Reacting with ardour

Ravichandran Ashwin, sometimes, can ruffle a few feathers with his comments, but the immensely self-confident young man is not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for his team-mates.

Ravichandran Ashwin not only won the International Cricketer of the Year and the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year awards, but also captured the hearts of millions of cricket lovers with his tweet that said March 30 will now be known as ‘world apology day’.

Ashwin, sometimes, can ruffle a few feathers with his comments, but the immensely self-confident young man is not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for his team-mates. These are qualities only those who have been in the hurly-burly of a Test battle and are aware of the dressing room psyche can understand and appreciate. By standing up for his skipper, Ashwin has shown that this Indian team is not going to take a backward step against the opposition and will look them in the eye. Ashwin was bowling the ‘flicker’ or the ‘carrom ball’ as if he were flicking an annoying piece of fluff, and the fluff was Brad Hodge.

Hodge, looking to get some brownie points in Australia, had questioned Virat Kohli’s decision to sit out the final Test because of the shoulder injury the Indian captain had suffered in the previous Test in Ranchi. Little did he envisage that his comments, which he thought were for local consumption in Australia, would get back to India. With the Australian media and some former players gunning for Kohli, Hodge thought that it would boost his chances of some position in Australian cricket if he also joined the chorus.

Kohli, of course, chuckled at the whole thing, knowing that he has won more matches for India than Hodge had played for Australia, and to pay heed to some ‘lukdu’ (insignificant) former player is a waste of time. Of course, the Indian public that loves Kohli and is fully aware of his commitment to the team’s cause was not going to take it lying down. So Hodge had to back pedal after the backlash and say sorry, although he tried to make it out that it was a light-hearted comment. Brainless was the more apt word, for if he even knew a bit of what Kohli is made of Hodge would not have even uttered the words that he did.

Disappointingly, no action was taken against him by his franchise, who should have sacked him on the spot for questioning the Indian captain’s commitment to his country.

Unfortunately, even 70 years after Independence, and with India winning honours in the cricketing world from the mid-1960s, there are many who feel that only overseas players can lead or coach Indian teams. Anil Kumble’s success as a coach will hopefully send a message that the time has come to look at Indian managers, as they know more about the local talent than the overpaid coaches from abroad.

Look at the teams around and you will find that apart from Punjab, all others have overseas coaches. Of course, there are great overseas coaches too, but how many non-Australian coaches are there for the Big Bash in Australia? So why should India also not have more Indian coaches or assistant coaches?

It is good to see J. Arun Kumar and Sitanshu Kotak as assistant coaches. They are the salt of the earth Indian cricketers who strove mightily for their Ranji Trophy sides and who, thus, know more about young Indian players than the guys from abroad coming for just a week before the Indian Premier League starts. Most of the overseas guys get their own countrymen as physios or some such designated support staff. This is mainly to have a beer in the evenings and for a round of golf on off days.

Last year, Kolkata had Mark Boucher as the wicket-keeping consultant. A wicket-keeping consultant for two wicket-keepers in the squad? What a joke!

Boucher is a close friend of Jacques Kallis, the coach, and clearly Kallis wanted some company and persuaded the bosses to bring his good pal over as wicket-keeping consultant. Amazingly, they agreed which again tells you a thing or two about our complexes.

Be that as it may, the Indian Premier League, which is into its 10th year, promises to be a humdinger again. The new cycle starts from next year and hopefully the IPL will be more Indian than it is at the moment.