Why franchise cricket is not a zero-sum game

While posting this take on the changing face of cricket yesterday, the memory of an excellent article on the subject I’d read a while ago kept nagging at me. Here it is — Amit Varma on Cricinfo, March 2008. [A facet of all really good writing is how well it ages — and this piece by Amit, even more relevant today against the proliferation of badly argued diatribes about players turning into “money-grubbers”, is a classic example].

PS: Am likely to be off blog for the rest of the day. Back tomorrow.

One thought on “Why franchise cricket is not a zero-sum game

  1. The Kerala cricket team holding on to an international cricketer is like an Arab clinging to his only camel in the middle of the unforgiving desert. Sure, God’s own country had their share of quality cricketers, but they perished to the whims and fancies of the Brijesh Patels who were more the rule than the exception in the earlier decades (I am assuming that the accustations against Brijesh Patel are based on facts). Surely, cricket is in its infancy in Kerala, where its still the stronghold of a few high and mighty with the all important political muscle. Rare talents like K.Ananthapadmanabhan have been confined to the dust-bins of would-have-beens, because the association would not back him. (I remember Carlton Saldanha once mentioning to me that Kumble would never have made it if Ananthan got a chance to play for India!). As things stand now, the only way the masters of cricpolitik in Kerala can have a place in the sun is in the reflected glory of Sreesanth, who has been working over-time (more in the green rooms and dance floors than the nets) to be in the news. So turning a blind eye to a ‘bit of indescretion or indiscipline’ is the least they (The Kerala Cricket Association) can do to remain visible and of course, well heeled.
    Talking about Sreesanth, is exasperating. Most people noticed him when he took Tendulkar’s wicket in a doestic one day tourney, much later. But I have been watching the bloke since he played for India-A against the visiting New Zealanders at Rajkot in Oct. 2003! He was a shy and quiet boy, displaying hardly anything more than a blush when he took McMillan’s wicket. It was there for all to see that here was a guy who held the seam upright and bowled the classical right-armers’ outswing- a deadly ball bowled at the right length and direction to a right handed batsmen.
    Over the years, he has added a bit of pace, but his strength remained the same, whereas his weakness- the lure of publicity- grew many-fold. Many people find hima an enigma, not quite knowing how to make him out- a genius with a temper which affects his performance, or a Mcenroe whose performance is enhanced by his tantrums; a bully who taunts opponents or a poor victim of bullying by the likes of Bajji?
    Let me de-mystify the conundrum for once and for all.
    Sreesanth is essentially a simple kid- a cherub, if you like.
    He is perhaps the one who bowls with the straightest seam in international cricket.
    He is perhaps amply blessed with copious supplies of adrenaline- a must for a fast bowler.
    There, I’m afraid end the positives. The word ‘upstart’ was probably framed with him in mind. And the honest truth (which his captains do not seem to have spotted) is that he is uncomfortable bowling to left handers to whom his stock out-swinger is not threatening. He is intimidated by a left-hander if he is aggressive like Hayden or Gilchrist or Greame Smith. Remember the Indian tour of the W.I in 2006, when he was hit all over the place by Gayle and Chandrapaul and returning figures of 0-96 and 1-99 in the first and the third tests? To his credit, he redeemed himself somewhat in the fourth, but to this date, most of his good bowling spells have been to right-handers.
    The Indian media which is waiting for heros and villains, took to him swiftly and he was made to believe that he had arrived, at a stage when he had a lot to learn.The poor guy got frustrated when his reputation was at stake and resorted to tantrums. A bit more of discretion by the captains might have saved the situation for him. But he should have known that there is no place to hide in International Cricket.
    He may yet prove me wrong, but as indicated by all his misdemeanors on and off the field, it seems unlikely that he has enough time (and even less inclination) to learn.



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