A pregnant chad of an opportunity
Cricketnext.com reports that Md.Kaif has been drafted in for injured Sachin.
Let me take you back sometime, to the time when the Duleep Trophy was going on, to a blogpost by good friend Straight Point titled A case for Kaif over at his blog.
The discussion there centered around the consistency Kaif was showing, despite the scarcity of really huge eye-catching scores, and the possibility that he could be working rather usefully for a test recall ahead of the many young contenders.
Kaif too is young you know!
What attracted one's attention was the progress in Kaif's longer version game. All the one-dayers and the need to be consistently innovative at no.7 for a limited-over busy Team India, while not geting a chance to play the longer version at any level as a consequence, had retarded his inherent strength and style of play, which was test match cricket.
A little over a year ago, there was a similar discussion at 606 when the debate was over who between Yuvraj and Kaif should play in tests. At that time, without denying the enormous potential of Yuvi to be a match-turner anytime, one couldn't help bring up the comparable stats of both and the more well-rounded game of Kaif over Yuvraj's confusion over spin.
This call-up as a replacement may be just a hanging chad, or a dimpled chad perhaps, or maybe a "pregnant" chad, but it is a chad nevertheless. A clear indicator of how the selectors mean to look at potential suitors for a vacant India test spot. Get your longer game in shape before you look to leap from very limited to limited to unlimited.
It is also an acknowledgement, in a way, that much harm was done to these youngsters of then by keeping them away from their natural process of learning. Also, of the fact that Kaif's, or any talented domestic player's, toils on the circuit will not go unrecognized.
Chopra got edged out of contention by a combination of factors beyond his control despite the best he did with those he could control. Kaif too has been persevering with what he could control. He has revived his instinctual test class batting, practiced the ability to concentrate for long periods in the middle, shelved some of the irritating diversions of limited overs which had taken over his game, and basically completed an interrupted higher education in the art of playing cricket. Yuvraj simply refuses to even consider re-entering the portals of this university, much less work in an adult literacy programme to smarten up important missing aspects of his game. Both Yuvraj and Kaif have comparable stats in tests, which are sorely lesser than what one hoped from them.
Hope....how can you hope without arming a chap with the necessary stuff? How can you hope if you are blinkered that every teenager is a Sachin? By the way, Sachin had a balanced entry into cricket through tests rather than the skewed ones of Kaif and Yuvraj.
I bring this up because there are calls for repeating these very mistakes one made with Kaifi and Yuvi - there is a sense of urgency to inject Rohit Sharma into the no.5 slot of the test team. Fine player that he is in limited overs, I'm looking to see how he does in the longer version...I don't find much yet. None of the youngsters have most aspects of the test team covered yet and we are snatching them away before they are ready.
What's the use of pulling kids from school, putting them to work for a few years in the hell-hole of a busy chaai stall, which offers no nutrition, no learning, no growth, no future (travelling with the Indian limited over side is like that...only financially more rewarding), and then trying to make amends by rescuing the child labor and putting them back in school?
Isn't it better that they be allowed to go through it out first? Get ready for the big game through some useful hours of practice? I could be a glider pilot or a single-engine pilot in some aero club, that doesn't mean I'm ready to fly an A 380 from here to wherever on the other side of the globe!
Raina is another example. International cricket, especially test cricket, cruelly exposes your limitations. If you have the talent, there is hope for improvements. If you aren't with that talent, then there is very little you can do.
These boys are talented....some are willing to make the adjustments, some hope to slip past in continuous denial, some are willing to go back to the drawing board and work things out, some are willing to set up a CV first (re: Chatteshwar Pujara)...but why create such a mess in the first place?
In a discussion elsewhere going on currently, on the eventual replacements in the Indian test team, I said as follows about Pujara.
Pujara is making faster improvements.
Attacking southpaw who usually plays at no.3. Young and used to play long innings and taking responsibility for his mediocre team. He has often be the lone performer for his team and bailed them out often. I'm looking for that kind of attitude to fit into that slot vacated by Laxman.
Someone who can stay and someone who can step on the gas as needed. And with technique as well.
The fact is that's a generic comment...it could be about Tiwary or a Raina who are also building up a strong CV now...a generic requirement for all newcomers who are looking to seal it with the Indian test team. First learn doing what is needed in different situations of the LONGER game, then do it once more and perhaps practice it yet again before you consider yourself ready.
Kaif may not get to play after all this, he may never get to play a test again, or he may just use this pregnant chad of an opportunity and actually carry on forward without further interference from the supreme court of BCCI. Whatever he does, he has firmly highlighted the dangers of the way we handle our teen cricketers.
Sunday, 30 March 2008
A pregnant chad of an opportunity