ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Bangalore: R.K. Narayan‘s daughter didn’t become a writer; R.K. Laxman‘s son didn’t become a cartoonist. Shivarama Karanth‘s son didn’t become a writer or a yakshagana artiste. M.N. Srinivas‘s daughter didn’t become a sociologist. Chennaveera Kanavi‘s sons didn’t become poets.
Yet, Sunil Gavaskar‘s son played for India. K. Srikkanth‘s son and V. Sivaramakrishnan‘s son play for Tamil Nadu. Shivlal Yadav‘s son plays for Hyderabad. Mohammed Azharuddin‘s son auditioned for Calcutta Knight Riders. And so on.
On the strength of the evidence on hand, it is safe to conclude that cricketing talent flows smoothly in the blood of Indian cricketers from generation to generation. All you have to do is to hope and pray that you are born to a cricketer as a male child, and you are set for life.
The most conclusive piece of evidence comes from Karnataka, where cricketers have “run the game” for a decade and more, because apparently cricket is best run by cricketers.
Here, magically and miraculously, Brijesh Patel’s son Udit Patel plays for the State. Roger Binny‘s son Stuart Binny plays for the State. B. Raghunath‘s son Mithun Beerala played for the State. Syed Kirmani‘s son Sadiq Kirmani is always knocking the doors.
How this medical miracle has been achieved by Karnataka’s cricketers who “run the game” is something genome scientists might like to probe. But this medical miracle has once again been revealed to the world after Karnataka’s defeat inside five sessions of a Ranji Trophy semi-final against Baroda.
So far, the new cricketers who “run the game”—KSCA president Anil Kumble and KSCA secretary Javagal Srinath—have directed all their negative energy following the defeat at the quality of the pitch prepared by the hosts at the Reliance Stadium.
But surely, they have a question or two to answer themselves about the medical miracle that Karnataka cricket is being strangled by.
# Like, how does Udit Patel, who has 45 wickets from 19 first-class matches, figure in match after match? (In contrast, Tamil Nadu’s R. Ashwin has 134 wickets from 45 matches.)
# Like, how does a fat, unfit Stuart Binny, whose batting average is what is bowling average should be and vice-versa, get in ahead of all-rounders straining every sinew, notwithstanding a rare burst of heroics?
# And above all, there is the curious case of Sunil N. Raju, son of the cricketer-turned-KSCA pitch curator, Narayana Raju.
With a sum total of 92 runs and seven wickets from four first-class matches in two years, Sunil Raju magically made it to the Karnataka Ranji semi-final squad for the fifth game of his career last week.
He scored a grand total of two lovely runs and took two invaluable second-innings wickets when the hosts were chasing 43, and this after being called for chucking during his only over in the first innings.
Makarand Waingankar, the KSCA’s talent scout during the Brijesh Patel era, writes in today’s Hindu:
“Karnataka took the risk of playing an off-spinner who is on the list of BCCI for suspect action. When his team needed him the most after Baroda was five for 44, he was cautioned by the umpire in his first over. So he could bowl only one over in the crucial first innings.
“The irony is that Javagal Srinath, who is in the BCCI committee to identify the bowlers with suspect action, is also the secretary of the KSCA.
“If the bowler in question was selected it was the biggest folly as they played one spinner short. And they made an off-spinner who had won them the game with bat and ball against U.P. sit out.”
No prizes for guessing whose cause Waingankar is batting for—Brijesh Patel’s son Udit.
Still as M/s Kumble and Srinath, both of them sons of non-cricketers, go about the task of cleaning the augean stables of Karnataka cricket, they have a couple of questions to answer.
Questions that their friends in the cricket media in Bangalore are unlikely and/or unwilling to ask.
# One, do they honestly believe that cricket is in the genes of Karnataka cricketers that their sons should be so blindly promoted?
# Two, how much longer will they tolerate this nonsense while they wax eloquent about giving talent and excellence their rightful due?
# Three, at this rate, do they really think cricketers know best about the game and its interests?
Photograph: From left, Roger Binny, Anil Kumble, Brijesh Patel and Javagal Srinath at a press conference shortly before the KSCA elections in early November 2010 (courtesy The Hindu)
Javagal Srinath: The most famous Mysorean in the world?
External reading: How Udit Patel edged out Mysore’s Dharmichand