Friday, August 24, 2012

Will Tendulkar ever retire?

The retirement of VVS Laxman from international cricket rings the curtain down on another on another illustrious cricketing career. His contribution to Indian cricket is immense. Yet, no one could have played forever, and surely Laxman was way past his best. It is somewhat unfortunate that only after a gentle nudge from the selectors did he realise that “this is the right time to give opportunities to the youngsters…”, and felt that it was the right time to move on. Pullela Gopichand put it very correctly (Prefer he goes out now, 19 August) when he said that, “At 37, I feel that he had had a long and illustrious career and I would prefer he goes out now with his head held high…”.
What surprised me was the concerted criticism directed at the chief selector for pointing out to Laxman the obvious, that his best days were indeed over. I wonder if those same people (former captain Sourav Ganguly included) were similarly critical of Cricket Australia for informing Steve Waugh, the then captain of the Australian cricket team, in no uncertain terms that the sooner he announced his retirement the better, or be dropped from the test team. Selection to represent any country ought to be made on the basis of current from, not on past achievements or sentiments.
Having initiated the process, I wonder if Mr. Srikkanth would do a great service to Indian cricket, to those youngsters waiting in the wings, and to Mr. Sachin Tendulkar by having a similar chat with him soon. Tendulkar too is well past his best. He is not fit enough to suffer the rigours of a long cricketing season. His reflexes have slowed down considerably. By not playing regularly he has become rusty – as was evident by his painstaking 19 runs scored yesterday (23 August 2012) against New Zealand during the first Test at Hyderabad. It's only in India that the official selectors wait for a player to make up his mind to announce his own selection according to his choice. India cannot afford the luxury of having him make himself available for selection as and when he pleases, cherry pick the matches to play, or to simply block the place of other promising youngsters (like Cheteswar Pujara – he scored an unbeaten century). Tendulkar has no more mountains to climb, anyway. It’s high time he too bid a formal farewell to international cricket.

Mamata's money demands

Let’s get one thing clear: no one, but no one requested, cajoled, blackmailed, begged or forced Ms. Mamata Banerjee to become the chief minister of West Bengal. It was absolutely her own decision and her own achievement, first and last. She fought for the chair tooth and nail, achieving what had seemed an impossible task. The financial condition of this state was never a big secret. She knew very well what she was getting into. She was fighting to wear what was no more than a crown of thorns.
She did not “inherit the enormous debt and a state in such dire circumstances”. The baggage that she carries today was consciously taken on by her – if fact, she waged a long war for it. It is, therefore, incorrect to say that she has “no choice” (Stolen March, Telegraph, 23 July) but to use “a combination of cajoling, threats or entreaties”, or beg for doles from New Delhi. She walked into this mess with her eyes open; she can very well walk away from it if she so desires. She has a choice – one always has.
She is in her chair for more than a year now. Her choice was to follow in the footsteps of her predecessors, or chart a new course to develop the state (ask Bihar). Sadly, she appears to have chosen the former. She continues with populist measures even if these continue to drain the coffers of the state. She seems to believe more in gimmicks (read trident street lights, blue paint, renaming stations and water tanks) than hard core development for sustained, medium and long term gains. She could have taken a leaf out of the books of Bihar or UP. She still can, she still has a choice. However, she cannot have her cake and eat it too. The sooner she realises this, the better for her.
Hardly one year into her reign, she complains about nothing but fiscal deficits. The lady doth protest too much, I wonder why! If the Left Front government could live with the pathetic state of West Bengal for 34 years, surely so can she! She could continue the way her predecessors had, or start right away on the path to painful, un-populist but badly needed reforms. She still has a choice, but her time is running out.