There will be those who will say that if Saurashtra were playing with Jadeja and Pujara it would have been tougher for Mumbai.
By Sunil Gavaskar
Novak Djokovic’s win in the first major of the year gives him the chance of the Grand Slam of winning all the four majors in the year. With Rafael Nadal just making a comeback to tennis with some events in South America it may well be some time before he gets back to his ferocious self. How his knee stands up to the rigours of running back and forth, which is his game, will soon be seen and no doubt not just the tennis aficionados but also the top players like Djokovic, Federer and Murray will be following with more than just passing interest. Djokovic had a dream run last year when he won the Australian and All England Opens but lost early in the French open and in the finals to Murray at the US Open in a pulsating five setter. Here in Australia he won in four sets against the same opponent but what is quite clear is that both Djokovic and Murray have just moved a step ahead of the others including Federer though of course nobody in his right mind would ever write off Federer at Wimbledon.
The women's field looks a bit more open despite the domination of Serena Williams last year. She was surprised by a teenager from America who seems to have taken after Serena and if she stays injury free then she could well dominate as the Williams sisters did for much of the last decade. The Russian brigade is still around with their screaming and loud grunting. Victoria Azarenka retained her title with a hard fought win in the finals so she has a chance to repeat what Djokovic has done and win it three years in a row if she triumphs next year. She had to play a tough opponent and the crowd which was in the corner of her Chinese opponent not just because the Chinese is not getting younger but also because the crowd thought that she had resorted to gamesmanship by taking longer than the permitted three minute break for treating an injury in the semis against the American teenager.
Reading about the way the crowd was stacked against Azarenka for her so called gamesmanship brought a smile because the Australians don’t find anything wrong in the sledging and abusing that the Australians do on the cricket field. If that is not gamesmanship then tell me another but that is supposed to be macho and now we are told that it is also a mark of respect when players get into a slanging match on the field as happened in the second T20 game that the Lankans won. So quite clearly during the years that I played against the Australians they had no respect for the Indians since they hardly ever said a word to us. Correct me if I am wrong but we all thought that the matches were pretty competitive and hard fought be it in India or Australia. With the Australian team due to play four Tests in India in a few weeks time we will soon see how much respect they have for the Indians.
Mumbai won the Ranji trophy with great ease showing that there is a huge difference between playing league games where the players are aware there is another game next week and playing in the knockouts where a loss means that they are out of the event. There will be those who will say that if Saurashtra were playing with Jadeja and Pujara it would have been tougher for Mumbai. Maybe the result would have been a bit delayed but wouldn’t have been different looking at the manner in which Mumbai played.
As usual BCCI bashers found fault with BCCI refusing to release Pujara and Rahane for the finals but national duty comes first. The last ODI match was also in a place where it would not be easy to fly in a replacement and it was an early start too so if anybody came down with illness or injury in the morning of the game then the team would have been short and even if they had already won the series, no team wants to go in with a second string lineup.
The domestic programme is fixed in May since there are so many tournaments including junior cricket and the venues and logistics have to be planned well in advance. If anything, once the international schedule was finalised and it was seen that there was a three week gap between the English tour ending and the Australian tour arriving, then it should have been brought to the notice that the Ranji finals could start a couple of days after the last one-dayer instead of a day before the last one-dayer. For all you know it could have been between two teams who did not have any players in the national team.
If they are so concerned about the best players not being made free for the national championships then why are they not asking that the same principle be applied to the Irani Trophy and the best of the rest play the Ranji Champions? The fact is that over the last couple of decades the Irani trophy is used to have a look at the emerging and fringe players and to see how they fare against the best team in the country. That is a sensible move and with the Aussies coming in for four Tests it will give the selectors another look at these players. As said earlier national considerations must come first. Always.