Let us not make comparisons

Published : Oct 04, 2003 00:00 IST

AMONG the many things famous fathers bequeath their sons is the weight, or indeed, the burden of the name they carry.


AMONG the many things famous fathers bequeath their sons is the weight, or indeed, the burden of the name they carry. Strong men have borne it stoically, others have wilted, unable to resolve the constant debate they have with themselves on the worthiness of their craft. Some choose to walk away opting to become accountants rather than cricketers. Only in the brazen world of politics does it seem to be a genuine qualification to have a successful father, and even there definitions of "success" vary wildly!

Rohan Gavaskar could write a book about it and a foreword by Abhishek Bachchan would be appropriate. They are known to be friends though I suspect the careers of their fathers would be the least favoured topic of discussion. Both have carried themselves with remarkable patience and if they have been frustrated, they haven't shown it. It suggests good upbringing. The least we can do is to stop making comparisons all the time. It was very disappointing therefore to see the controversy created over Rohan's inclusion in the Rest of India side. I have often wondered why, if two people have different points of view, it must add up to a controversy. Nari Contractor is a respected man, known to be outspoken, and someone whose views I have always paused to listen to. He was perfectly entitled to his opinion just as the selectors were to theirs. And remember his initial comments were made in a private party, not for you and me to listen to.

The matter should have ended there but by splashing it all over the papers, seeking comments from people who could never be purely unbiased observers, and who would love to be seen to be taking sides, we have put a lot of unnecessary pressure on Rohan Gavaskar. He was probably lucky to make the India `A' and Rest of India sides but people have been luckier before and to grudge a man his luck is a very poor way to live life. Don't forget, when a man is lucky we notice it, when fortune looks the other way when it shouldn't have, we don't say a word.

Sriram might have made the Rest of India side instead of him, Hemang Badani might have as well. It didn't really matter because neither was going to get a game and by putting Rohan in (see how tough it is to say `Gavaskar' and mean `Rohan'!), the selectors were probably telling him that he is in their sights. And that is not a bad thing to do. Our selectors have done a wonderful job over the last two years (though picking Rakesh Patel to New Zealand came in one of their more bizarre moments!) and we need to give them some credit.

Now they need to resolve the issue of who should keep wickets in the one-day games. It is very easy to understand why Sourav Ganguly wants to continue with Rahul Dravid for he is a luxury that the team has got used to. In the absence of a genuine all-rounder, and with Ajit Agarkar at number seven the only foreseeable option, it is very tempting to stay with him. And Ganguly has a wealth of options to choose from for the seventh batsman. He quite likes the idea of playing Laxman in the top order but he has options and that is an indicator of the strength of a side. He could persist with Mongia but he could also look at the two exciting young men from Chennai, Sriram and Badani. Rohan Gavaskar would be an outside contender. It is interesting that these are very modern options for they can all bowl if needed and are brilliant in the field apart from possessing the ability to score quickly.

It is a tough call for the selectors must balance the immediate need of the team with a view to a more long-term option. I also think they need to have a chat with Dravid for a reluctant 'keeper might not be a good 'keeper! It is interesting though to read Andy Flower's views on this. He thinks being the wicketkeeper is helping Dravid bat better by picking gaps and getting an idea of how the track is playing. The numbers certainly support his theory for Dravid's batting average as a wicketkeeper is significantly higher than earlier. I suspect though that the character in Dravid and the persistence of Ganguly will ultimately resolve the issue.

Neither a cricketing debate nor a needless controversy could take away from the best domestic cricket match we have seen in India for a very long time. The very success of this match highlights the complete worthlessness of the Irani Trophy match at most other times. When the top players play against each other on a very sporting surface, everybody benefits. The Test players got the opportunity to get a serious game before the Tests, some young Mumbai players would have got to know what makes the stars so good and a young bowler like Balaji got an excellent opportunity to step up and be counted. This is the way ahead for Indian cricket but if the top players, who carry their pride with them in any situation, aren't around, the Irani Trophy becomes a poor, tame affair.

India's bowlers looked in very good touch and given that it might not have been a bad strategy to actually invite the New Zealand coach to come and take a look. I read a newspaper report, which said that we might have given away a lot of secrets. Cricket skills aren't like nuclear reactors, they can't be kept hidden and to believe that it could make a difference is to take a very defensive view of our cricket. If anything, I would have thought that watching Kumble and Harbhajan bowl on the third day he must have wondered which of his young and largely untested batsmen was going to counter them. India showed off their weapons and now the concern should be in the other camp.

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