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27/03/2007

Letís play Ludo

Santosh

This is certainly not to add proverbial salt to your injuries. After all, we are yet to recover from India’s early (I won’t say shocking) exit from the world cup.

I am not here to bore the shit out of you, either. As a cricket-watcher (again, I hold the term LOVER) since I was just 10, I just want to share it with you and have a cumulative feeling of unburdening.

Like most of you, I have seen it all, jumping in joy, crying in agony and just not expressing. But now after watching cricket for almost 25 years, I have in a way(like most of you) have become a kind of stoic. An Indian victory or defeat does not surprise me. I am surely happy about India winning it but do not go ga-ga over it.

I have an idea. You may call it weird and call me flippant and react with “Very Funnny”.

Can we play Ludo now because the game is not about competence and consistency? What you have to do is to throw the dice praying for desired numbers. It will not need a Greg Chappel to coach you. You can just ask your grand dads and moms to help in casting the dice. Even when you lose, you can safely say“I was not just lucky”.

Another great benefit of Ludo is that you do not need physical fitness. Rather, you can flaunt your paunches(sorry Romesh Powar and Veeru) to bully the opposition. You do not have to dive on those hard surfaces. You can also play your AC on.

Ludo is a total injury-free game. No trip to South Africa or England for thoseshoulder and Tennis elbow surgeries.

Ludo is a cost-effective game.The Entire India can play it together and cheer each other. Plastic coated one is a bit costlier.

But there is no national and international championship (anybody can correct me) in this game. But there is no reason to worry as we can ask our sport s minister to recognize the game and ask other teams to play it. Then, we can have a ludo world cup. We can engage tarrot card players and hold yagnas.

As it is about pure luck, we can arrange puja-path and yagnas to succeed. It may work for ludo. As for cricket, it has become yagna-resistant now as mosquitoes to repellants.

Just in case, where have all the tarrot card experts gone? Hole them out for those semi-final and final predictions. At least, they should return their heavy payments to TV channels.

By now, you must be seething in angerfor my well-intended derision of India’s exit from the World Cup. Tellme, what should I do?

I too, have added extra minus power to my specs like many of you watching the game over the years. I too, have skipped breakfast and lunch listening to radio commentaries or watching the game. If I was not dubbed as mama’s boy, it is only because of cricket.

Let me start it Sachin The Great. Statistics say he has compiled 14,800 plus runs in one-day matches and 10,000 plus in test matches. Great!!!

But can you remind me five games he has helped India win chasing a target? His back-to-back centuries in Sharjah Cupagainst Australia are probably the best I could recall.

His 65 against Sri Lanka in 1996 World Cup semi-final at Kolkata (remember Kambli breaking down and Jaysurya digging an Indian grave) was surely agreat effort. His 137 against Pakistan at Chennai chasing a target would have best had he taken India to victory. India had lost the test match by 12 runs. It was great (this time I mean the adjective letter for letter) Anil Kumble who spun a magic spell and by scalping all 10 Pakwickets at Kotla. India won by 212 runs. But you still did not have Kumle posters in markets.

Sachin is a choker. He is about individual brilliance and player of comfort zone. It is a cruel joke that he is not associated with any of great Indian wins. Kolkta test, that was later declared Wisdon match of the century), was about VVS Laxman (281) andRahul Dravid (180) and Net-west tropy was about Yuvraj and Kaif. It is an irony that Kaif and Laxman are out of reckoning. No matter they are not playing, they will be remembered for a long time. Probably, I will tell the stories to my grandchildren.

Why on earth will people call you GREAT when you do not play in pressure-games? Sachin had scored 673in 2003 World Cup, a record total. But in the finals against Australia,he just scored 4 and gave his wicket to Glenn Mcgrath (If I remember correctly). When it comes to deliver, Sachin has failed himself and usmost times.

Experts say Steve Waugh just had eight shots to play.Maybe true. But he did take the rest unplayable shots on his body.That’s why he is great. Ricky Ponting may be arrogant but he very often backs his arrogance. Brian Lara, Inzamam, S Fleming, Jacques Kallis,Rahul Dravid and even maligned Saurav have won us many matches.

Juststop saying Sachin carries the burden of 100 million people on his backand hence, he had back problem (bad joke, I know). If cricket has watched his individual brilliance, it has also watched his great fall against Shoab and Asif. Can you tell me when he whipped Shaun Pollock,Glenn McGrath, Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vass. He did succeed against great Shane Warne. But that was it.

But one can again argue why I am venting my anger on Sachin. It is all because you call him “great” for all those data.

Experts have also called the Indian batting line-up the best. Yes, it does look so on paper. But they have seldom delivered.Dravid, who has delivered up to expectation minus some recent debacles,has not got his due. Saurav might not have played great innings during latter part of his captaincy, his recent resurgence does show his drive and commitment. He is the one who helped us chase 300 plus target forthe first time in best of three finals with his 125. Sachin did score 65 in that decisive final.

M S Dhoni, who was touted as a man to watch,also fizzled out. I just learnt that he paid about Rs 3 crore as income tax. Fans also blame it on his hair and “hairy” products heendorses.

I believe India is the most inconsistent team in the world.Just as it can score 413, it can score 113 in another match.

A word about Indian bowling: People have more often than not blamed the lackluster bowling for debacle. But I bet, it is the batting that hasfailed us 7 out of 10 times.

There has been also talk about “pitchbecoming slow” become India has a poor run-rate. Our former crickets arevery often able to convince us as well. But I want to ask them, why the pitch has never become slow when Australia bats. Rather, it gets fast.

So that slowness is a mental state. Just say that we are notgood enough, not up to standard. And why on earth, Australia does not have too many “bad days in office”? Even when they have bad days, they score 300 plus. It was Newzealand that played extraordinary cricket to white wash Australia just before WC.

Ramchandra Guha had once told me that Sri Lanka won 1996 World Cup only because all its big guns –Jayasurya, Arvinda, Kalu, Murli and Vaas – fired together. We too, have great names in present teams. But our guns seldom fire together. The result is before all of us.

I am not concerned about market loss and marauded Indian hopes. It is about playing good and competitive cricket.It is time for BCCI to do at least one thing. Please introduce a performance-oriented system. At least, that can drive a player to focus more on the game.

Forget “Oo Ah India”. Just do it for yourself, man.We will be happy. We are hurt because you represent a country of non-achievers in games and sports. Because you alone are responsible for making many of us forget what our national game is.

 


 

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