A case of our ailing system

Makarand Waingankar
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While the country envisages a new Indian team bursting with young blood and energy, a youngster has yet again been reprimanded for misconduct. Uttar Pradesh’s Praveen Kumar has been charged with misbehaviour by the umpires and match referee of a Corporate Trophy match. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), besides sending a show cause notice to him has also suspended him from participating in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

A contracted player, most of Praveen’s time of late has been spent on fitness at the NCA. Should we sympathise with Praveen on the grounds of frustration with constant injuries? Praveen’s case does not look like a sad story of frustration. His erratic behaviour has been evident even before he started playing for India.

In 2006, he was on the tour of Kenya with the India ‘A’ team and coach Chandrakant Pandit. For the team meeting, Praveen turned up in inappropriate attire.

Pandit being a stickler for discipline asked Praveen to go back to the room and return to the meeting in proper dress.

Praveen not only refused but used unpalatable language. Reportedly, he kept defying the team management but no action was taken by the BCCI even on return.

That he was a potential case of killing the spirit of the game was evident. One expected the BCCI to handover the case to councellors but the BCCI treated the case too lightly and he wasn’t even reprimanded.

Steep rise

The next season saw the launch of IPL and instead of an improvement, Praveen’s misbehaviour was on a steep rise. But he had supporters who went by the logic of ‘you must try and understand him as he is talented’. Soon, the whispers of his UP teammates about his attitude became too loud to ignore. Praveen was doing well for the Indian team and hence nothing was done at all. No one wanted to deal with it now that Praveen was contributing to the team anyway.

Praveen’s good run soon ended and the injuries took a toll. He didn’t know how to cope with the pressures of dislodging his replacement. There was a case of defying the UP coach Venkatesh Prasad.

We have seen many careers go astray with a change in lifestyle. With crores being paid for playing IPL for a few weeks of summer, Praveen’s focus too was shifting. Why would such a player have any respect for Ranji and Duleep Trophy matches?

When young Ravindra Jadeja wrongly or rightly was made to sit at home for one IPL season, he came back a matured person and immediately found a place in the Indian team with his strong all-round performances. Praveen can be made to do this.

More than a decade ago Ricky Ponting’s behaviour in Kolkata was immediately identified by Cricket Australia as a problematic area and he was handed over to experts. He went on to become one of the greatest Australian players.

Having said all this, the problem might be more deep-rooted than it seems. It is the story of an entire ailing system of glamour, arrogance and pride. What we need is a serious rethinking of the way cricket is thought of in this country and the values that youngsters grow up idolising.

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