Dravid’s stature as cricketer is undiminished (Commentary)

May 14th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By K. Datta
Close on the heels of the shocking slapping incident involving Harbhajan Singh and S. Sreesanth and those fines imposed on Sourav Ganguly, Shane Warne and Ishant Sharma, the DLF Indian Premier League (IPL) has made news with the midstream sacking of the CEO of Bangalore’s Royal Challengers because the team had failed to get into the winning habit. The IPL teams are big-budget corporate creations meant to do business for their owners with the assistance of gladiatorial performers, themselves out to make a quick crore (Rs.10 million) or two or even more. Because the teams, featuring players bought in an open auction bazaar, a novel concept in itself if not exactly tasteful, are supposed to be business entities, they are headed by suitably designated CEOs.

Following the ways of the corporate world, these gentlemen are liable to be shown the door should the team not make a mark in the cut-throat market of a cricket league in which hundreds of millions have been invested. Business minded owners see their teams as business profit centres.

It would be stretching credulity too far to believe that tycoons, liquor barons, actors and actresses investing their millions for the pleasure of owning teams in the IPL were unaware that winning and losing, even coming last, was all part of the game. They must have been well advised by cricket brains that sometimes the best of teams on paper, defying all calculations and expectations, fail to click. And that sometimes, even no-hopers can spring a surprise.

Royal Challengers owner Vijay Mallya has gone on record to say that he made a mistake in allowing the judgement of his CEO Charu Sharma as well as captain Rahul Dravid to prevail in the choice of players to be bought for his team in the auction. This is being wise by hindsight. The CEO has been removed from his post, and the captain must also not be feeling exactly comfortable. Whatever Mallya’s personal views, whatever his business decisions, they can’t diminish Dravid’s stature as a cricketer. That much is for sure.

The league is only halfway through. Dravid’s Royal Challengers may well be seen clawing their way up the league table if the whole team chips in and every player pulls his weight, at the crease or in the field, no matter what his worth in terms of rupees or dollars. For all the enormous amount of money that has been invested in this form of T20 gladiatorial entertainment, for all the loyalties temporarily purchased, it still remains a game of bits and pieces.

Four overs is all a bowler is called to bowl, and even the best of them can get a hiding as we saw the legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne learning to his cost at Jaipur Monday night. Breezy cameos by batsmen, top-order ones or even tail-enders, can make all the difference. So all is not lost for the Royal Challengers. The brewers of Royal Challenge may rest assured the popularity of their brand will remain undiminished. Cheers.

(K. Datta is a veteran sports journalist and can be contacted at dattak.2007@rediffmail.com)

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