'Testing' times

The God gets down low but fails to stop the ball rattle his woodwork. I felt sorry for him. Not angry.

Jadeja bowls probably the worst ball of his test debut and Trott steps out before it bounces for the third time, unperturbed how his sportsmanship will make it to the headlines and hits the ball mercilessly to the fence. I laughed it off.

It didn’t take long to realize that I have been blessed to watch one of those matches that pushed me farther from the game that I have relished watching as I endured another match that ‘test’ed my patience true to its name and nature. If you are still guessing, I sat aimlessly through five days of the last test of the recent tour of England. I would tune in before the players made their way into the middle and lie on the couch no better than a person in coma, either too lazy to move or too optimistic that something interesting shall happen. It was just one of those episodes that teach you how cruel time can be and to move on before it strikes you that you have ruined thirty hours of your life.

But no, I haven’t been thinking why MSD is failing to reproduce the magic that gave us a World cup and the numero uno ranking not so long ago. I was neither bothered about what the selectors plan to do with Sachin or Sehwag nor alarmed at the appalling display put by a young team that was hailed to carry Indian cricket forward. These doubts were not meant to whet my desire for the game. They couldn’t be answered by the seasoned, let alone me. But I couldn’t be sure what is it that is bringing fans into the streets like the pied piper did with the rats. Why are they burning Dhoni’s cut-outs and yelling hard at the senseless questions the jobless media keeps asking them? These Ghajnis have forgotten the glory the Indian team was basking in under his reign. And no people, Dhoni doesn’t play alone. There are ten more people who are eligible to share the blame. Have you seen how his hair has gotten grey failing to figure out how he can lead the team better?

Every day millions of people play the game trying to emulate their idols. They hate to lose. Thousands of students at their academies work on their technique, to improve and make it to the listed teams. They hate to fail. Hundreds of domestic cricketers expend their sweat and time only to lay hands on the cap that represents the highest and most competent level of cricket. They hate to fall. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what it would mean being at the top of the ladder. There is nowhere to go beyond as there always are snakes to swallow you and throw you at square one. Do we expect such players to go out in 35 degrees while the world is watching you and willingly underperform? It is so easy we neglect the travail that has put them there. Why not? We never know what playing for India would be like. All we wish for is pure entertainment. This doesn’t come as a surprise as we’ve managed to keep Rekha evergreen but have killed Anna Hazare as soon as he become too trite to stick with.

Will Sehwag bat longer if we answer a pointless poll? If yes, I’d answer hundreds of them.

Will Sachin start hitting centuries if media cries out at his retirement? If yes, he would have started doing so by now.

Will India start winning if we start throwing chappals at their cut-outs? If yes, I shall shop for footwear.

True that cricket gels together a country with many religions and hundreds of languages. But let it not be confined to the better times. This is the moment we need to stand up for our team and back them. There is less chance we could have a constructive influence on the players but can affect them destructively. We can’t go by the commentators and their curses as they are paid to do what they are doing. Let us treat cricket the same way we treat a horoscope in the newspaper; believe and stay blissful when it reads sweet and sound; laugh it off and hope the next day is better when it sounds sullen or ominous. Let us believe we shall get out of this nightmare soon and do not waste your precious time on what the media or their ‘experts’ have to pour out. Cricket comes to their rescue when they are in need of something sensational enough to run the reel for a few days.

If we have anything to offer the team, it is our faith in these testing times.


  1. I absolutely agree with you. This is the time when the team needs us most. Those who are true believers stick to the team in rough patches and through time and tide, they are not fickle. That is what differentiates them from the public.

  2. Manoj agree with most of your statements but not the one which was spoken on dhoni's behalf.
    Soumabha, When India won it's first ever t20 world cup in 2007 who got most of the praises? While in 2011 world cup victory who came under the limelight?
    if i am not wrong Yuvraj was the man of the series on both the occasion and Gautam the master class behind him...but everybody praised Dhoni...if being a caption you are there to take all the glory than you have to accept your failures also...
    What did Sourav do when he was sacked? team wasn't in such a position that time also as it came fresh from a series win over Zimbabwe early in 2004. Sourav was dropped owing to his personal form which was some where in low 30's...he got all the criticism...now when India is at the lowest point of their cricketing history and dhoni couldn't even score at an average of 30 for the last 16 months...why shouldn't he be not sacked?
    i too agree with you team should stick in rough situations but when you hear from a captain after losing Mumbai test...'we want more spinning tracks' and after the loss at kolkata...his statement would be something like this...'i couldn't play in kolkata as it's Ganguly's hometown'.

