Saturday, January 06, 2007

The great folly of the greats

In team sport and, inevitably then, in life there are two kinds of people. One group projects they are doing the needful. The second group does the needful.

The first group does it because they lose focus of the job at hand and start thinking of the negative possibilities and the criticism it will bring. So they take an option which, even though they know it to be second best, looks hardworking and thus inevitably brings them the sympathy of having trying hard.

"What will be said about me if I fail" becomes an intimidating thought to these men and women and following the processes that fetched them success becomes an impossibility. They stop realising that their chosen path is adverse to the job they got to do. They keep on taking this option even though they have perished with it time and again. So much for the argument of 'maybe this was the right way for them'.

In the process these people undermine the efforts of that other group who have not lost focus and who indeed were trying equally hard, and in the right way.

On the fourth day of the 3rd Test, as in that 3rd Test against England in Mumbai in 2006 and against Pakistan at Bangalore in 2005, [that is, the defining moment of many a Test series in the recent past] Dravid and Tendulkar belonged to the first group while Karthik,
again, confirmed his place in the second group.

So was Dada. The highest run aggregate amongst Indian batsmen in the 3 Test series came from the reinstated Sourav Ganguly. Comebacks this late in the career have seldom been more emphatic than that in Indian cricket.

Some time before the 1st Test he had shared his ways of success at Potchefstroom with others in the team. He followed those narrated methods right through this series. By the end of the 4th day at Newlands Dada's approach has been confirmed to be correct in emphatic fashion, while the reluctance of some others to heed his well-meaning advice shows them in rather poor light.

These are extreme moments when we actually start seeing some worth, and purpose, even in Viru's recklessness.

True that there were other let-downers like Laxman and Zaheer who got out to themselves and were an insult to the basic education of cricket and to the faith that millions of people, including the selectors, place on them. Also not too insignificant were the umpiring blunders that have continued over the series. Fascinating how most of them go against Asian teams whenever they are (deservingly or otherwise) on the verge of inflicting humiliation on one of the 'big' Test nations. Since those errors come from many umpires irrespective of nationality, I sometimes wonder if that ability to err against the Asian side at critical moments is a pre-requisite for becoming an ICC elite panel umpire.

Yet the partnership between two of India's best ever batsmen at a seminal moment for cricket in their country will remain the most unpalatable of them all irrespective of the result this fascinating match throws up today.

Their coccooning disheartened all viewers that have seen them batting with purpose in the past. Worse, it confirmed a sense of deja vu that came with the dismissal of Ganguly in his born-again avatar of the free-scoring strokeplayer of yore.


Anonymous said...

So will this hold even if India wins the 3rd Test?

angshu said...

Ya Jason, it would have held. Because then India would have won inspite of it.

However it would look smart if one of Sachin or Rahul did not get out, accelerated after tea and scored an 80 off 140 balls. I personally would rate even that result to have occured INSPITE of that batting, but then they would have attained the ultimate aim of scoring runs and we should have no problems with the process then.

Recent history says that except for Rahul Dravid (in form) no one in the present Indian team else is capable of holding on to his wicket even after getting bogged down and consequently facing pressure from bowlers.

Hence logically speaking, Indian batsmen should attempt that option; not even Dravid, as so often it brings about a dismissal at the other end.

angshu said...

I meant 'should NOT attempt that option' in the last para there.

Cursor said...

I dont want to comment on the commitment of Rahul or Sachin or the emotional fears that they might be subject to. "Thinking about what would be spoken of them if they fail", might not be the cause of their play. Rather an over cautious approach which both these players normally resort to was the main reason of failure. A leaf out of old Javed Miandad or Steve Waugh innings would help them. As far Dada, way to go!

angshu said...

But then, Cursor, therein lies their folly, or their fear of failure. Why would a great player repeatedly resort to a tactic that has failed to work and let opponents into the match so often?