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Sight Screen

Friday, July 29, 2005

Words, words...

...no matter from the heart -- wasn't that how Shakespeare once put it?
I'm not making this up. The protagonist of the story is a former Indian cricketing legend-turned-columnist/commentator. Who, during the days when I was covering cricket for Rediff, once wrote a precisely articulated column on the sheer unwisdom of dropping Abhey Kuruvilla from the national side.
It was quite a hot issue of the time -- so hot, that a bunch of former Indian cricketers based in Bombay decided to take out a protest march to the Cricket Club of India; and no, I am not making this up, either.
Cue the protagonist, whose column -- arguing the Kuruvilla-should-go case with rare conviction and signed, remember, by a man of considerable stature amongst the cricketing fraternity -- fanned the fires further.
Fast forward, to an evening a few days later -- at the CCI, a few former players, a couple of media types, two-three members of the Mumbai cricket administration and the ever-present Raj Singh Dungarpur were hanging out over a drink or three.
The conversation veered around to the Kuruvilla case, and one of those present complimented the columnist on how well he had made the case. But tell me, asked another, do you think Kuruvilla is such a good bowler?
The columnist said -- and I am still not making this up -- 'Kuruvilla? Oh, he is a wonderful bowler -- for opposing batsmen to get their eye in against.'
Hahahaha nudge nudge wink wink cheers.... The proverbial good time was had by all -- or almost all. Left a funny feeling in my gut, though.
Being able to write, they say, is a gift. Not -- that's something anyone can do. The real gift is being read. Being gifted the reader's time, his attention, his trust.
Is basic honesty not part of this covenant with the reader?
Every time I read a column authored by a cricketer, I flash back to this incident. The latest occasion being Srinath's latest column, on Rediff.
The practice of choosing a captain series by series only prevails in India. Rahul Dravid's unclear elevation to the captaincy every now and then must be playing on his mind. Rahul's role as a captain should not be taken for granted. The job description of a senior player in the long run is essential. Factoring in the role of an intermittent captain is not really ideal for Rahul's temperament. For such an intense player like Rahul, switching on and off from captaincy might not reflect well on his batting. Once the job description is clear a player can plan his cricket. It's time the Board decides the Indian captain till the World Cup.
Sri has been part of this Indian team till relatively recently; he knows Rahul well, they are friends, they talk. Much of what he has seen and heard obviously infuses his thoughts and prompts him to write this.
He is a painfully frank, honest sort of bloke -- till he picks up a pen and starts writing, which is when he gets torn between what he wants to, and what he dares to, say.
The result is a piece, like this, that sits squarely on the fence -- a very awkward place to sit, besides it being brutal on your butt.

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