A very Happy New Year to u all. On a personal note, it has been hectic like hell and I hope it is a little less strenuous this time around.
Anyway, I read with some amusement about the media coverage of Sehwag's bat fetching 70,000 for the Tsunami victims and something else fetching some other huge amount at auctions. Sure, money counts however it may come but media organizations seem to be attributing stuff like these (auctioning tee shirts, bats etc) as personal contributions from the demi gods of Indian cricket and we must remember that the money is not coming from them but from those who buy the auctioned stuff ... from the player's pocket, not even a paisa goes and even the tee shirt / bat etc would most probably be free. Sure, it is possible that all players are doing their bit by personal contributions but I just want to make sure the issue is not confused by talking about someone's tee shirt fetching amount XYZ and someone's bat fetching amount ABC.
The teams selected for the Tsunami relief match on January 10 in Melbourne make for interesting reading. I initially thought it would be the Asian best against the non-Asian best ... but with a player from Bangladesh in the squad and Ganguly / Tendulkar in the team, it surely can't be the best team possible ... just the best star studded team they could come up with. I don't dispute the thinking behind it coz in a festival match, the crowd come to have fun and the result of the match doesn't really matter. However, there are talks of the match getting official ODI status and here I object ... if it is going to be an official match then merit and not star attraction should be the first criteria.
Forget the Bangladeshi guy ... we don't really need to discuss whether he belongs in the best team possible from Asia or not ... but where SRT and Ganguly are concerned, there can be a good debate. My take on things - both wouldn't be in my squad of Asia's best today on current form and ignoring what they achieved in the past. A Sehwag ranks much above a SRT today and so while Sehwag's inclusion is not under dispute, SRT's inclusion is nothing but a crowd pulling move ... which is not required because irrespective of whether SRT plays or not, I am sure the stadiums would be full. Even if SRT plays, it is going to be interesting watching where he will play ... with Sehwag and Jayasurya in the team, is SRT gonna open? I will be watching with bated breath. If Imzamam had not been injured, he would have been my pick over SRT anyday.
Again, Ganguly being the Indian captain has some merit coz he has built the team and it might well crumble without his leadership. However, for a one off match, his being captain doesn't really make sense coz he has never been really known for on-field brilliance. As for his "people" skills, I really doubt if they are required in this scenario. A Yuveraj in the team would have fitted much better.
There are other things one could debate about the teams but enough said. Lets hope the cricket is of the highest quality and lets also hope the match does not get official ODI status else it will be an injustice to those who missed out because they weren't so flamboyant as the Tendulkars and Gangulys.
A point on Tendulkar's playing the match itself ... he is supposed to be recovering from injury and has been advised rest ... that is the reason why he is not playing the domestic matches even though Dravid / Ganguly / Zaheer etc are turning out for their respective teams. One of the earliest reports in the media about the match suggested that SRT might captain the team (which is really dumb ... does the word "captain" have no significance at all ... to give it to a proven failure) but later reports confirmed that he got in at the last minute at his own request to play the match. While it may be a noble and big hearted gesture on his part, personally I have no time for dramatics like this ... either he is injured and can't play cricket or he is ok and can play cricket. If he cannot play for Mumbai, he surely cannot play for Asia XI ... the injured elbow is not going to look at the cause for which he is playing. Personally, I think it is pretty irresponsible of SRT to volunteer ... coz once he volunteered, there is no way he was not gonna be in that team. I really can't support that move.
BTW, is it only me or are others noticing the really impressive cricket Jadeja is playing since becoming skipper of the Delhi team? He has been scoring consistently and against good teams and one might just see his name come back into reckoning for the ODI team. Yes, there are others who are performing well on the domestic scene but we all know that Jadeja can play at the top level and that makes his case special. I try to put Jadeja in the current Indian team based on my rememberance of his past and u know what ... it looks pretty damn good to me.
Anyway, the new year will see an Indian woman in the Australian Open tennis main draw ... Sania Mirza playing with a wild card ... after Nirupama Vaidhyanathan, she will be the first Indian woman to play a grand slam (if one forgets Shikha Uberai losing to Venus Williams in the US open ... coz Uberai is strictly not Indian ... yet). An indication of better things to come for Indian sport? Lets hope so.