Legendary Indian opening batsman and the original ‘little master; Sunil Gavaskar has caused a stir by his latest column where his took a dig at Indian cricket skipper Virat Kohli taking paternity leave and leaving for India after playing the first Test in the on- going series against Australia.
In a Test where India were humiliated after been bowled out for a shocking 36 in the second innings . Gavaskar while mentioning Kohli pointed out that the find of the series in Australia and T20 series T Natarajan also became a father during the IPL playoffs is yet to see his daughter while Kohli was allowed to go ahead of the birth of his first child. Clearly hinting at different rules for different people in Indian cricket
Gavaskar wrote, “Another player who will wonder about the rules but, of course, can’t make any noise about it as he is a newcomer. It is T. Natarajan. The left-arm yorker specialist who made an impressive debut in the T20 and had Hardik Pandya gallantly offering to share the man of the T20 series prize with him had become a father for the first time even as the IPL playoffs were going on. He was taken to Australia directly from the UAE and then looking at his brilliant performances, he was asked to stay on for the Test series but not as a part of the team but as a net bowler. Imagine that.
“A match winner, albeit in another format, being asked to be a net bowler. He will thus return home only after the series ends in the third week of January and get to see his daughter for the first time then. And there is the captain going back after the first Test for the birth of his first child. That’s Indian cricket. Different rules for different people. If you don’t believe me ask Ravi Ashwin and T. Natarajan,” he further wrote.
Yes, Mr Gavaskar there are indeed different rules for different people in Indian cricket and it cannot be overlooked. But are different rules for different people something new in Indian cricket ? No . Gavaskar was quick to write a scathing column on Virat Kohli’s paternity leave but was in silent mode when Rohit Sharma played for the Mumbai Indians in the Dream11 IPl 2020 qualifying and the finals after he was ruled out due to injury of the Indian team for the ODI and T20 series in Australia?.
What was the message Rohit trying to convey- fit for Mukesh Ambani franchise club but not for country? Is this the new normal in Indian cricket? Why no column on this?. Is it because Rohit Sharma plays for the Mumbai Indians?. Rohit is now part of the team and is likely to play the last two Tests of the four-match series. Unlike Gavaskar’s silence former India batsman and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar was miffed at Rohit Sharma’s decision and asked a very pertinent question :”is the IPL more important to him than playing for India? Is the club more important than playing for the nation for him? Will the BCCI take a call on this?”.
Why only players ? Even when judging a coach there seems to be different rules and so called accountability. Coach Greg Chappell and then skipper Rahul Dravid were squarely blamed for India’s 2007 World Cup debacle in the West Indies. Where does this accountability attribute goes when it comes to Ravi Shastri?
It is clear Ravi Shastri’s tenure barring the 2018- 19 Test series win in Australia (2-1) has been a flop show to say the least . India lost in Australia 2014-15 Test 2-0 including the World Cup in the semis , South Africa 2017-18 ( Tests 2-1), England Test series 2018 ( 4-1), New Zealand 2019-20 (2-0) and are yet to win a ICC tournament. Yet Shastri had the audacity to term the Virat Kohli led side the best travelling team in the last 15-20 years. This is nothing but outrageous and bizarre to say the least.
If Mahendra Singh Dhoni faced the heat after the 2015 World Cup exit and was later blamed for for the 2019 World Cup semi- final loss not able to finish then Virat Kohli too should be held accountable for India’s failures. One cannot have separate rules for Rahul Dravid, MSD as skippers and separate for Virat Kohli.
Gavaskar may be peeved at Virat leaving the Australia Test series mid-way especially after the horror at Adelaide but the little master had conveniently shied away from commenting on the numerous series Sachin Tendulkar did not play to prolong his ODI career so that he could realise his long cherished dream of winning a World Cup after the team crashed out in the second round in the 2007 edition in the West Indies. It was as if Sachin was the only one among the greats who wanted to win the World Cup and the rest greats – Rahul Dravid , Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman ( did not play in any World Cup in his career) did not want to win it.
Finally, Gavaskar’s anguish on the different rules for different people is noticeable in Indian cricket. One would appreciate that if he could look at the larger picture in totality that would do wonders for Indian cricket. Moreover, somewhere down the line one gets the feeling that there is clear hints of biasedness in his criticisms and his columns. And the backlash in social media for comments on Virat Kohli indicates this attribute.