E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The two men were dressed in olive greens. Greg Chappell and Col. Dilip Vengsarkar were ready to face the war of World Cup 2007 in front of the media.
“Like a scientist, you have been conducting experiments ever since you took over as India’s coach. Now that the team is to be announced, are the experiments finally over?”
“I have no control over the experiments any more, as they have taken control of me! But, yes. I am ready for some new ones which I hope will work on the field,” replied Chappell.
“Can you elaborate?”
“You have all been asking about Sachin Tendulkar, his form, where he will play etc. The first thing I noticed when I came to India is, Sachin writes with his left hand. That gave me an idea! Whenever we pulled him out of the team saying his right hand had not healed, Sachin was secretly practicing batting left hand at his MIG Club in Bandra during nights. He also coaches his son, who is a lefthander. Now he is ready and will bat left hand in World Cup.”
“Dhoni has a flair for fast bowling. In fact, in the nets, he is yards faster than Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel …. Dhoni will open the bowling for us….”
“What about wicket keeping? Will Dinesh Kaarthick be the ‘keeper?”
“No. Dravid will keep the wickets. He has done the job earlier in West Indies and his experience will be very useful.”
“Who will open the bowling with Dhoni?”
“Sourav Ganguly. Remember he took maximum number of wickets in Toronto against Pakistan, 6 to 7 years back? High humidity and breeze across the sea help swing bowlers in Kingston and Barbados. In such conditions, Ganguly is unplayable… He will open bowling with Dhoni.”
“What about Irfan Pathan?”
“He is a talented player and we cannot ignore him. He will open the batting for us. Harbhajan, Kumble and Zaheer have all been getting good scores in Test Cricket. I hope they click and contribute to our batting in a big way in one day cricket too.”
The Press Conference went on like this when the coach and chief selector answered all the questions, with twists and turns, which completely baffled the media and the public watching TV….
Finally, somebody asked, “It is fairly clear, you are going to conduct your experiments even during World Cup. Who will bat in Number 4 and 5?”
Just then Sharad Pawar came on the scene and showed his ‘Thums Up’ sign for the duo.
Col. Vengsarkar said, “Now that we have received the go ahead from ICC, we can announce. Greg will come in at No. 4 and I will play No. 5! We have just received the approval from ICC. We all need your best wishes for our team’.
The press, dumbfounded at the mother of all experiments, started clapping.
“Clap, Clap, Clap….”
“Tap, Tap, Tap….”
My wife was shouting at me….
“Why are you tapping the chair? Dravid and Jayawardene are about to toss. Wake up!”