Thursday, November 30, 2006

End-Nov report card

Take a talented all rounder, capable of troubling batsmen all around the world with his natural swinging abilities and also of averaging 30+ with the bat in all conditions. Take out consistency from his bowling and application from his batting. What do you get? Ajit Agarkar, for most of his career.

Take a bowler who is no good at turning the ball, who happens to be amongst the dodgiest ground fielder around ever to walk the ground, er, earth and who has only ever played one kind of shot with a bat in hand. Add application to his bowling, purpose to his batting and ‘never say die’ to his spirit. What do you get? The Anil Kumble we all know.

Take a batsman whose exhilarating talent was aided to full bloom by his unfettered approach to success and whose fielding abilities had once proven crucial to his team’s greatest overseas triumph in recent years. Remove the basics and the work ethic that took him there as also the willingness to do his job with the team under pressure; replace those with stubbornness and fatalism. What do you get? The wreck of a one-day player that is Virender Sehwag in end’06.

Take an otherwise capable quick bowler whose main problem was that he thought he was doing his country a favour by turning up to play for her and consequently never collected throws from fielders after delivering the ball. Add a year of penitence and willingness to do the hard yards for making himself worthy of the highest level. What do you get? The reincarnated Zaheer Khan of South Africa.

Take a once- in-a-generation batsman and remove his confidence of dominating the opposition and his belief in being able to see his team home in a run-chase by staying till the end. What do you get? A Sachin Tendulkar still struggling his way back from an unwelcome career hiatus induced by tennis-elbow!

Pick up a seriously talented, sharp-paced bowler with natural lifting ability from the sleepy world of Indian domestic cricket (that is light years adrift of a modern-day urge-cum-necessity named fitness) and put him under the quadruple pressure and workload of international cricket. What do you get? A perennially injured Munaf Patel.

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