Friday, August 26, 2005

Forgotten soldier

Was surprised to come across an article by G. Rajaraman in Outlook, 'sparing a thought' for Vinod Kambli. It came as a huge shock to read that not too many people were standing by him (and Rajaraman hoped he'd be proved wrong on this one).

I was reminded of the heady days of the spring of 1993 when Kambi went berserk against the Pommies and then against the hapless Zimbabweans, scoring two double centuries in a row - and also doing pretty well in the ODIs against England. Those who were at the Wankhede that day will remember the pasting Kambli gave a hapless John Emburey. Kambli (and Sachin in the second test and good ol' Azhar in the first Test) along with the spin trio of Kumble, Chauhan and Raju went a long way in the 'brownwash' the Pommies got.

If I remember right, Sachin went through a slightly lean patch (by his standards) against the Englishmen (the brilliant century at the Chepauk notwithstanding). In one of his interviews I clearly remember him making a remark about how Sachin took the elevator to the top, while he (Kambli) got there via the stairs.

Some time after that, the world began to see a very flashy Kambli - almost like he underwent a total metamorphosis into this supposedly 'cool dude', a far cry from his Kanjur Marg (??) origins. And with that, his cricket went downhill. His weakness against the short ball was brutally exposed when the Windies toured India in 1994-95, and I dont think he recovered from that point onwards.

For one, I could well imagine how much it hurts to see his childhood buddy Sachin be the toast of India. But then I guess Kambli has only himself to blame for his problems - all the partying and boozing has taken its toll. I remember watching him play a Ranji game against TN at the Guru Nanak grounds in Chennai in early 2002, and it was painful! It was tough to imagine that this was the same player who whacked the stuffings out of some of the better English bowlers, and here he was struggling miserably against some part-time TN bowler!

As far as I know, the Mumbai cricketing community is probably one of the closest-knit ones. So it comes as a huge surprise to read that Kambli was pretty much all on his own through his latest 'crisis'.

For every Tendulkar, there is a Kambli. For every Kumble, a Laxman Sivaramakrishnan. Both Kambli and Siva were the toast of Indian cricket once, but then they let it all slip away in the whirlpool of fame and femmes! Ofcourse Siva did manage to 'resurrect' himself (if thats the right word) as a TV commentator, and one only hopes that Kambli's stars will align themselves in a suitably lucky position soon.

1 comment:

arjun said...

Bala, your profile doesnt link to your blog! found it through technorati.com.

I dono if you know this but most of the blogs I link to on the side are of guys who call themselves quizzers.

for their knowledge...this dude kicks all your asses(that may just be me being biased towards the AM)

I guess I'll figure out what you do etc. by and by as I read your archives.