By Sunil Gavaskar
India’s 100th win in a Test match came at Kanpur and showed how the game of cricket can change the fortunes of the players in a matter of days. If in Ahmedabad it was Sri Lanka who dominated the Test match, in Kanpur it was India all the way as they won in style.
The Kanpur Test match also saw the comeback to Test cricket by Sreesanth after being out of the team for over 19 months. To be fair some of that time out was due to an injury that he suffered and from which he has recovered now, but there was also a sense of despair being felt in official circles about his tendency to go over the top in his aggressiveness and end up upsetting everybody. It wasn’t getting him any extra wickets either and if anything it was taking a lot of energy and focus away from his bowling.
The young man may have got a touch carried away with the media mileage he was getting with his antics and dramabaazi for that is the only way to describe it but the prolonged spell away from the team would have made him look back at his approach and introspect if it was doing him any good. The warning letter from the BCCI would have also been an eyeopener for him and it was just the shock that he needed at that time.
When a player is doing well he gets a lot of hangers on who are not his real well wishers but who are only interested in the perks of being with a known name and face and so they are hardly going to tell the player that he is not on the right track for fear of upsetting him and losing the proximity to him. This by the way is not just about cricketers but also other professions and thats why there is a sense of dread about a couple of our younger sportstars from other fields who may just be getting misled into doing things that takes away from their concentration on their sport.
Sreesanth’s bowling in the first innings was just the kind of run in and bowl hard that India needed for Ishant Shrama despite all his potential was looking just a bit jaded and perhaps a bit complacent. Sreesanth’s success should spur him on to reclaim his place in the team and start bowling teams out. What was most refreshing about Sreesanth’s success was that at no stage did he go over the top to celebrate taking every wicket and he simply folded his hands in prayer to thank the almighty for giving him another scalp. The smile after taking a wicket suits him much better than a snarl and he will win more fans with that attitude. It in no way takes away from the exuberant character that he is and hopefully he will not get misled by those who will say to him that his earlier ways were right.
Everybody makes mistakes in life and craves for the chance to remedy them and Sreesanth given a lifeline by the BCCI selectors has grasped it with both hands. There was never any doubts about his ability since nobody in recent times has bowled with a starighter seam position than he does. It was pretty much reminiscent of Kapil Dev and Sreesanth’s outswinger can be as lethal as the great man’s was, if he can get it even closer to the off stump than he is at the moment.
The Kanpur Test saw unprecedented security which while understandable after what happened to the Lankans in Lahore was still hard on genuine stakeholders in the game. The baffling bit about security in India is that the moment the last ball of the day is bowled be it a Test match or a one-day game the security personnel just disappear. It is as if now that the day’s play or the game is over their presence is no longer needed at the ground. So one sees hordes of people coming in for the presentation area and that is highly dangerous. Have a look at any presentation on an Indian ground and you will notice how many people are on the ground. It’s an Indian peculiarity and it is here that the security personnel have to be on their toes and ensure only those who are going to be on the presentation dais should be allowed to be there.
With officials and their families and retainers being around it becomes a melee which annoys the players no end and that’s why apart from the skippers of both teams and the man of the match award winner none of the other members come out of the secure dressing rooms. When a team wins, all members want to be outside to cheer each other up but on Indian grounds that does not always happen which is a pity.
Not just at the presentation but even at the start of the match there are far too many people who have no real business being out there who loiter around and maybe it is about time BCCI also has areas marked out on accrediation badges that indicate exactly which places that particular pass holder is entitled to be at. Also its important that senior security personnel are near the dressing room and ground entrance area to see that only those who have work are allowed to go on to the ground.
Richie Benaud when asked why he is never seen down at the pitch on the mornings of the match said that since he was not required to do pitch reports he wouldn’t go down there and add to the people who are at the pitch side. Many TV guys too just hang about near the pitch when they are not needed there and frankly those who do not have any work there should not even cross the boundary line and get on to the ground. That will make the security job easier and there won’t be any ugly scenes and no ego hassles either.
Let us see what the Cricket Club of India has in store when the Test there ends for if a club that prides itself on caring for the game also sees unnecessary people on the field then we may as well give up the hopes that it may get better at other venues.