    Sorry but i feel...if India needs to improve on it's performance...India should give chance to youngsters...Dhoni has had enough cake by his side...now it's time we should look forward and move up from petty politics from Indian Cricket which prevented Dhoni's sacking after the Series loss in Australia...!!!

    1. Very True Anjan, I am in no way telling Dhoni is our best captain, it goes against my spirit of being a bong ( True bengalis support Dada). Dhoni has given us many wins but has proved to be an unsuccessful captain on many occasions.Also being patronised by Srinivasan and the Indian public imbibes a wrong sense of confidence which is not good for the sport. But remembering the last test, he did give chance to Jadeja and Chawla which proves that he does try out youngsters and still is a captain material.

    2. I am not a Bengali...I am an Indian first than anything else...and whatever i wrote i wrote from an Indian point of view...if i would have written from a Bengali view my words would have been more harsh...!!!

      Talking About Captaincy...Dropping Harbhajan after only one Test...was a good captaincy...in the 2 top tests before Yuvraj was dropped he averaged better than Dhoni...on the 4th morning of Nagpur test when idia desperately needed wicket...his field placings were as if he was playing for a draw. if you tell me Dhoni is not responsible for Harbhajan and Yuvraj's dropouts....i won't believe...After the loss at Kolkata Dhoni's back was already on the wall...and talking about picking a team for Nagpur test...India needed 2 pacers and not 4 spinners...playing 11 is chosen by Captain and if you call picking up Chawla and Jadeja a good captain ship i would suggest...Dhoni should let Ashwin ahead of him if he still finds himself in the playing 11.

    3. I never suggested you are a bong, but I am and it is my birthright (I don't know why but it is) to support Ganguly.

      Getting back to captaincy, Yuvraj wasn't performing and when a good captain is desperate for a win, he turns to his maybe performing reserves. And why would you say Jadeja and Chawla weren't good picks. They picked up quite a few crucial wickets in the first innings... Dropping Harbhajan was rash and Dhoni is a bit defensive minded but I can't attribute the test series loss only to him. What were the other nine (I think Ashwin has spoken for himself) doing?

      If anything the test series loss is the team's fault, you can just maybe blame Dhoni for giving silly excuses.

    4. Couldn't agree more anjan.....but u hav to understabd that my criticism is aimed at the fickle minded media and am reiterating that dhoni alone can't share the blame for the slump. Thanks for readong btw

    5. I am not asking Dhoni to take the share i am asking him not give excuses for the loss....and if a captain doesn't take the entire responsibility than i suppose... India will never reach to the top again...!!!

    6. Soumabha...i am Bengali by birth but that's not the identity i want to be known for...I am indian first than anything else...

      Yuvraj wasn't performing and Dhoni was performing...is this what want to convey?
      playing 4 spinners and only a pacer is never a good captain ship...it reminded me of the 2004 test loss against the South africa in nagpur itself...where india had only 1 pacer and india lost the test as they were ruined in for the lack of Pace..
      Dhoni's Captain ship was the worst as he couldn't even learn from the earlier defeat at the same venue 8 years back(SA)... !!!
      seeing the performance of Ishant and James Anderson...in nagpur taking wickets is never the point to argue winning a test match is...and change of one bowler...could change the entire test match...which was proved by England when they took Panesar ahead of Bresnan in Mumbai...forget about 8 year back story Dhoni...couldn't even learn from the previous loss in Mumbai...(if 3 spinners aren't able to win a test for you picking up 4 spinner is useless)...!!!

    7. Yes I understand, you being a bengali in Kolkata might not find anything out of the ordinary, but as I live in Hyderabad, being an outside bong makes me wanna swell with pride that we had a captain like Ganguly.

      Back to the topic, yes Yuvraj wasn't performing and Dhoni contributed MORE than Yuvraj.

