Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Firecracker Diffused

Sreesanth’s injury is the worst piece of news to hit India as they embark upon their challenge Down Under. To make matters worse is the knowledge that that injury came up as a result of a freak dive to save one run in a meaningless dead ODI game against Pakistan. Really, ODIs are, in my opinion, always meaningless. It is indeed tragic that a young bowler, so full of promise has had to miss out on what could have been the most definitive career-launching series for him. And, from India’s point of view, it could have been the rise of a bowler, who, again in my opinion, has it in him to serve the country with distinction for a very long term.

By the time Sreesanth might get a chance to tour Australia again, it will be 2011. He will be almost 29 years old and while he could be a much mature bowler he might have lost that youthful zing, enthusiasm and aggression that he brings today.

I am of the opinion that a tour of Australia is one that is more likely to make a fast bowler and it is important to go there when you are young. That would prepare one extremely thoroughly for the more mediocre challenges in the rest of the cricket world. It is less interesting going there as one who has seen the World and is on a pilgrimage in his later years. There is not much to be gained out of it at that stage.

Unfortunately will a youngster be able to think this far ahead? Won’t it be drilled into his head that he should dive to stop every meaningless run and risk life-changing injuries? Or is it just that our youngsters while having the desire to field out of their skins don’t have the necessary technique? Is the bowling coach to be blamed here? Should it be his responsibility to make sure that a fielder has the technique to dive before allowing him to do so in a match especially if the most important series in the World, his long term career and the entire future of Indian fast bowling is at stake?

The questions are many – was it just destiny? Could it have been avoided at all? Can he still make an entry later in the series? (Note: TEST series, not the meaningless ODIs to follow). Well the bottom-line remains: a confident Indian team after conquering England could have had the best chance to beat Australia in Australia even surpassing the astonishing heights of the last tour. We could still expect to see fireworks from Team India but one fire-cracker has been a non-starter in sad circumstances.