His bat has spoken

This piece was written on the 10th December at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai

His bat has spoken

“If the ball is doing something, then you‘ve got to fight it out- its about having resolve and showing character.”

Sourav Ganguly in an interview with Lokendra Pratap Sahi ,The Telegraph ,9 th December 2007.

“It is great fun to play with Sourav because he is also an attacking player. Batting with the man who had supported me so much in the past always generates fun and excitement.”

Yuvraj Singh in an interview with The Telegraph ,9th December 2007

The cricket test was a phrase coined by Norman Tebbit i referring to supposedly questionable loyalties of immigrants to the United Kingdom in 1990. It is also known as the Tebbit test.

During the 1980s and 1990s there was a perception in parts of the UK that some immigrants to the UK did not have a primary loyalty to the UK, but continued to identify with their countries of origin. The most infamous expression of this was made by conservative politician Norman Tebbit in an interview with the LA Times He said: "A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?"[1]


There was a time when cricket was a game of decent gentlemen and politics was described by Samuel Johnson “as the last refuge of scoundrels”. The two games were played by different sets of people who were mutually exclusive. But the Chinese walls between the two soon began to crumble. The Conservative politician Norman Tebbit, suspected the “patriotism” of the sub-continental immigrants and accused them of not passing the “cricket test”. Does a UK citizen of Pakistani or Indian origin support England when his country of origin plays against his country of choice? He doubted.

In last decade , Cricket has became enormously popular in the sub-continent and, thanks to Bukhatir, in the Gulf. There is too much money, clout and leverage associated with the game .This has attracted political heavyweights and other sharks.

In the late 1990’s Sourav emerged as the new face of India’s cricket. He was a superb cricketer and captain on the field .He holds the Indian captaincy record for most Test victories (21).He was an articulate, intelligent and charismatic leader. He took no nonsense on or off the field and put the arrogant colonial-types in their place. For the first time, the Indian team played on equal terms and held its head high.This was also the time when the Indian IT industry became globally competitive and the Indian economy threw off its Hindu rate of growth and accelerated its pace of development.

But an unfortunate combination of politics, bad luck and dirty tricks altered the trajectory of this great player and captain’s career. Sourav was caught in the cross-fire between two veterans-the crusty politician of cricket Shri Jagmohan Dalmia and the veteran politician and cricket rookie from Mumbai Shri Sharad Pawar. From the shadows of the battle of two heavy weights emerged the clown-villain Greg Chappell as the coach of the Indian cricket team- the man whose rude finger gesture to Calcutta cricket fans demonstrated his lack of breeding. .

The last thing Sourav was good at was sycophancy. Greg wanted to mould his own man and “ drive change”. For this, Sourav would have been the most unlikely choice. The tiger from Bengal refused to be cowered by the electric whip of the latest clown who masqueraded as the new ringmaster of the circus.

That started a sordid battle that included innuendos, insinuations, gossips, leaked e-mails, distorted reports of conversations and plain lies. The dirty tricks department of Sourav’s enemies and detractors who were fighting behind veils and cloaks were firing on all cylinders.

What went against Sourav was also the crab mentality of Indians some of whom switched sides and regaled in Sourav's fall from grace. Sourav was unceremoniously dropped from the captaincy and then the team in 2006 with little protest from his team members. He grit his teeth, steered away from controversies, focused on training and waited for a comeback. It must have been frustrating and demoralizing for him. Like Manik Bandyopadhyay’s weaver whose fingers ached when he was not allowed to weave or Ritwick Ghatak who was not allowed to make a film. He did not speak to the media or to his fans in the steely resolve and belief that one day his bat will.

He returned to the team in November 2006.

Today to the thunderous silence of his enemies and detractors he has cracked a double century ---a score of 239 , close on the heels of his brilliant century in Eden Gardens. Where are the clown and the joker? The joker is on his infamous journey from disrepute to ignominy and the clown has ridden into his sunset from obscurity to oblivion. For them Karl Marx’s observation is apt : history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce.

As Sourav’s bat went into action ---all guns blazing ---dancing the tandava against the Pakistan cricket team - everyone was in violent agreement that Sourav’s bat has spoken---eloquently, rewriting records and consigning his enemies and detractors permanently into the dung heap of history.

Greg Chappell resigns after the Indian debacle

After 22 tumultuous months, Greg Chappell, the coach of Indian cricket team quit the post on Wednesday.The former Australia Captain had taken up the assignment of coaching a talented yet misfiring Indian Cricket Team two years ago. Chappell took over in May 2005 from New Zealander John Wright, who served successfully as the country's first foreign coach for almost five years. The players always resisted the 58-year-old's experimentation policy and he was blamed for a divide in the team and for India's first-round World Cup exit in the Caribbean. He handed in his notice two days before the Indian board meet to delve into the World Cup debacle.

Chappell's tenure will always be remembered for personality clashes with two of the country's most successful cricketers. Four months into his new job, the former South Australia coach was involved in a public spat with then-captain Sourav Ganguly over a leaked e-mail that eventually led to the Bengal left-hander's sacking. On Wednesday, little master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, himself considered the god of cricket in this nation obsessed with the game, reacted angrily at suggestions that Chappell had questioned the attitude of senior players at the World Cup.

Between the two incidents, both of which turned into raging national debates, Chappell moved from one media-fuelled controversy to another. Images of Chappell making a rude finger gesture towards fans in Kolkata protesting at Ganguly being dropped from the team in November 2005 was splashed all over the country angering fans as well as politicians. He was censured by the BCCI for the incident. However the team had started a successful run, notching up a record 17 consecutive one-day victories when batting second. This was enough to pacify some of his detractors. The inability of the team to progress beyond the group stage as hosts in the Champions Trophy last year and India's shock exit in the Caribbean World Cup proved to be the final straw.

In Wednesday's statement, Chappell thanked the BCCI for the coaching opportunity and said: "It is, and it remains, one of the most challenging coaching positions in world cricket." The post is both high profile and highly lucrative with the country considered to be the corporate centre of the game.

But this also has its flipside as Chappell witnessed during his tenure. The weight of expectation in the billion-plus populated country where cricket is a religion can be unnerving. The national cricket team is always under the spotlight and their every move documented on and off the field. It has given rise to controversies and debates off the field and hopefully something constructive has to evolve to learn and unlearn the lessons of India's world cup debacle.





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