Yesterday, on TV, the Nehru Stadium at Guwahati made a pretty picture with the green hills in the backgroud, the temples on the hilltops, the skies continuously changing their shades of blue, the crowds in their bright winter clothes. It is a pity that at the end of the brief winter day they had little to cheer about.
The Indian cricketers have been a great disappointment. What was feared has come true - without Gavaskar they are a poor match for any opposition with a reasonably good opening attack. Which also goes to prove that not everybody in the world is indispensable.
Too much is being made of a man called Patterson, he has been made into a demon bowler when he neither the pace nor the guile of the great West Indian bowlers of the recent past, from Wesley Hall downwards, including Chucker Charlie Grifith. Only a month earlier, in the Reliance Cup, teams other than Indian had hit Patterson all over the place. They had also eliminated the West Indies as a second-rate team.
There are reasons for Indian's less-than-poor performance, besides the absence of Gavaskar. The selection committee, by reintroducing Amarnath and Gaekwad in the team, is one of these reasons. I cannot understand if Gavaskar considers himself too old to play, how can these out-of-form and out-of-touch contemporaries of his be resurrected!
Also inexplicable are the selection committee's decisions such as playing Chandrakant Pandit as a batsman, keeping a fully-recovered Sanjay Manjrekar out of the team.
The cricket board is also to blame. Where it should enforce discipline, it has failed to do so, where it should shut its eyes and allow the Indian captain to write his comments, it has got all upset and started an unnecessary controversy which could only upset Vengasarkar's game.
Vengsarkar's writing is one of the high-points for the present series. His comments are intelligent, there are no excuses for himself or his team, the criticism is judicious, the praise for the opposition gallant. I see no reason why he should not be permitted to write, even if Viv Richards was not writing a column.
The other point that the board is to blame for is the itinerary of the tour, the one-dayer fitted of the tour, the one-dayer fitted in between the Tests. Though even if they were played either before or after the Test series, I think the present Indian team in its present form would have lost.
There are tow more points. The first is about the Indian players wanting to wear the logos of commercial sponsors on their shirts and trousers. I cannot think of any sponsor wanting to advertise his products through a team which is on a losing spree and whose performances are so miserable that they may in face affect the sale of the products advertised.
The other points is about this new complaint of what professional golfers and tennis players earn as compared to cricketers. Which is exactly the same as our Michael Ferreira complaining about what billiard players earn as compared to cricketers.