The karmaya that strikes national cricket | Sunday Observer

The karmaya that strikes national cricket

The National Cricket Team, once World Class, is struggling and suffering. They are unable to get their act together on the field and off. Now the world-beaters are the underdogs.

To be charitable, their cricket is going through a transitional period, having lost their greats in both batting and bowling and in leadership. Those leaders topped the Wisden Hall of Fame Boards.

After rebooting a bit following the departure of their STARS, the National Team brought in a younger genre. There were encouraging signs of recovery. Hope ran eternal. But their woes worsened. Natural panic set in. The doors were revolving at a giddy pace. In and out. Out and in. New players, New coaches, New Captains, and New selectors too. And in desperation there were ball tampering allegations. Some called it ‘Sandpaper Gate’ and we called it ‘I DON’T KNOW GATE.’ Some heads rolled, but only some!

Glorious uncertainties

Those who read this are all too familiar with this fate or ‘karmaya’, the cause and effect syndrome. We scribes called these Ups and Down or Neville Cardus’ Glorious Uncertainties of Cricket.

When reading the above you are obviously thinking that this is all about Sri Lanka Cricket. Well, you got it wrong! So here is the real story:

That Australian cricket is struggling and suffering, unable to get their act together on the field and off it that was an example to all countries playing the gentleman’s game in the not too distant past is obvious.

India who have not won a Test series ever ‘down under’ against Australia since 1947/48 slapped shame on Australian cricket and piled on that agony by winning the four-match series 2-1 with the final Test in Sydney ending as a draw due to bad light and rain.

When the series began, indications were that it would be a blockbuster with verbals between players adding spice. Australia were the underdogs what with their cricket going through a transitional period, having lost their greats.

Lustily cheering fans

Yet playing before their lustily cheering fans and on wickets and conditions suited to them, they were expected to guard pride and push the Indians. But although winning the second Test and keeping the series alive, the Indian cricketing juggernaut led cleverly by that run churning machine Virat Kohli put them to second best.

Losing the Test series had enough salt rubbed into their gaping wounds. But what would have been galling and anathema to them would have been the shame to be asked to follow-on in the final Test that was something that had not happened to their cricket in 30 years.

The previous time they suffered this ignominy was in 1988 when Mike Gatting’s Englishmen invited them to follow also on the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Australia’s cricket, after losing their greats was showing signs of improving. But their woes worsened and started in South Africa with the ball tampering allegations, that was later proved with the Australian captain Steve Smith, Vice Captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft named as the culprits and having to serve sentences ranging from one year to nine months.

Coach Lehmann resigns

Unable to face the shame coach Darren Lehman resigned, followed by some of the Australian cricket officials. In addition to the sentence imposed by the International Cricket Council, Cricket Australia slapped sentences on players that was applauded by the cricketing world. That was a shame that rocked the cricket establishment and all Australia and a shame that all Australians had to mask their faces.

Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal too was involved in a similar unsporting act in the Caribbean and was penalized by the International Cricket Council. But what was unacceptable was that Sri Lanka Cricket turned a blind eye to the shameful offence by not following the Cricket Australia style and slapping penalties on those who were allegedly involved. Sri Lanka Cricket lost the respect of the cricket world.

In Australia the incident was tagged the ‘SANDPAPER GATE’ and Sri Lanka it should have been tagged the ‘I DON’T KNOW GATE’, because at that time the Gypsies ballad ‘I don’t know’ was in vogue.

The culprit of the ball tampering incident went on record saying he did not know what he had in his mouth or pocket. Since those incidents a lot of water has flowed under the cricket bridge and the incidents will be best left buried in the land of the forgotten.

‘Sandpaper gate’

Australian cricket was just beginning to get back to its former glory days, and the ‘sandpaper gate’ made them lose two of their stalwarts in Steve Smith and David Warner captain and vice captain and the bashing that their cricket is now taking inflicted by Virat Kohli’s Indians is ample testimony to their drop in standards. But the silver lining in their gathering dark clouds is the possibility that Smith and Warner would be shunted in to the team that will contest the WORLD CUP in England.

Probably the best team

As for the Indians it must be said that they are probably having the best team ever fielded by India in its cricketing history. We are not trying to take away the brilliance of the Indian teams of the late 1940s that had champions such as Vinoo Mankad, C.T. Sarwate, Gul Mohamed, Hemu Adikari, Vijaya Hazare, Lala Amarnath, C.S.Naydu,Vijaya Merchant and Rusi Modi to mention a few.

But the present Indian team has the cricketing warriors who can hold their own, fight any team in any conditions or on any wickets and come out trumps. And they showed their unlimited talent, the will, the determination, the skill, fielding, batting, bowling and the all important clever and intelligent captaincy by Virat Kohli that make them the tops of the pops and the most attractive in the game today. While admitting that they are easily the best and the most attractive, in addition to Kohli, the deeds of one dropper Chetaswar Pujara with the willow and Jasprit Burmah with the ball deserve special mention.

One drop position

The one drop position in batting is the most important and responsible of all positions. At times he is asked to face the new ball when an opener is dismissed early and he must posses all that is required of a number three and must have the ability to steady an innings.

Another who needs mention was Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah who has pace and good movement was primarily considered a one-day bowler. But one man who can take credit for elevating Bumrah to Test cricket was former Indian captain and now TV Commentator Sunil Gavaskar.

Gavaskar justified

Gavaskar in his expert comments kept pressing for Bumrah to be given a go in Test cricket and the bowler justified Gavaskar’s call by rattling the Aussie batting by hurling some life threatening deliveries with his express pace with amazing accuracy which brought him bags of wickets which earned him the tag ‘SILENT KILLER’.

Reminds the writer of Frank Tyson being tagged ‘Typhoon Tyson’, Michael Holding the ‘SMILING ASSASSIN’, Jeff ‘TORNADO’ Thompson and Allan Donald ‘WHITE LIGHTNING’. It is hoped that Bumrah’s action will not be queried.

By the way play a straight bat and enjoy life now. It has an expiry date on it.

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