      Well I don't recall the 2004 match, but I must say that in this match I felt that it was the right team. Ishant took 3 wickets and the spinners Jadeja, Ojha, Chawla and Ashwin picked up the others. This test gave us a draw whereas the previous matches with 3 spinners yielded a loss. So I call that an improvement.

    8. Well i have lived all my life outside West Bengal...and it's only a year or too i am living here in Kolkata...so for me being an Indian is the first moto than being a Bengali...i strongly feel unless and untill we move over with our petty regionalism...we cannot count Our self as a part of a country...and this the reason why Biharis are not welcomed in Maharastra...and the recent violence in Assam...I have always from my birth...stated i am an Indian first than a Bengali...and even i wanted take over my surname and Replace with Indian...but i couldn't do so...when people don't change with their own mentality...nothing will change...to change a nation you have to change yourself first...!!!

      i can see a strong favoritism towards Dhoni...Dhoni being a captain and Yuvraj returning from an Life threatening Disease and performing at (yuvraj score before he was dropped 74,0,8 avg 27.33 and dhoni's score (5,29,6 avg 13.33 from the first two test )...No Dhoni didn't perform even at par with Yuvrav moreover he couldn't score even half the runs as yuvraj did but yuvraj was droped and you hail Dhoni.. i would prefer dropping Dhoni first...than anybody else.

      I don't know how much you understand Cricket(not talking about Watching) picking up 4 spinners in Nagpur test is the main reason for India's Draw. 2 pacers and 3 front line spinner would yield in a better result...(have lived in nagpur and played there for 4 years..)
      about selection of the team you can confirm my point from well known sportsperson or even present selector...(Sunil Gavaskar,Kris Srikant, Sports Generalist Boria Majumdar, Deep DasGpta, Navjot singh Siddhu and there are many more)
      playing 3 spinners gave us a draw ???...no my friend...playing 4 spinners which suited pacers more gave a draw where a victory was possible.
      are you comparing 1 pacer with that of 4 spinners...ok let's go by your way...14 wickets fell for England 10 in 1st inning and 4 in 2nd ..and Ishant being the only pacer took 3 pacers with no support of pace from other side...we know it very well to be effective we need support from both the sides...and Ishant was the lone warrior...3 out of 14 gives 4.66 and rest 4 spinner took 11 wicket that is 2.75 per bowler
      you still say...4 spinner gave us a draw...if yes..i have nothing more to say...!!!

    9. Yuvraj has no right to play the life-threatening disease affected card. If he is unwell he can rest and not play. The important thing was Dhoni scored a 50 and a 99 in the later tests when the other batsmen didn't perform. I also see you ignored the Tendulkar issue , if you are so bothered about batting forms shouldn't Tendulkar be droppped also?

      Another reason why Dhoni should and Yuvraj might not be in the team is Dhoni led our team to victory in the first test. Whatever hi smethods might have been a victory is a victory. A captain who performed by getting us the victory and a batsman who scored badly.i think you have the comparison.

      You are right I am totally ignorant about cricket but what I understand is logic and it is not logical to drop Dhoni for a bad spell of captainship. You are talking abt time after 4th test and I was talking abt before when the actual selections were made and it was then that it was decided abt spinners and pacers. The 2 pacers - Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma took 2 wickets out of the 13 that well.. I leave you with the maths.

    10. For your Information Yuvraj is perfectly fine now...and i believe he is in better form than Dhoni...but he wasn't given a chance to play in Kolkata or in Nagpur..making 52 and 99 doesn't prove you are capable captain...in 7 seven innings at home. i have stated about sachin...
      India Won first test...don't you think yuvraj had the role to play in that match...his 74 is of more importance... that gave us the win.

      Kolkata...test India played 2 spinners where it should have played 3 ...in Nagpur they chose Awana...and Dinda served the benches all the 4 tests wasn't even considered...to play...yes dropping Zaheer was the right thing...dropping Harbhajan after only one test...shows the faith of captain on him...picking up 11 from 14 is captain right and if you are taking about the statistics after the selection i feel Dhoni is the one who is responsible for loss at Kolkata and draw at Nagpur.
      not picking up the right team...yes he is responsible.

