The Wall is gone! Long live this broad, robust replacement structure made out of bricks and mortar!
The retirement of great cricketers often leaves less of a hole than people imagine. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman recently left the game and many wondered how they could ever be replaced.
The thing is, India didn’t need to replace these cricketers when they were at their best. They needed to replace tiring men who were approaching middle age – fantastic yet fading batsmen.
If they had left at their peak, there would have been a greater impact because the next generation wouldn’t have been up and running, but India now have the likes of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni providing solidity and so the diminishing returns of the old boys can be swapped for the growing returns of batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara.
Nice double hundred, son
They’ll tell you otherwise, but India are spoilt for batsmen. The notion that the younger generation are ill-prepared or technically or mentally deficient is largely borne of the fact that the wrong players command the headlines. The wise write about Pujara’s understated class instead of Suresh Raina’s latest 36-ball fifty. It’s just that most people can’t find the time for wisdom.
But Pujara’s there, Ajinkya Rahane’s there and we’re sure there are others, doing mundane things regularly and reliably. These guys are suited to Test cricket, not premature, disproportionate acclaim.
Batsmen like Tendulkar, Sehwag and Kohli provide the best of both worlds and maybe this encourages public greed. But surely it’s enough for a batsman to be master of one world, slowly working his way into others? Why overlook players well-suited to Test cricket in favour of mentally or technically flawed batsmen who excel in other formats? That sort of quest for perfection is ultimately self-defeating.
Is Pujara here to stay?
Clearly India have made a good selection with Cheteshwar Pujara. It was only one innings, but it was plenty long enough for us to draw some conclusions.
In short, Pujara looks like a top order batsman who isn’t tempted to dick about and who just bloody well gets on with his job. Those are worthwhile qualities in any conditions, against any bowling attack.9 Appeals
It’s both sad and joyous that life moves on. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are gone, never to return, but that’s because they’re now middle-aged. Their best cricket is behind them and who wants to look forward to ever-lower high points. Far better to step into the unknown.
Cheteshwar Pujara might never be as good as those pair were, but you never know and not knowing can be half the fun. Anyone who’s spurned a pre-emptive toilet visit ahead of a long journey knows the truth of that.
Based on yesterday’s performance, Pujara’s career promises to be even more entertaining than the Will-I-Won’t-I Piss Myself game. He’ll face tougher challenges than James Franklin’s astonishingly diminished pace, but a Test hundred is never to be sniffed at, if only because all those hours at the crease create a uniquely foetid aroma.
In other news, Suresh Raina was caught behind for three.16 Appeals