Anywho moving on to things cricket. Of all the years of watching the man, this is the closest Sachin Tendulkar has come to getting dropped. He is so close to getting dropped that I'd be surprised if he isn't. A part of me thinks that the BCCI is playing things smartly. Clearly the stupid Indian fan is (a) disgruntled, (b) wants some heads chopped off, and (c) thinks people who beat 1:10000000 odds to be part of a leading share holder in a billion dollar industry, are overpaid. The BCCI needs to appease the least common denominator. Any head of this organization who has a 2-digit IQ will put on a show of castigating a few senior players only to include them laater and then slowly shepherd them to a graceful retirement. BCCI, although regarded as a very stupid organization, isn't nearly as stupid as the PCB. PCB changes captains after every world cup defeat. After our 83 victory, Kapil Dev has been the only Indian captain to be be sacked immediately after a WC exit. Azhar miraculously survived 3 WC exits, 2 of them were quite ignominious. But after every defeat, the team was shuffled big time. Krish Srikkanth, Ravi Shastri, Kapil Dev, Kiran More, were dropped after 92WC to make way for growing youngsters like Sachin, Kambli, Manjrekar, Mongia, Kumble, Srinath. After the 96 exit Sidhu, Kambli, Manjrekar, Prabhakar, Raju, were dropped for new talent such as Ganguly, Dravid, Agarkar, Venky Prasad, Jadeja, Robin Singh, S Ramesh. The 1999 exit saw Jadeja, Robin Singh, (later) Azhar, Prasad, Kumble, Ramesh make way for Yuvraj, Kaif, Zaheer, Harbajan, Sehwag. However 2003 to 2007 was exempt from big time changes. Less number of changes than even what the 1983WC - 1987 WC transition underwent.
The only significant change in team composition between the 2003 World Cup and now was the stupid inclusion of this Uthappa fellow instead of wobbly Kaif. We did not change the team in a big way. Was it because we had an awesome team in 2003? I didn't think so. I wish Tendulkar hadn't fired the way he did in the 2003 world cup. It hid a lot of errors in the team a la' 1996. If the readers remember the 96 WC, except for the Pakistan game, Tendulkar had pretty much decided the fate of all the other victories (and defeats). Even the games we lost (against SL & Aus), we were moderately competing by virtue of his 90s or hundreds. In the semi-finals, if he had carried on beyond 60s (until the freak run-out by Kaluwitharana, he didn't seem like getting out at all), we would not have lost so dramatically and might've gone through to the final. If that had happened, the Kamblis, Manjrekars and Sidhus of the world might have survived and people like Ganguly/Dravid might not have crept into the team. The 2003 World cup was the best (or worst) case scenario of 1996 WC. It was clearly another Tendulkar Show Part II. The biggest difference between the two was we won, instead of losing, against Sri Lanka. Was that difference big enough to retain the entire team? For example Ganguly and Sehwag barely scored against test nations. They played badly. Really Really badly. Harbajan didnt really set anything on fire. But the stupid Indian cricket fan, who saw the final game, forgave the bowlers who gave 359 runs in the finals and blamed Tendulkar for getting out in the first over. According to this fan, we did not lose the game in the first over we bowled nor in the first half of the game. But the stupid fan says we lost it when Sachin (not ganguly, sehwag, dravid, yuvraj or kaif but just Sachin) failed to get us past 359 in a world cup final against a bowling attack like Australia. It is the same stupid fan that the BCCI must appease now.
While I believe in Mark Twain's logic that popularity of an opinion has a strong correlation with stupidity of that opinion, I think this time around we have hit an exception to that rule. I believe that there is cricketing merit for Sachin to be dropped from both forms of the game. In fact I am rooting for him to get axed. My reasons for this may be slightly different and irrelevant compared to the logically solid reasons given by the stupid indian cricket fan boy, such as "he was over paid, choked, selfish etc". Usually in the past regardless of what this stupid indian cricket fan thought, Sachin Tendulkar had cricketing merit to stay in the team. If you disregarded nonsense criticisms like "selfish, personal record player" etc and simply did a statsguru, on his last 10-20 games, you would find that he had a decent average at a good strike rate. You couldn't drop him on cricketing logic. But now he's got 32 odd aversge in his last 20 ODIs and 25 odd average in his last 10 tests. Regardless of where you come from these are bad numbers. Those who argue that statistics aren't everything will be surprised when the 2007 World Cup winner is decided based on numbers. Whether Greg Chappell did or did not do anything substantial as a coach, he could at least be proud of one thing. His biggest achievement as a coach was to facilitate, in some way, the sacking of Ganguly. Rightly so, because Ganguly wasn't scoring at all for close to two-three years. Greg can now be potentially be proud of one more thing. He probably has done the same posthumously to Sachin. To put it simply Sachin can't put money where his mouth his. If I were Raju Bharathan, I would say, its the empty Tendulkar vessel that made a lot of noise in Times of India. The only other line of argument that has any sort of validity is - if BCCI let Azhar, Kapil and Ganguly stay in the team based on past achievements, why shouldn't Tendulkar stay? That is a valid argument that points out a consistency issue and not a merit issue. Time will give an answer to that. If I were to argue for Sachin, I'd clearly say that relegating him to the middle order was a bad idea. Mainly because it never worked. Greg Chappell claims that Sachin will milk the bowlers during middle overs. The only thing he looked like milking was caribbean cattle. It is a stupid logic with absolutely no cricketing merit (unless you consider something as mundane as 'do it for the team' - as cricketing merit). There is no statistic, real cricketing logic, or evidence to support that (a) Tendulkar will do well in middle order and (b) someone like Uthappa will do better than Tendulkar as an opener. What Greg Chappell's stupid logic has done is (a) deprive us of a excellent opener (b) given us a mediocre opener (c) given us a mediocre middle order batsman in Tendulkar. So we have moved from "good opener but no middle order batsman" to "no opener and no middle order batsman". There is no way anybody can contest that there is a better ODI opener than Tendulkar for India. Even the most stubborn Ganguly backed off from that kind of inistence during the previous world cup. Greg Chappell's misplaced confidence in Tendulkar as a middle order player has embarrassed not only Tendulkar but India as a whole. To say that opening is an "easy" job when India didn't have any sort of opening partnership going at all is either complete ignorance or total stupidity or both.
To conclude, while it is easy to make an argument that Tendulkar be dropped, it is not so easy to request for youngsters. We have no real youngsters who can a immediately replace these seniors. During every other world cup the 'youngsters' had already established themselves in the team and facilitated the seniors to be axed without severely distorting the results. If we went ahead and dropped Sachin, Ganguly, Sehwag, Harbhajan and Dhoni - I am not sure if the people replacing these blokes will really improve our fate. We might lose the test series against Bangladesh. On Tendulkar - I wish he gets dropped. It was horrible to see him bat during the 3rd test in South Africa. It suggests that he has deteriorated beyond imagination. If a shock treatment does him good (and I suspect that it will) - then good for him and India. On his part he can do a Laxman (Laxman refused to be considered as an opener for tests and won his middle order place on merit) and clearly say that he is in contention for the openers spot and not anything else. It will end a lot of nonsense that has been going around in the name of 'team spirit'. India will then start searching for a real middle order player instead of 'managing' and shuffling players up and down. Mean while here is a YouTube video spoofing Sachin. Reminds me of what dravid said on fringe players - "If you put yourself in a position where there is doubt, you deserve to be axed. You should make sure that there is no doubt". Tendulkar, right now, deserves to be among the laughing stock of Indian cricket.