Flopping back into his “chief selectorial” couch, Dilip Vengsarkar lets out a sigh of relief. Looking at BCCI supremo, Sharad the Powerful he whines:
“This is going to be a tough day of interviews. The entire building is crawling with ex-Indian cricketers, each claiming to be the ideal person to be the next Indian coach. Just now, I was in the loo letting fly when I saw a hand trying to push in a resume underneath the cubicle from the adjoining potty enclosure. And judging from how slowly the hand moved, I am positive that was Venkatesh Prasad. On the way to this room, I accidentally bumped into Raghuram Bhatt, Bharati Arun and several other Indian ex-cricketers who I didn’t know even existed, each with a Vision 2011, hand-written on the back of old movie posters.”
Sharad Pawar opens one eye. “Are they from Mumbai?”
Vengsarkar nods. No they are not.
Diana Eduljee, ex-woman cricketer and resident-expert on CNN-IBN and also part of the coach selection committee said: “This is unfair. Noone pays any attention to woman’s cricket.”
Paying no attention to her, Dilip Vengsarkar shouts to the doorman: “Let the first candidate in”.
Kiran More enters and gets seated. Standing up, he delivers the following opening statement:
“I am happy to be here, you know, being able to present my case as to why, you know, I am the best choice for India’s next coach. At quarter the price that Greg charged, I can do the same things that he did, lose bladder-control and leak everywhere, you know, make the players wear silly hats — actually I stole his notebook from his bedroom (please don’t ask me what I was doing there) and have memorized everything. Why do you need Whatmore when you have KiranMore? And remember, the “More” is our national bird….(shaking his ass like a dancing peacock)…you”
Vengsarkar : “Yes we know. Thank you sir, we shall take that under consideration.”
Pawar whispers to Vengsarkar: “Keep the fact that he is anti-Dalmiya in his record.” Vengsarkar nods.
Diana yelps out at the next entrance..
“Whoa…white man.White man. Dilip,you told me only Indian coaches….then how come this man is white..”
“Relax”, smiled the new entrant, “I am Mohinder Amarnath underneath 10 bottles of “Fair and Lovely”. This time, I am taking no chances.”
Diana: “No chances?”
Mohinder: Yes mam. This is what I said when I lost out to a foreigner in 2005 for the position of India’s coach.
“Agar aap samajhte hain ke kisi ka rang gora hai aur chamdi alag kism kee hai to vo behtar hai, to mai bhee Fair and lovely lagana shuru kar deta hu ke mera rang bhee waisa ho jaaye.” (“if you think that just because someone’s colour is white and his skin is different that makes him better then even I will begin using Fair and Lovely so I can make my colour like that”), he (Mohinder) said, when asked about the trend of all Asian teams appointing foreign coaches. He didn’t believe he should be India’s coach because he was the best possible candidate, just that he was Indian. When his views on the use of technology were sought, he replied, with a straight face, “I don’t have laptop. I only have a lap.”
Diana screamed: “Lap?What lap chi chi…..”
“Relax madam”, pacified Dilip,”what he means is that he does not know the difference between a cover drive and an USB drive but can discipline Indian players by spanking them on his lap.”
(To Mohinder):” Thank you.Your resume with your job experience (coach of Bangladesh in the early 2000s) and stint with Rajasthan is already on record. You do not need to apply again. A word of advice: do apply skin-brightening lotion evenly over your face—-may I suggest Harbhajan Singh’s salon where Sylvie will take care of you.”
Guard interrupts: “Sir down-stairs Krish Srikkanth has been trying to get in but is being restrained by security. He keeps shouting that we only need Indian coach for the team not any foreign one…
Pawar whispers again: “So he wants the job,does he?”
Vengsarkar whispers back: “Of course he does. Who wants to be on CNN-IBN for the rest of his life?”
Diana Eduljee glares.
Sandip Patil sidesteps the guard and enters. Pawar’s face lights up.
Patil says: ” I presume I do not need to repeat my record with the Kenyan team. It was only due to my excellent strategizing that we were able to win games in the 2003 World Cup by just taking the field while our opponents were just not able to turn up. And just to show that my dil always beats for India even when I am coaching Kenya, during that match against India when India were in a spot of bother, I let the spinners operate when Sourav Ganguly was batting instead of bringing back the seamers…(smiling) I told them that Ganguly loves playing seamers and pacers and cannot read spin…..”
Pawar leans over to Vengsarkar: “Helped Sourav Ganguly? Hmm now that I remember was this man not involved with Debashree Ray, the Bengali bombshell in the 80s? I suspect a Dalmiya plant here.”
Vengsarkar looks up to Patil: “We will call you, if we are interested.”
The guard pokes his head.
“Some Bedi in here to see you sir.”
Sharad Pawar lights up.
“Mandira Bedi….oooh…show her in. Just wait till I put some perfume on my body.”
Pawar’s eyes bulge out of socket.
“W-hattt… this is not Mandira Bedi with the big….this is Bishan Singh Bedi with the big mouth…….security security…”
Vengsarkar: “Yes the same man who when he was manager told the press that we should dump the Indian team into the Arabian Sea and suggested that Srinath play for the Sharjah team and is now known to be permanently pissed…..”
As burly guards catch hold of a struggling Bedi, Bishan Singh Bedi shouts :”Please please let me be the coach…I will stop being pissed off all the time. Don’t you understand I am angry because no-one gives me anything significant.”
Sharad Pawar wipes his temple with his hanky.
“Phew. This is precisely the reason why we did not invite him to the ex-captain’s conference. Just like we did not invite Ajit Wadekar, who despite being a Mumbaikar opposed me, the great Sharad Pawar, in the Mumbai Cricket Association polls……aah the humiliation to him is sweet…”
And then he enters. Wearing a Proline tshirt from the 80s and cool shades even inside the room, Ravi Shastri walks in.
Sharad Pawar exults: “Perfect”. Vengsarkar smiles and motions for Shastri to sit.
Shastri: “I have always wanted to give back to Indian cricket if not for anything but for providing me an endless supply of star-struck girls. You all have heard my unbiased and erudite commentary, where I have always railed against regionalism in Indian cricket, which (looking at Pawar) should convince you that I am your man. I have the unique experience of having being boo-ed at every cricket stadium in the country when I was a player so much so that “Gali gali main shor hain, Rajiv Gandhi chor hain” and “Shastri hai hai” are now considered to be the two defining slogans of the 80s.”
Vengsarkar asks: “How does that help you in being India’s coach?”
Shastri: “Simple. I am impervious to criticism.I also propose that we take Venkatesh Prasad as bowling coach because he is Indian, because he can help both spinners as well as pacers as he himself was neither and because he really wants the job, having been lobbying for it for many years, on television channels, newspapers and to anyone who will listen. To me that desperation counts for more than the skills of a Fannie De Villiers or Alan Donald.”
Pawar whispers to Vengsarkar. Vengsarkar nods.
A thumbs up is given.
Diana Eduljee looks on sullenly.