04 December 2017

Kohli great, India polluted, coaches out of order

Ravi Shastri and Bharath Arun: physicians who will not heal themselves 
India is a cricketing superpower.  It is the centre of the cricketing universe for reasons that are not only about cricket.  India can play ‘Big Brother’ and not just to regional test playing countries.  So when India is dismissive of the test series with Sri Lanka and talk about the South African tour being the real deal, a Sri Lankan team diminished on several fronts must grin and bear.  

And India, apart from the first few days of the current series, has amply demonstrated that it can afford to swagger and strut, belittle the opposition and even be abusive.  Even those ‘bad early days’ were put down to experimenting with fast wickets to prepare for the South African tour.  Point taken. 

All fine.  Kohli and his men did a lot of talking outside the boundary line and backed it all up by making bat and ball echo the off-field braggadocio and condescension.  

Gamesmanship is allowed, after all, and in these days of sledging might even be considered polite.   Then came Delhi.  That’s Pollution City, by the way.  

Ok, so it’s the same for both teams.  It’s up to the players, coaches, trainers etc to ensure fitness.  Decent enough arguments.  However, the unforeseen happened.  For whatever reason a bunch of Sri Lankan players fell ill, and had Kohli not declared, trainer Nick Lee would have had to take field (he had already changed into whites, according to coach Nic Pothas). 

So the Indian crowds booed.  They said ‘loser, loser.’  

India’s bowling coach B Arun said that it was up to the other team to make sure their players are fit.  Correct.  Not his problem.  They have to focus on winning the game.  All fine.   

Arun also said ‘I think pollution is everywhere in our country, we are not too worried about the pollution.’  That’s an interesting statement but that is (to use Arun’s logic) India’s problem. 

Arun comes off the whole situation as an self-righteous and arrogant Indian, but nevertheless as one who was totally focused on the job at hand, understood the battle lines, didn’t ask for favors and wasn’t ready to give any either.  

However, the man didn’t stop there.  He began getting his knickers tangled when he spoke of Ravi Shastri’s involvement and in the process inadvertently revealed how Shastri tripped himself. 

This is how Sidharth Monga, who wrote a brilliant satirical piece on the entire issue titled ‘SL’s struggles no Machiavellian plan,’ detailed Shastri’s involvement in a different report (“‘We had players coming off the field vomiting’ - Pothas”).

“India coach Ravi Shastri had come out and seemed to have a stern word with the umpires.” Monga reports.  He quotes Arun: “Ravi was pretty simple.  He said ‘Please get on with the game, don’t stop, you don’t need to stop. You take a decision, and just get on with the game.’”

It’s obviously not the case that the Sri Lankans were trying to run away from the game.  They got well and truly walloped by India at home.  They’ve been so bad for so long that another test loss or series loss was certainly not reason enough to abandon or delay a game.  To insinuate that this was what they were doing (when they were yet to bat in the first innings too, mind you) is plain silly.  

But Shastri’s comment is interesting.  If Shastri wanted the umpires to ‘take a decision,’ why was he out there tutoring them on what they should and should not do? If it’s up to the umpires to decide, then stopping or not stopping the game is up to them; they don’t need Shastri to tell them what to do.  

Arun, having demonstrated that his boss was a walking-talking contradiction, then plays ‘follow the leader.’

Here’s what he told Monga:

“I think the umpires and the match referee, they have a job on hand and it’s not up to the players to go and protest.”

Ok, so players should not protest.  The umpires have a job to do. Fine.  Then why on earth was Ravi Shastri out there ‘protesting’ (and getting knickers twisted in the process)?  Is ‘protest’ some kind of divine right that only Indians or more precisely something that only Indian coaches can exercise?  

Two questions, one for each.

Dear Arun: Was or was not Ravi Shastri ‘protesting’?

Dear Ravi: If decision is the preserve of the umpire, what on earth were you doing telling them to ‘get on with the game’?  

Someone, anyone, please tutor these two Indians on basic logic.  No, don’t even bother teaching them decency and civilization.  It will go over their heads; after all they are fine with pollution of one kind and in all likelihood are fine being dense in other areas.

As for Kohli and his men, they’ve more than redeemed their sophomoric coaches.  Great cricket.  Wonderful entertainment.  Thanks.