Archive for March, 2012

It took 16 long years and a retirement announcement for Rahul Dravid to finally upstage Sachin Tendulkar.

And now as one cricketing great steps into the sunset, the spotlight has turned on the two veterans – Tendulkar and VVS Laxman – who were till recently the Big Three of Indian cricket.

To be honest, technically Rahul Dravid was better than anyone else in the team. Dravid, at the risk of blaspheming, I would say he was even better than Tendulkar in that department. Any school boy who wanted to learn how to be technically correct, only had to watch Dravid. It’s his misfortune that he played in an era where every other player, in India or elsewhere, was dwarfed by the Little Master. Whether it was Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara, Inzaman-ul-Haq…just about anyone else, they were always considered second best in comparison to Sachin.

Just like during the era of Sunil Gavaskar there was Gundappa Vishwanath, who many considered more talented than the original Little Master, but who (many including Gavaskar felt) never really realised his true potential. Even though Vishwanath began his career a season before Gavaskar, it was the latter who dwarfed him since then after his stupendous debut against the West Indies. And while Vishwanth produced classic knocks around the world’s cricket grounds against all forms of opposition, it was invariably Gavaskar who walked away with the accolades, and one who the team depended on when the chips were down.

The case of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar runs along similar lines. When Sachin bats every Indian’s heart in his mouth, because one never knows when the guy is going to do something silly. With Dravid around one was pretty sure that he would steady the innings and rarely make a false stroke. If he did, it would be met with incredulous silence. If Dravid was at the other end, it was a comforting factor. But at the end of the day it was Tendulkar who stole a march! Until today!

Speaking to a veteran Indian Test cricketer today about Dravid’s announcement, the talk veered around to the retirement of Tendulkar and the veteran shook his head sadly. He said Dravid was an educated, erudite man of many talents and could do a lot more beyond cricket. Tendulkar on the other hand didn’t know anything else except playing cricket. Probably that’s what was making the little man not contemplate retirement, felt this veteran.

It’s what he said next that made my ears perk up. It was sad to see Sachin getting hit on the head and elsewhere by the opposition bowlers so often, he said. Also, he was caught wrong-footed quite often. This showed that Sachin’s reflexes had slowed down a lot and, maybe, his eyesight wasn’t the same as before, he opined.

This gentleman who has followed Tendulkar’s game closely since the latter’s school days, opined that it was time Sachin also called it a day. “What does he have to prove anymore? Will it matter if he doesn’t get that 100th century? Will it make him any less a player he already is? He is beginning to lose the respect of a lot of senior cricketers by hanging on to his place.”

Now with the decision to retire at a rather emotional announcement in Bangalore, Rahul Dravid’s stature as a player and a gentleman has gone up quite a few notches. Who’s next?


I thought ascension to the seat of power by members of one family as a birthright was only seen in monarchies. We are seeing it now in a democracy.

Watching Congress leaders shamelessly defending Rahul Gandhi after the party’s disastrous showing in Uttar Pradesh, makes me wonder whether these politicians have any self respect or dignity. I understand these are politicians and sycophancy is the only thing they know, but they were speaking at any moment I expected them to start hanging their tongues out and wagging their tails.

As one heard their spirited defence of the man who they believed was their (not the people’s) prime minister-in-waiting, one wondered whether these seasoned politicians had taken leave of their senses. I mean, it’s one thing to appoint a distinguished economist as prime minister even though he has never won an election in his life, and an entirely different thing to anoint an 30-something upstart as prime minister in waiting just because he happens to be from a family that believes this country is their personal property. It made me nauseous.

Speaker after speaker extolled the virtues of Rahul Gandhi even though his disastrous campaigning had given his party almost the same number of seats as the last time. That the Congress Party is in a shambles in a majority of States is a foregone conclusion and if responsibility has to be fixed, then the Gandhi family has to cop the blame. Yet the sycophants of the oldest party in the country were defending the scion like he had actually done the State of Uttar Pradesh a huge favour by stepping out of his ivory tower to mingle with the peasantry and allowed them to kiss his ring. And just for that they would have to vote for him? Thank God the people of Uttar Pradesh wisely decided otherwise.

Unlike his father who was thrust into the hot seat due to circumstances beyond his control, Rahul has all the opportunities to become a seasoned politician before he aims for the top spot. A suggestion by a news anchor that Rahul first become the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh before looking to Delhi, was quickly turned down by the Congress party’s chief sycophant who said the Gandhi scion was a national leader not a State satrap like Jitin Prasada or Akhilesh Yadav! Both, incidentally are MPs not MLAs, just like Mr Gandhi and have as much opportunity to aim for the PM’s chair as he has.

But according to the Congress party that seat has been reserved for Rahul Gandhi, even if the man has so far failed in his attempts to lead his party to a victory in any state he has campaigned in. What is even better news for people who believe the Gandhis have been lording over the country like it’s their ancestral property and should be shown the door, is that their handpicked nominees got hammered in Amethi and Rae Bareli. Is there a more telling reminder to this family that they are not as loved or admired as they think they are.

If Rahul Gandhi wants to be prime minister he should learn the art of politics and governance before he thinks of applying for the most important job in the country. Running India is not the same as a day at the office. Even a distinguished economist has realised that working at the World Bank was a far easier job!