    11. I know Yuvi is fine, my sentence should have read "You have no right to play the life threatening card for Yuvraj". Also because of the loss in the 2nd test the team needed a change, Dhoni had done his captaincy well 50/50 1 loss and 1 win, Openers and Pujara are out of question, that leaves Yuvraj and Sachin.. and we all know the answer to that question.

      let us play it by Maths - If yuvraj would have played in the next 2 games he would have avgd about 27.3 like his previous stats but Dhoni surprised every1 by avging 40+. so I'll call that a risk well taken. Maybe not right but well taken.

  3. sorry for few typo errors...
    *2 top should have been first 2
    *idia is India
    And my last sentence was Dhoni should let Ashwin bat ahead of him if he still finds himself in the playing 11. As for the past 16 months he has proved he can neither play fast bouncy pitches in Australia or England nor is he capable of playing Slow turning tracks of India...yes Dhoni Scored 99 but...on the 3rd day of Nagpur pitch which was already showed signs of belter as it was flat track...as it was neither spinning nor provided any assistance to pacers...!!!

    1. But he did score a 99 when the top order failed...

    2. That's not the excuse for 16 months of poor captaincy and miserable batting form...Yuvraj also scored 76 in 1st test why was he dropped then?

    3. Judging by only 16 months of bad captaincy is a bit harsh I think.. Dhoni is just 2 test wins away from crossing Ganguly as the most successful captain. And if we are judging by 16 months of form and average, why don't we drop Tendulkar along with Dhoni too !!!

      Also Dhoni has scored 2 fifties and has an average of 31 whereas Yuvraj has an average of 25. The only batsmen below Yuvraj is Jadeja and Tendulkar. We can't really drop Jadeja as he compensated with wickets and as Tendulkar is god he can't be dropped too. So well who does that leave out?

    4. Judging by 16 month wasn't a proof than tell me how many months did Dravid captain India or in that matter Kumble captained India before they were ripped off with their captaincy...losing 4-0 in Australia, 4-0 in England and then losing at home after 28 years...2-1 to england doesn't open a cricket lovers eyes...than i suppose...one should go back to sleep.
      Ganguly won outside India...ok...and please don't tell those crap...Ganguly never lost a series at home...

      Being a premier established batsman and a captain...you score 2 fifties at 31 avg in home condition losing a test series after 28 years to England and blaming the team :bowler didn't bowl well, batsman didn't bat..there are 10 other player except me...and bla bla.. moreover i was the captain...is an achievement right?

      learn from Australia,Srilanka or even South Africa...even one series went wrong the captain takes the entire responsibility and steps down...and Dhoni has the achievement of doing it in Australia, in England and now in India...if Captain doesn't take the entire blame on his shoulders...than whom would you blame? i suppose spectators...!!!

      i have not spoken a word for Sachin till now...and i don't want to comment on him either...as per cricket i believe the rules should be same for everyone...whether you are a legend or a new comer...Ricky Ponting who won 2 world cups and reigned Austrlia for almost a decade was dropped...!!!

    5. I don't know why Dravid or Kumble was stripped from captaincy, but it was not right...

      India has tasted a record 21 triumphs (11 abroad) under Ganguly in 49 Tests. At the end of the series against the English, Dhoni's score is 20 victories (5 overseas) in 44 Tests. So Ganguly is a better away captain but Dhoni has won more matches at home. Now this is a pointer to his being a good captain but right now things are just not right for him. Give him some more chanceand then maybe he shall stepdown on his own. And I still maintain that it is the full team's fault but Dhoni being the leader and captain should bear the brunt as a true leader would do. In this scenario i have always admired Ganguly who has taken responsibility. Even in the 2003 world cup final when the youngsters were too enthused ( especially Zaheer) Ganguly didn't blame it on anyone and bore the entire blame.

  4. Well i think it's just a game.. lets not take it seriously , there are many more imp. issues that deserve more discussion and debate..!

    1. I agree mate there are many more Important Issues than cricket so here i am surrendering myself to whatever others have to say i have spoken what i should...!!!

    2. It was fun debating with you Anjan, I guess I have a lot of things to learn and no hard feelings from my side. *peace* \m/

    3. Soumabha...it was a nice debate...i spoke about cricket probably after 4-5 years...

      on a lighter note:
      am not a violent person...yeah...no hard feelings mate...let peace prevail... \m/


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