The Cement Curse

It all started in December, when Mohinder Amarnath was shoved out of the Selection Panel. Mohinder then came out and said, the selectors wanted to change a defensive captain, Dhoni, who was also under-performing. From being the Number one Test team in the world, the Indian cricket team was sliding down under Dhoni, who just couldn't inspire anything.

Virender Sehwag played a match-winning knock against England in the Ahmedabad Test. After that, India went on to lose the Test series to England; again it was too apparent Dhoni just wasn't keen on inspiring the team. When the Aussies arrived in India for the current Test series, the new selection panel dropped Gambhir from the team. Gambhir, leading India A against the Australians, scored a hundred to prove the selectors wrong.

Dhoni's double hundred in the Chennai Test, a gift from the Aussies, who refused to attack him, paved way for India winning the first Test. Sehwag didn't click in the first or second Test; he got out to very good balls. Though Dhoni had talked about giving Sehwag a long rope (the same he had mentioned about Zaheer Khan and VVS Laxman before they were dropped), it was quite obvious what he and many other sycophants of BCCI wanted.

On March 6th, former Indian captain Rahul Dravid called for Sehwag to be dropped, not because of poor form, but he was worried who will open in South Africa. Rumours have it that Rahul Dravid is a Vice President in India Cements, BCCI Supremo Srinivasan's company. Incidentally Dhoni is also a Vice President in India Cements - which owns Chennai Super Kings. (Dhoni is the captain of both BCCI's Indian team and CSK) and a Vice President in India Cements. Talk about serious clash of interest.

Was there more Cement and less Cricket in Dravid's CricInfo byte?

"India's selectors and management must decide whether they want Virender Sehwag to open in Tests in South Africa at the end of the year, and if not, they must give someone else the opportunity to find his feet in familiar conditions, Rahul Dravid has said. The Indian selectors are due to pick the squad for the last two Tests against Australia on Thursday, but ESPNcricinfo understands no changes are expected."

This was a classic BCCI embed story; they all knew what the script was - and ESPNcricinfo understood it wrong?

On March 07th, CricInfo reported: "Virender Sehwag has been dropped from India's Test side for the first time since he made an emphatic comeback to the long format with a century in Adelaide in 2007-08. That, incidentally, remains his last century outside Asia."

I find the 'Asia' criteria very annoying. Is playing a Test match in Colombo or Galle the same as playing in Chennai or Mumbai? (we don't play in Pakistan these days). 'Inside Asia' 'Outside Asia' is merely a stats-bomb used to destroy Sehwag. So how many Tests has the India Cements Vice President and CSK captain, who leads the Indian Test team, won outside Asia in the last three years? How come Dhoni has not been dropped for losing series after series...? The answer is obvious.

Sharda Ugra, senior editor, cricinfo, wrote a piece the very same day - March 7th.

"The Indian selectors' decision to drop Virender Sehwag for the last two Tests against Australia cannot be argued with, if cricketing logic and the weight of lack of runs is applied against sentiment and possibility. Sandeep Patil's panel should be complimented for doing much of the dirty work sidestepped by the Kris Srikkanth panel that preceded it and lived off the 2011 World Cup victory for one year too long."

To her credit, Ugra has in the past, asked for Dhoni to be sacked as the India Test team captain.

Another former CricInfo editor Dileep Premachandran, who is now Editor-in-Chief of Wisden India, wrote 'a Good Riddance' piece on Sehwag (March 7th).

"Tendulkar and other greats also reinvented themselves along the way, often shelving risky strokes and fighting the urge to dominate. It was a kind of humility that paid great dividends. There were no this-is-how-I-usually-play excuses.

Sehwag, whose last innings of substance away from Asia came in Adelaide half a decade ago, has carried on regardless, to the extent that his place in the team is far from assured. Maybe the eyes have gone a little, maybe the body is faltering, but it’s also hard to escape what Chappell wrote about a man who “wants the prize, but has been unwilling to pay the price”."

Dileep tells us Sehwag is all hubris and all excuses. He too came up with the 'Asia Stats' argument. Did BCCI send a secret email to the cricket journos with the 'Asia Stats' theory?
What Guru Greg meant by the 'prize' is the India captaincy. Dileep, like a tabloid hack, put a spin on it – to suggest the 'prize' is Sehwag's batting.

Sehwag, whether you like him or hate him, has earned his stature in Indian cricket. The Dileeps of this world cannot take anything away from Sehwag; the triple hundred against Pakistan (in Pakistan) erased the six Miandad hit off Chetan Sharma. Sehwag made us proud - not once but many times.

Harsha Bhogle too wrote a piece, almost sounding like a tribute on Sehwag's final game. Harsha sneaked in the truth, which most of the readers would have missed: "There is much stacked against him (Sehwag)."

Isn't it true, there is a pile of cement bags stacked against Sehwag?

Was dropping Gambhir and Sehwag based on performance alone? Was it a message sent to Delhi (Mohinder Amarnath) from Chennai?

It is has been reported that Sehwag and Dhoni never got along too well. As the only match-winning Test batsman, Sehwag should have been handled better. As a captain, Dhoni couldn't just get the best out of Sehwag.

Bishen Singh Bedia is right when he says, the best Off Spinner in the team is Sehwag. How come Dhoni never used Sehwag as a serious bowling option? In the last over Sehwag bowled in a Test match (Ahmedabad Test), he almost got the wicket of Alistair Cook. Sehwag was never asked to bowl again. If this was done by a Pakistani skipper, there would have been cries of match-fixing.

Dhoni is exceptionally useless as a Test match captain; he has no plan at all. As he has no strategy or plan, he comes across as 'Captain Cool' to some. Look at someone like Ishant Sharma; when he is struggling – the captain doesn't even have the time to go talk to him.
When Sharma bowled that dream spell to Ponting in Australia; Dhoni was about to take him off. Sehwag grabbed the ball, rushed up to Ishant and spoke some 'special words of advice in Hindi' (could have probably included the AC/DC sounding words too!), handed the ball to Ishant and asked him to continue bowling. Ponting was dismissed in that over, probably the best over Ishant has bowled in his life. Dhoni stayed cool; he couldn't be bothered. Sehwag was never seen as proactive when India played again... whatever happened is easy to guess.

It is true Sehwag refused to be Dhoni's vice captain, it told us one thing: what Sehwag thought about Dhoni as a skipper.

Back to the now: Sunil Gavaskar, who is the official voice of the BCCI on TV, felt Sehwag should have been given a chance to play in the Mohali Test, where the conditions would have suited him to regain his form.

VVS Laxman said there was nothing wrong with Sehwag's reflexes, and felt he should have been playing in the third and fourth Tests against Australia to rediscover his form instead of being dropped midway through the series. "There should be a plan and vision for that series. When India go to South Africa, it is important to have a good mix of experience and youth. I cannot imagine an Indian team without Sehwag in those tough South African conditions. India cannot afford to go to South Africa without Sehwag."

What makes Dravid and Laxman have completely different understanding on how Indian cricket should go forward?? The only difference I can see is, Laxman is not a VP of India Cements.

1 comment :

  1. Indeed. Laxman is not a VP of India Cements