Two incidents were the topic of debates last week. Funnily, both represented two extreme stages of Indian cricket.
While Tendulkar’s mode of dismissals elicited concern because of the legend he is, the hype around Unmukt Chand's detention by his college was because people see him as the new face of India. Both these cases are indeed very important phases of Indian cricket.
In Tendulkar’s case, fans and the media start screaming every five innings he doesn’t score a ton. The mode of dismissal makes for a new topic for debate till he gets his next hundred. However, another similar dismissal and the debate gains more sensation.
Though some experts have voiced opinions about his getting bowled ‘through the gate’, no one has offered him solutions.
But that shouldn’t make a difference to someone who has played 23 years of international cricket. He has his checklist of solutions and anyone who has watched him in the nets will tell you how purposeful he is.
Many feel that Tendulkar should play off-season matches before playing international cricket. Earlier, top players would take part in Buchi Babu and Moin-ud-Dowla. Now players who haven't even played Test cricket avoid such tournaments.
V.V.S. Laxman not only trained at the NCA for more than a month but turned up for his State in the KSCA tournament.
Since the Bombay team spent more than a fortnight playing the KSCA tournament, Tendulkar could have participated to get much needed practice. No one seems to remember when Tendulkar last played in a local Mumbai tournament.
However, we must remember that it is Tendulkar we are talking about. All said and done, he knows his stuff.
Coming to the case of youngsters, Unmukt’s story is not a first. The Hindu published a story about M.L. Jaisimha being denied promotion by his college while he toured England in 1959.
Former Bombay captain Milind Rege told me that when he and Gavaskar missed the prelims of St. Xavier’s College, they were asked to write eight papers in two days. Despite playing for Bombay in the Ranji Trophy, they attended all the lectures when they weren't playing.
If the college is known for not bending rules, where was the need for special treatment for Unmukt. Knowing his priorities and the college rules, he could have opted for another institution.
In the 1960s, though a college in Bombay promoted players who had not attended a single lecture, Gavaskar’s and Rege’s parents didn't encourage them to join it. Surely, Dr Abdul Hai who played for Hyderabad and South Zone and Dr Ravinder Chadda who captained Haryana and North Zone couldn't have obtained their degrees in medicine without attending college.
Sport should be an integral part of youngsters’ activities, but ignoring other forms of knowledge should not be encouraged. Making sports an excuse to get academic privileges is unethical. Cricketers in India have enough privileges anyway. We should stop decorating the same doll with hundred necklaces.