Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Future rewards

Dear MS Dhoni,

Things are not as dire as they may seem. This Indian team reached the #1 ranking over a period of time. You may have lost consecutive Tests to start a series for the first time ever, but fret not, you are still India's best option as a captain. Just as you did not become a splendid captain overnight, you did not become a horrible one in the span of two Tests either.

The Bell run-out fiasco is done and dusted with. However, there is one unintended consequence that will play into your hands as the series progresses. By invoking the nebulous "Spirit of Cricket", the two Andys may have put you in a bind but in the long term it is going to come back to haunt them. Can you imagine the furore the next time they are in a position where they have to uphold the "Spirit of Cricket" and fail to do it? The media will be more than happy to pull them up for their double standards. In time, this decision will reap its rewards. For the rest of their career, Strauss and Flower will have this millstone hanging around their neck. After all, they instigated the whole thing by knocking on your door at tea time.

Ricky Ponting had long advocated taking a fielder's word for contentious catches and the Sydney Test marked the beginning of the end of his captaincy because Clarke and Ponting himself claimed catches that had clearly not been cleanly taken. On top of it Symonds stayed put on a sharp edge to the keeper and Clarke did not walk when a catch was taken at first slip. After that, no matter how hoarse he got from the shouting, Ponting could never seriously convince any captain to adhere to the "Spirit of Cricket". Ironically, Andrew Strauss was the last person to feel Ponting's wrath for not sticking to the "Spirit of Cricket" for his time-wasting tactics and liberal use of substitutes.

Moving on, by luck (or curious coincidence?) Harbhajan Singh is not going to play the last two Test matches because of an injury. Like Shoaib Akhtar a few years ago, Economy Singh seemed unencumbered by his "side strain" when he was batting. (Yes, yes, you use different muscles to bat and bowl and all that jazz, I know). Anyway, if he really is injured, it is a blessing in disguise. Let alone not take wickets, the dude was unable to even live up to his Economy Singh moniker. What use is that?

You have to decide between Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha to replace Economy. The former has taken 40 wickets in 11 Tests while the latter has taken 42 wickets in 11 Tests. Not much to choose from there. I am sure you will go with Amit Mishra because the dude can hit a few runs. I am slightly biased in favor of Ojha but whomsoever you take it will not matter to me because it is, at best, a punt. What Ojha gets you in accuracy, Mishra gets you in the increased potential of bowling unplayable deliveries.

By the way, if you do play Mishra, can you tell the fellow to stop bowling no-balls? I'd hate it if he got Pietersen out for 0, only to be told it was off a no-ball. Mark my words, MSD.

The Indian team has always done well when they were the underdogs. I can hardly remember a time where they have delivered as good front-runners (the 2011 World Cup, maybe?). By virtue of the 2 comprehensive losses, in spite of being ranked #1 you find yourself in the position of an underdog. You have England right where you want them. They are probably already dreaming of an open bus parade through London to eclipse that of 2005. At least, I am sure Michael Vaughan is trying to finagle an invitation onto the bus with his attention-seeking tweets that probably hint at a desperation to stay in the limelight.

Don't let the press get to you (this open letter included). Develop that siege mentality and look within for answers. Every team in American sports tries to come up with a reason to say "no one believed in us". Well, my friend, you have been handed this on a platter.

Carpe diem



Samir Chopra said...

Nice work Jaunty! Hope springs eternal - things can only get better from here.

Leela said...

Don't let the press get to you
That would be his biggest challenge, I guess.