Famous and infamous
Cricket as we all know has been a religion celebrated within the country. It is known as the only force to successfully unite the nation in celebration irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Cricket has also been a key source of ambition for many who aspire to make it to the largest stage wearing the colour blue to perform for their country. Amongst many who have made it to the top, the most popular name being referred to as a symbol of potential stardom is none other than Pranav Dhanawade. The boy who is a resident of Mumbai has managed to make headlines with his score of an unbeaten 1009 in an under sixteen inter school match earlier this month. Cricket in its modern times, is used to big centuries as not only the players but the game itself is changing. One has commonly witnessed centuries, double centuries, triples centuries and also one quatriple century by the legend Brian Lara. However an achievement such as an unbeaten 1009 can’t possibly be explained with phrases. Irrespective of who’s the opponent and what’s the platform, a record as big as that is a mark of will, endurance, concentration and hard work. However, there did seem the lack of team spirit.
On one hand as legends of the game, M S Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar congratulated Dhanwade for his achievement, on the other, former India Captain Rahul Dravid had other thoughts to reflect. In a speech just before the match, Rahul Dravid did address the obsession of reaching and beating records put as priority over the game itself. This particular game was an example of the same. Though Arya Gurukul had assembled a junior team to play against the more formidable opponents a lead of 400 plus was a sufficient target for victory. However, the coaches vision to let a batsman achieve a score so high not only was a sign of opportunity but also appeared as a sign of bullying against opponents who were not only weak but were already taken aback. Greed has been the point of discussion and disappointment in this situation. This was further confirmed as on the day before Dhanwade achieved his big feat his coach advised the 15 year old: “If you want to play at the Wankhede Stadium, you will need to score big. Fifties, sixties or even a hundred or two will not make a big impact” as it was reported by a popular Mumbai based daily newspaper.
Heading back to Rahul Dravid’s speech earlier in December at the MAK Pataudi memorial lecture, the former India captain and stalwart mentioned on how Cricket is losing out as a team effort. He further described his concern by comparing it to sports like football where the whole team performs as a whole supporting each other rather than running on his own. He added that the scenario of school level cricket is hence extremely upsetting as one’s greed to gain more is more than the greed for good sport and a further good game involving one and all in the modern day. Co incidentally, Pranav’s massive innings was very soon to follow. Dravid was further questioned about a particular Under 14 KSCA match where he said that, “In one game the score was some 325 for 1, there were 2-3 double hundreds and a few more big hundreds in that tournament. I want to ask AB de Villiers if he scored double hundreds in one-day games at 12-13?..... At that under-14 match where the score was 325-1, ask yourself what did the eight other players on the batting team do all day? At age group tournaments of this level, there need to be strict guidelines to allow more children to participate, rather than have the more accomplished kids to rack up big centuries. Those are important, yes, but in selection matches or zonal games. In school and club cricket, there should be some rules to even out the game-time available to everyone.”
As the under 16 match between KC Gandhi and Arya Gurukul had come to a close on day 1, Arya Gurukul was already bowled out for 32 and Dhanawade was unbeaten playing at 652. He had already broken a 117 year old record. His opponents were tired and clueless looking for every opportunity to come and fight back with whatever they had left with the bat. However, the KC Gandhi high school pushed on. Though they did declare at 1465 runs, the damage was done. Though there was an amazing performance at display, Cricket was humiliated as there lacked every bit of cricketing sense to reach that feat before declaration. Arya Gurukul coach Yogesh Jagtap also spoke to the media exclaiming his side of the story. He explained how the team put forward was not out of choice but out of compulsion. He spoke to the media saying, “but had we not fielded a team, we could have been denied entry next year. We were playing only for commitment.” He further exclaimed that this was something the coach from the other team knew about. He also knew that the team comprised of kids who had not played with a leather ball as much and were scared of getting hurt. That was also the reason behind 21 drop catches which would have otherwise stopped Pranav from the massive 1009* record that he otherwise secured.
The larger idea to be observed here is the fact that the coach wanted his ward to be popular with this world record.
This is sadly how we as a nation have become overtly obsessed with records as that seems to be the easy way to come into being noticed for reaching the larger platform in years to come. However, the cost paid against this is a large one. The individual today has become more important than the game itself. Though Dhanwade’s innings with his display of brilliance will always be remembered as a special one, it will also remain a match which would be remembered as the one where Cricket itself took the back seat.