Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan got into a heated verbal duel today during the India-New Zealand cricket match. Ajit Agarkar, the man with a career “economy” rate (aah the irony of using the word economy in the context of Ajit Agarkar) of well over 5 , bowled an over where he gave 15 runs. Nothing new there.
At this point, we presume that Irfan must have said something to Agarkar.
Then Irfan ran into bowl and got blasted for an identical amount. And then Agarkar took a catch off Irfan and that did it.
India’s two spearheads started mouthing off at each other in the full glare of the cameras.
Team India…yeah !
Let me add, that tensions between two pace spearheads of a team is nothing new. Wasim and Waqar did not speak to each other for years and had many awkward moments on the field and in the dressing room. The two champions reacted by engaging in a game of one-upmanship by trying to get more and more wickets—‘ I am the best. I got more wickets’
And over here, Irfan and Agarkar are taking a leaf out of that book—-only their fight is like ‘ I am the best. I gave away 15 runs last over *and* took a catch. You only gave away 15 runs. Loser.”
My only regret is that it did not evolve into violence . As we used to say in Jadavpur University:
“Haath thaakte mukh keno?” [Why shout when you have hands?]
Javed Miandad raising his bat charging at Dennis Lillee. John Snow shoulder-butting Sunil Gavaskar sending him flying. Inzamam rushing into the crowd brandishing a bat to the tune of “Jab Tak Rahega Samosein Main Aloo”. Sylvester Clarke hurling a brick into the crowd. Rashid Patel, Raman Lamba and Manoj Prabhakar running around each other stumps in hand. Inzi and Younis Khan fighting in a football match.
All immortal images of the gentleman’s game.
Which brings me to the real issue. What’s happened to our team ? A year or two ago, they were all huddled up in a cuddle with Dinesh Mongia as the “Jaddo ki Jhappi” man. And today, it seems that everyone is going for each other’s throats. Zaheer Khan is evidently dropped for “disciplinary reasons” because he is upset at Irfan getting “first preference”. Nehra goes on record saying that Anil Kumble is the only match winner on the team (and not, for example, Harbhajan).
Anil Kumble lashes out at being rested and in a scary disassociative state, starts referring to himself in the 3rd person. Rahul Dravid looks sullen and morose at being “passed over”. Ganguly is cheerless, tense and strangely subdued (not to mention, sadly over-the-hill) —the only Gangulesque thing he did was come late for a press conference and even then he got pilloried (Come on guys he was back home celebrating his wife’s birthday……do you think “Crouching Tiger Pyar Ka Nagma” Ganguly was enjoying it ??) and Greg Chappell looks like a perennially angry school-master.
My suggestion: bring back Balaji. If his toothy, devil-may-care smile does not calm down nerves, then nothing will.
Well to be honest, the Indian dressing room has never been the calmest of places. Lala Amarnath was sent home from England for not being gentlemanly to the Maharaja captain, Sunil Gavaskar spoke of a dressing room fight between Faroukh Engineer and Syed Abid Ali (if my memory serves me correctly) that almost came to blows, the Indian Ambassador to England kicked out the entire Indian team for being bowled out for 42 (thanks Aniruddha), Kapil and Sunil Gavaskar never saw eye to eye (maybe because of the height difference) and Harsha Bhogle in Azhar’s biography writes how scandalized Azhar was at the street expletives Dilip Vengsarkar used to hurl at players from the dressing room. And even recently, the inscrutable John Wright shook Virendra Sehwag by the collar.
So maybe it’s nothing to be unduly worried about.
And whatever be the case we should always remember: it’s just a game.
Naaw it’s not. Who am I kidding?