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Sight Screen

Friday, December 16, 2005

Reverse Spin

First up, a confession -- outside of not having seen what a bed looks like from 7 am yesterday morning and consequently, being now in a zombie frame of mind, I have over the last couple of days been getting more mails than I can possibly cope with.
Not cribbing -- it's fun; merely mentioning that if all your mails don't get responded it, it is not that they aren't being read; merely, that I am kind of crawling along on life support just now.
Enough preamble. Yesterday, had put up a reader letter from Shyam Shankar, that looked at the Sourav issue as a puzzle to be solved. Anirban Mukherjee mailed in a response; in fact, there are two mails in quick succession, that I'll reproduce in full here:
Read with interest the latest posting on the 'puzzle' presented to the
selectors.
2 points to make - one is that 'are there any other sports fans in
India who at least have the zeal to react the way the average Kolkata
fan is doing right now?'
The politicians, actors, limelight hoggers aside - the common man on
the street feels bad about his hero, and is lashing out. What's wrong
with that?
Secondly, the selectors did have a much larger puzzle to solve during
this time other than the 3rd test, and they blew it. Does the selection
of Yuvraj and Jaffer for 1 solitary test match outweigh the Public
Relations clout that could have been gained by quietly, honorably, and
with media-savvy, 'sheparding' Ganguly out of
the scene. Did bringing on Jaffer to sit the bench, while Gambhir is
given 1 more chance, along with Yuvraj's selection, who has another 8 - 10 years of
cricket in him, outweigh the media / fan spectacle this has become?
What experience is Wasim Jaffer exactly going to gain, especially if he
doesnt' even play the 3rd test match - 'cause one of them (Jaffer or
Gambhir) has to sit with Shewag back and
if Jaffer does play - why pick and bench Gambhir. Furthermore, would it
have killed if Yuvraj sat out 1 match, having known personally from the captain and
coach that he is the #6 man from thereon afterwards, in order to
befittingly give a send off to the man that stood by him. Would it have
been that bad to take Ganguly aside, and tell him "Look Sourav, you
know and we know things have changed. You've brought up Team India to
this level, and should be properly recognized for this - you take your
pick how you want to ease out of this - the 3rd test is your one and
only opportunity to do so. And Sourav, for the sake of your legacy, the
sanctity of this team, and much public embarrassment, utter discretion
is advised".
All for making a statement and wielding power over 1 match.
Far sighted leaders these men are.....

Which, if you notice, is akin to what Harsha is saying too, in a way -- that when you are dealing with someone who has been much, done much, contributed much (Heck, why the caveats? When you are dealing with any human being), you need -- when forced to take harsh decisions -- to temper that harshness, to give the person concerned an opportunity to walk out with head held high. It is called respect, a recognition of a human being's right to his dignity.
We talk so much of 'traditional Indian values' (Oh, no, you can't kiss on Valentine's Day, it is against 'traditional Indian values') -- this is among the foremost of them; it is a pity it was so completely misplaced in the present instance.
Also from Anirban:
You know, there comes a time when you see or hear something funny, and start laughing, and in the middle of your laughter, something else 'funnier' happens, and you possibly can't laugh any harder. Such is the case with the "Sourav Rehabilitation".
Axe him without reason, get your effigy burned, get some calls from some high-ups, and voila, consider putting him back on the team. Thought this was the BCCI, turns out to be Comedy Central.
At any rate, been thinking about "What's next" - since the Exit Strategy for Ganguly has been mucked up so badly. But For Better of For Worse, a decision was made, no going back now. A befitting solution would be this - let him score his boatload of runs in domestic cricket, but decide right now that he is going to be on the squad for the next Australia series, whenever or wherever that may be. Dub it his "Farewell Tour" and let him get the accolades he deserves, and move on.
The other thing is this - in the early stages of a new organization like this, and since this issue did happend, Pawar is in an unique position to 'set the boat right' so to speak.
I'm not talking of an intervening for an individual player or so on and so forth - but since the new board and selectors are given the mandate for the future of Team India, this would be a very good time to publicly acknowledge and set the plans in motion to ensure that the board and the selectors do have Exit Strategies for the players, and spend time and effort on these strategies as much as they do for bringing players into the fold. So Ganguly's exit today is mangled, but eventually Kumble, Laxman, Dravid, Tendulkar will all need to be handled, in some way shape or form. Is it appropriate to only single out one or two of these players for recognition for their services versus the others?
Without transparency, perception is reality....

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