Playing, revealing it his way: Sachin still hasn’t lost his sense of timing
The good old Team India, it appears, has come alive once again with a stroke of pen.
Revelations in Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography, Playing it My Way, have triggered quite a controversy in a country which eats, sleeps, drinks, breathes, lives and loves cricket.
The likes of Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan are rallying around the Master Blaster’s claims of ‘Ring Master’ Chappell’, joining the chorus to shed some light on the ‘darkest phase’ of Indian cricket.
So far, so good! But, the mystery also starts at this juncture.
First, the timing of the revelations has been under media spotlight. The cynicism stems from the fact that in India we are accustomed to big-bang revelations ahead of a high-profile autobiography release – be it by a bureaucrat (Vinod Rai), politician (Natwar Singh) or now cricketer Tendulkar.
In the cricketing world, hair-raising revelations also featured in the autobiographies of Kevin Pietersen and Ricky Ponting – remember he has questioned Tendulkar’s testimony in Monkeygate.
True, such revelations could be a big USP ahead of a mega launch, and there’s nothing wrong in playing up a gripping detail from a book – just like a blockbuster trailer.
But, in Tendulkar’s case, the question is: Why was he silent during the reign of a “ringmaster who imposed his ideas on the players without showing any signs of being concerned about whether they felt comfortable or not”?
Tendulkar is not a mere mortal in India. He could have spoken up, irrespective of the timing and was sure to be heard.
Sure, he ‘reportedly’ did express a degree of concern in a daily (‘reportedly’ because Tendulkar later denied the comments in a television interview). Sure enough, Chappell lost his job soon after. Coincidence?
Ganguly, who lost his captaincy in Chappell’s regime and was dropped from ODIs, told a TV channel that the Aussie did some “unnecessary things” which did no good to Indian cricket.
The spat between Chappell and Ganguly is one of the most controversial chapters of Indian cricket, and its latest chapter has been written in Tendulkar’s book.
Amid the media glare, the question is not who’s right and who’s wrong. The question, in fact, is why Tendulkar did not speak out like Ganguly, Zaheer or Harbhajan had done in the past.
Accepted, Tendulkar is a God for a majority of cricket aficionados in the country, and steered away from controversies in his cricketing career.
But shouldn’t the man who carried the hopes of an entire nation every time he walked towards the 22 yards have revealed what was going on inside Indian cricket in those tumultuous times?
After all, the cost of Tendulkar’s silence may have had a bearing on India’s lacklustre performance in the 2007 World Cup.
Talking to a TV channel, Ganguly has said many senior players were quiet in light of what happened to him.
The second question that stems from the revelations is more serious. It is now a well-known fact that Chappell was chosen over Mohinder Amarnath on Ganguly’s recommendation.
It is another story that the leftie, who successfully battled his struggling form with the Auusie’s tips, was Chappell’s first casualty.
The number of controversies that erupted during Chappell’s stint – from the Ganguly spat to the middle-finger row and ‘oust seniors’ policy – is a testimony that Indian cricket suffered during his tenure.
But, what was the reason that prompted the all-powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to remain a mute spectator when this sordid saga was playing out?
Reports have it that the BCCI had brokered peace between Ganguly and Chappell. What else? Did they do anything to prevent the dressing room atmosphere from being vitiated?
What gave Chappell the confidence to oust a captain, whose credentials as a player are envious?