kind of jobs do the Bangars do? Leading an unfancied Railways side to Ranji trophy triumph, for example. Or setting little big examples of solidarity that help alleviate perennial woes of his railway mates making do with a non-existent support system. And helping bind his bunch of men-on-wheels together to make this team perform wondrously better than the sum of its parts.

Unfortunately the options of extra chances, extra facilities and extra attention fly extra quick out through of the window when a blue collar guy enters the scene. That brings us to another question: what does a Bangar get back for his contributions? Let us explore.

A Test batting average of 47.85 at home. Hmm, that is a steady start. That figure is 18 points more than his overall Test average, something he can mention to his grandchildren with a 'been there done that' nod. Pity Bangar the bowler could never back it up and remained wicketless in his six home Tests, or he could be a rather handy all-round horse for the Indian course. Let’s see what more we have in the Bangar baggage of collections.

OMG, he is the guy with the most unforgettable ‘only fifty-plus Test score on foreign soil’ on earth! Wow, wonder how this most temporary of openers had the audacity to partner Dravid in exorcising the resident evil ‘genie of away losses’ out of its permanent abode, the Team India bottle, on that crucial first day of the 2002 Headingley Test.

It seems he did have some luck in making himself a name.

“Aw c’mon, look at the stinking ODI stats of this all-rounder…”

Truth hits you hard and snaps you back to reality with a batting avg of 13.84 and bowling avg of 54.85. That batting average is a full two points less than Agarkar’s! I’m afraid the fairytale has ended and we have no more knots to unravel inside Bangar's backpack…he will now have to walk away into the horizon clasping his pedestrian record close to heart. Sadly the bag is all empty now. But at least Bangar has been guaranteed of some applause along his exit route after showing off those extraa bits of his.

Hold on a second, what of that only ODI fifty of his in 15 matches? Scoring 57 off 41 balls at five down with 96-to-win in a fifty-over–match enroute an overhaul of West Indies ‘ 325 in India was surely no joke. There there, even his only 50-plus knock in ODI’s threw a punch worth remembering. Dravid was again the partner watching from the other end.

Given that Sanjay Bangar played so few matches for India and did not exactly set the stage on fire in those, it is unusual that we remember almost every notable performance he put up in India colours. Some people have all the luck indeed. Perhaps they deserve no less.

A few extraa claps for Sanjay Bangar please.

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