Sachin – are you there?

When I got to know that India and England were going to clash in a Test series this summer, my 1st reaction was – oh no! – Not because I didn’t want the series to happen, not because I didn’t want to see India play – but simply because I have hardly had the time to savor the India World Cup win – there has been non-stop cricket since then. Also, anything that India does now will not come close to matching their feat on the eventful day of April 2nd.

In a way, we could blame it on India’s schedule – immediately after the World Cup, even before the players got over the WC hangover, the IPL started. Yuvraj Singh was clearly still basking in the glory of the Player of the Tournament award in the World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar appeared more relaxed than ever in a cricket field now that his big ambition of a World Cup win was over etc. After the 2 month long IPL came the India – Windies series, a completely listless and useless series – but it gave chance to the players on the fringe to show their mettle. The only positive thing that came out of it was the bowling of Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma. Before you could blink an eyelid, the England series was around the corner.

England is a place where you need some time to get adjusted to – some of the Big guns in Indian cricket were coming back after a well-deserved break after IPL – Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan being the most important ones. The problem with modern day cricket is that it takes time for the body and mind to adjust to Test Matches – especially in conditions where the ball is swinging merrily and more importantly, where the bowlers in the opposition are good enough to take advantage of that situation, like the English bowlers are.  Also, the Fab 3 of Indian cricket – Dravid, Tendulkar and VVS are all approaching an age, where reflexes are generally on the wane and so, it takes that bit extra from them to be successful. Besides, Tendulkar was also coming back from a break.

The result is there to see – Dravid has been the most consistent and successful batsman from the Indian team so far (I shall not get into his slip fielding right now) – clearly not playing the WC and also playing the India-Windies tournament has kept him fresh, hungry and physically sharp for the tournament. VVS has played the odd good innings but perished to his pull shots 3 times in this series. On the other hand, Tendulkar seems to be sleep-walking in this series – i don’t agree to the fact that he is looking for his 100th ton – he is too good a player to worry about that. If he does not get it in the Test matches, the 1-dayers are there too. If not in England, then India is always there.

The problem is (and I say this tongue-n-cheek) that he may not have the same intensity as before. I have been following his cricket ever since he broke into the Indian cricket team (i still have the SportsWorld that carried a special edition on him way back in 1987). He has always been a person who has been passionate about winning. Having achieved pretty much everything – Test #1, World Cup, highest runs, 99 100s – he may be a little less intense in this tournament. Probably, he needs this failure to rekindle that fire – to egg him on to play fluently as he used to before.  To be fair to him, even i need to rekindle that energy to watch cricket again – after the World Cup, cricket matches have been a blur for me – it will need something special to turn that corner.

My gut says that it will be Tendulkar who will do that – here is to hoping that the rest of the series will see the best of Tendulkar again.

Sachin – knock, knock – are you there? – can you hear me? – dust the rust and put on your dancing shoes. India, more than ever, needs you today.