What a missed opportunity, sirji

New year. New city. New job. Same old cricket – these last couple of years, the Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers seem to spend more time with each other than with their respective spouses/squeezes.

Then again, who needs to start the year/decade with a crib about the scheduling? So I’ll start with a mild crib about the Board’s priorities instead.

In between the moving from Bombay to Bangalore, the settling down at the Yahoo office, the official induction process and the unofficial getting to know the city, I managed to catch parts of some fascinating cricket – Test cricket, glory be, that provided a far more compelling spectacle than these 50 over hit-abouts we seem to overindulge in.

The good news on that front is that India’s board appears to have taken captain MS Dhoni’s request to schedule more Tests with a measure of seriousness [MS seems to speak a language intelligible to the Board – shortly after his public strictures on the need for a bowling coach, the board has lined one up], and gotten the South African board to ditch some ODIs and play two Tests instead [now if the board could do the same with Australia, cutting the ODI schedule down from seven to say three and factor in some Tests, it would really deserve a rousing cheer].

The program versus the Proteas, which Neo Sports is already billing as the battle for number one and as the ‘World Championship of Cricket’, saves a year that otherwise would have featured Tests against only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Given all that I had on my plate in recent weeks, I haven’t done much browsing/reading – but a news item in the Times of India’s Bangalore edition dated January 8 did catch my eye.

The Karnataka State Cricket Association apparently requested the BCCI to permit Rahul Dravid to play for/lead the state team in the upcoming Ranji final against Mumbai. Since the game gets over a mere two days before the start of the first Test against Bangladesh, Vijay Mallya reportedly offered to fly Dravid over to Chittagong in a private jet.

The BCCI nixed the idea without – in true board style – assigning any reasons. Apparently the honchos believe that it is more important for Dravid to get an hour of net practice than full-on match practice in the final of the board’s premier domestic competition.

Pity. It is very rare that marquee Ranji games don’t compete for attention with the national team – I’d have thought the board would have wanted to grab the chance to allow both Karnataka and Mumbai to field full strength teams, play up the championship clash, and get the fans involved.

Would have been a nice start to the year – but never mind, we have a rare treat ahead this Wednesday, when India plays Sri Lanka.

Again.

What an idea, sirji.

PostScript: To all those who asked, in comments and mails — Bangalore is treating me just fine, thanks. Was off the map thanks to a combination of a screw-up with my cell phone connection, some delays in getting my cell and laptop set up at this end, and way too much on my plate thanks to the induction process, and generally finding my feet in the new workplace.

Blogging will likely remain desultory this week, since I’ll be away a good bit of the time getting my new home set up once the packers get my Bombay stuff down here Tuesday/Wednesday.

PPS: Will be away from desk, and net, for the rest of the day, and back here tomorrow morning.

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19 thoughts on “What a missed opportunity, sirji

  1. If Dravid were playing, Karnataka would have been huge favorites. Now the teams are more evenly matched, may the best team win.

  2. Mumbai is playing without Zak, Sachin and Rohit.. Didnt see the MCA kick up much of a fuss about that.. KSCA moves the finals from an established venue to a venue that has hosted a handful of atches.. Didnt see the MCA kick up a fuss about that either… Bad outfield,no problem. Pace friendly wicket, loaded in favor of Karnataka.. no problem either.

    But a pox on the BCCI for requiring Rahul Dravid to be present with the rest of the team two days before the beginning of the first test!

    If Karnataka are such a form team, they should zip their trap and win the Trophy instead of already lining up excuses for a potential loss.

    Cheers,

    • Dude, donno where you are coming from, but let’s not make this a Bombay-Karnataka slug fest.

      I did not in any way suggest that K’taka has it tough because Dravid is not playing — my only point is that the BCCI should have had the national players play in the Ranji final. I’d guess there are forums where the whole parochial back and forth is being played out, but with due respect, this particular post is not a cue for it.

      • I have no intentions of making this a slug fest.. Having been a regular commentator on your other blogs, you should know better than that.

        But it is equally true that Mumbai has, over all these years, been handicapped by the absence of its marquee players in the Ranji Trophy and it was never a cause for concern then.Nor did anyone comment about it.. It was taken as par for course.

        That Rahul Dravid’s absence should lead to so much breast beating is a surprise then!

        And for what its worth, why limit the presence of the national players for the final alone – why not make the Ranji the sole criteria for selection for the coming season.. Those who perform get a contract, those who dont, get nothing.

