A little bit of hiatus in the frenetic world of sports is always welcome. It gives us all, from athletes to aspirants, fans to family, commentators to connoisseurs a time to recharge our batteries and set ourselves up for the exciting months to come.
It is also a time to reflect on the past. Some of the goings-on are intriguing while the others are unpalatable.
The world of cricket, with India in the middle of things as usual, is again experimenting with things and indications which make for very interesting reading.
The last big thing to come out of all of these developments was the ‘open’ tender-like advertisement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), seeking applications for the post of Chief Coach with the senior team.
Now, this has been doing the rounds for quite a while. There was once a time, post the end of Duncan Fletcher’s tenure, that many names did the rounds.
From Shane Warne to Shaun Pollock, Justin Langer to Andy Flower, Michael Hussey to Tom Moody, names flew thick and fast and a couple even got interviewed by the media as potential successors to Fletcher!
But while nothing came out of it, with Ravi Shastri being the nearest thing to a coach, as “Team Director’, it gave a lot of ammunition for us hacks to fire around.
Then came BCCI’s new president and secretary, and there was the letter.
Very interesting one, that too. There was a clause about knowledge of spoken Hindi, something that BCCI later clarified was not ‘mandatory’.
What this does immediately is that it ensures, through BCCI’s rather well-conceived ‘mistake’, is that it ensures that no foreign guy will have even a shout.
Essentially, it means that new BCCI president Anurag Thakur has made it amply clear that the next Indian team coach will be from India. Since ‘not mandatory’ means ‘preferred’, and all the phoren boys, tagged to all those IPL teams, haven’t picked up a smattering of Hindi over the years, since the only language that runs the League is money.
No sooner than this was done, we had chairman oF selectors Sandeep Patil and the one and only Shastri in the fray.
Don’t think Sanjay Bangar will get too much more than an assistant coach role in the scheme of things, once India B returns from Zimbabwe.
Rahul Dravid wouldn’t be seen dead coaching the senior team. He is all too aware of the criticism that comes with the role. If there’s one bat Jammy can’t handle, it’s a brickbat.
So we will soon have a Chief Coach, most likely speaking Mumbaiya Hindi. That would really add to the mix.
Sadly, Sushil: While this Chief Coach business was quite interesting and entertaining, the virtual bout between the inimitable Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Yadav for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic 74-kg freestyle slot was, frankly, a disgrace.
Sushil Kumar will always be one of the anchors of Indian sporting history. It is unusual to see Indian athletes win one Olympic medal, let alone two in two different Games!
But sadly, in India, Olympic favourites are often chosen by past successes rather than any future potential.
Sushil was not in the fray, and Yadav won the quota place for the Rio Games. That should have been the end of it.
But no. Sushil, undoubtedly under advice from ‘coach’ (not to mention father-in-law) Satpal, first demanded a trial contest between him and Yadav from the federation, with things going up to the Sports Minister.
But when nothing came out of it all, Sushil approached the legal system, which is where the door should have been shut immediately. But one of the fruits of democracy is that everyone can approach the courts, irrespective of how flimsy their grounds are.
So the sordid drama dragged on till the Hon. Delhi High Court decided this wasn’t enough of a case and the Wrestling federation of India’s option of Yadav wouldn’t be challenged.
That was that, though enough people whispered in Sushil’s ears to keep on fighting.
Sushil Kumar could have become immortal if he had decided to gracefully allow Yadav to go and fight for the country with his blessings, maybe even impart some of his undeniable expertise in terms of advice.
But no. Under the influence of people who wanted to see themselves in Rio as much as Sushil, he fought an unsavoury and unnecessary battle which wasn’t his right to fight in the first place.
Sushil is still one of the most humble and down-to-earth athletes in India and it pains to see him stand on public trial. But he really needs to understand who his friends and enemies are.
The there is MC Mary Kom. She tried to qualify for the Olympics and failed. Now there are attempts from her support group to try and find a loophole tied by string to the back door.
Wonder why we drag our top athletes through this. Or why they allow this to happen. Surely, personal pride is something would stop them? Very unfortunate if it does not.