        Cheers,

    • There is a difference b/w the situations of Karantaka and Mumbai. For Karnataka, Rahul Dravid had played 4 matches this season (i.e., almost every match he was available) and was keen to play in the finals as well. And while re-scheduling the finals to accommodate Dravid was a bit too much to ask, surely the board could have let him play and join the Indian team on the 15th evening?
      On the other hand, Zak (due to India duty) and Sachin (due to India duty and choosing to rest instead of play in the S/F) have not been available at all. So it is rather pointless to say MCA did not kick up a fuss – they had no grounds to kick up a fuss in the first place. Rohit Sharma, on the other hand, would have been much better off playing for Mumbai than warm the benches in Bangladesh. That Mumbai didn’t raise a stink does not mean Karnataka shouldn’t have tried to get RD to play.

      Re: Gangothri Glades, surely home and away cricket means the home team chooses to play to its stengths? And from what I read (Akash Chopra’s column during the s/f), for the knockout stage the pitch is handed over to a neutral curator once the venue is decided. KSCA didn’t ‘move the finals’ – they merely scheduled it in Mysore, which had already hosted 2 games this season to Chinnaswamy’s 1. It isn’t really loaded in favour of Karnataka (what, you don’t rate Agarkar and Kulkarni?), just a better cricketing wicket than Chinnaswamy. If that means playing on a less than international standard outfield, so be it.

      • Chan,

        As this report indicates, it was the Indian Team Management that wanted Dravid in Dhaka by the 15th

        http://www.cricinfo.com/ranjisuperleague2009/content/story/442808.html

        Secondly, bith MUmbai and Karnataka were aware of both the schedules for the Bangladesh series and the itinerary for the Ranji Finals. So for Karnataka to raise a fuss is uncalled for!

        And finally the Mysore wicket – for the last 2 years atleast, the finals were being staged at a neutral venue. That has since changed so I am not sure who owns the pitch. From what I have gleaned reading various media outlets, it is the home associations prerogative to maintain the wickets and the outfield ( and given that the Pitches Committeee has been disbanded by the BCCI, the question of neutral curators does not really arise).

        Cheers,

  3. The Two tests in South Africa and in Australia were absolutely fun,who needs these boring ODIs!The Steyn spell and Paki hara kiri made for contrastingbut interesting watch.Maybe just maybe if Pakistan had won this match could have pushed Poning to eary retirement or atleast stpping down from captaincy.
    A Correction in your post above-maybe you spent 20 years in Bombay (and maybe a few years in Mumbai) withjust a few weeks in banalore in meetings!
    Welcome back!

    • Thanks. I am in the happy position of not having to support anyone. Wasn’t a fanatic Bombay backer when I was there, anyway.

      If you are asking who I think will win — I’d put some decent money on Karnataka. The team has a buzz around it this year, they seem to be feeding off each other’s abilities, and those are always good signs in a make or break game. Plus, they seem the more all-round side.

  4. Prem,
    Welcome to Blore & welcome back. Everyone other than the BCCI knows that playing the national championship final is definitely better practice than net sessions. So, I was disappointed to see Dravid is not playing. Another thing that amuses me is that why is no one (including the man himself) talking about SRT not playing the final? It is not that he’s injured. He just opted out of the current ODI jamboree. What would be more satisfying than seeing a Dravid vs SRT final? Can you think of a better inspiration for the other 20 players? With Vijay Mallya’s offer, is it too difficult to get these guys play the match & then fly them across to Bdesh?

    • I think Mallya’s offer was the issue. It hurt their EGO!!! How dare a petty franchise owner offer the BIG CASH COFFER INSTITUTION (BCCI) to cover flight expenses 🙂 Karnataka should have just tried to hold back Dravid for the finals and not make that private jet offer.

    • I’ve been in Bangalore for a week now, and have spent 90 per cent of the time in meetings. Against that, I spent 20 years in Bangalore. Any comparison would be daft, no?

  5. Hi Prem,

    Good to see that you settled down well and are doing great. Your blog is a part of my daily routine. I always check it first thing in the morning and before going to bed (that would be now). Anyway, best of luck and keep posting.

    Ram.

  6. maybe dhoni should put in a word for dravid’s match practice too. it all smells like a bombay conspiracy to win the game. yes, i’m biased.

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