Cheteshwar Pujara brings a future of runs

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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.


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  1. “Less of a whole?” Does that mean they leave more of a partial, whatever that might mean? Is this post-modern literature? Because I don’t understand post-modern literature. I haven’t even finished my first cup of morning coffee. My life would be much simpler if that were a typo. Otherwise I might have to stop reading this site.

    1. Amended. Thanks.

      This is what happens when you start writing posts which are more than one sentence long.

    2. I believe that “less of whole” is a brilliant insight, of such depth that HRH felt it necessary to disown it lest the simulacra we call “cricket” is lost, and his subjects, taking it too concretely, fall into a horrific search to distinguish “real cricket”, “T20”, and “it’s just not . . .”, one that will ultimately lead to romantic suicide. Or, to put it concretely, we should think not think of the construct we call “batsmen” as individualized entities, but as transforming headmasters that we insist on calling “Pujara”, “Dravid”, or even “Kallis”, but are a single entity whose avatars are simply a manifestation of their detachable heads (which themselves are simulacra of the construct we call “human”). Yet we cannot follow this analysis to its logical conclusion, lest it lead not only to romantic suicide, but plummeting action figure sales. You are too merciful, oh King.

  2. That is because India, for a long time, have been mixing up formats during selection. Shorter form wonders are fast tracked to the test side at the cost of built-for-TestCricket players like Pujara. Or even Badri, who averaged around 30 in two tests with a half century against Steyn and Morkel and was deemed a failure and deemed permanently incapable of playing test cricket. Yet, the Yuvrajs and Rainas get a 1000 chances based on their recent success in ODIs or T20s. And so it has been for a long, long time

    The reverse doesnt hold true – Test players dont get selected in shorter formats for good performance in tests.
    Something tells me that advertising contracts that the shorter form stars easily land has something to do with this.

    Basically, player does well in T20s. Gets advertising contracts. Advertising agency/product-owner realises the player needs to be a test player to get “full respect” and “hypeability”. Pulls strings. And gets umpteen chances for the said player until the player scores a few half centuries and a few 100s in easy conditions, and that is shown as proof for his capability for test cricket. These players are also groomed to say the right thing and media space is bought for such blabberings.

    It is why Raina claims he is “built for test cricket”. That’s his adcvertising agency planting ideas in the minds of people – when Raina scores well against Haryana in Lucknow, he’ll probably reiterate his build for test cricket. And when he does well in the T20 tour to follow, a case will be made for his test inclusion, despite rank failures across conditions and opposition and showing faulty technique consistently.

  3. To give the new selection panel some credit, they seem to have learned after the England series that the best place for Raina is as far away from the Test team as possible. He isn’t in the squad for this series, which means both Murali Vijay and Rahane are ahead of him in the current pecking order.

    Now if only someone could summon up the balls to drop Gambhir, and young Sachin were to decide to retire, we might get Rahane, who averages over 60, and Tiwary, who averages over 55, in first class cricket, into the team. Then you’ve got something.

    Sigh. This could be a long wait.

    1. It really doesn’t look as though your critical changes to the batting line up will be necessary this autumn, Uday. I’d relax if I were you.

    2. I think Gambhir can be given a break … he’s played 4 series outside the subcontinent and averaged 89 in New Zealand, and 60 in South Africa. The other two were the England and Australia series last season.

      He’s clearly gotten into a technical issue with where his stumps are over the last couple of years and needs to get it sorted out. It would help if he got his head straightened, but he shouldn’t be written off entirely.

      On re-reading Uday’s post though, I realize that this is exactly what he is calling for .. Giving Gambhir a break.

  4. No,Gambhir will score runs in this series and then give long interviews about how his critics were wrong and he is the new Sunny Gavaskar. If there were 5-6 consecutive overseas series, that’s when the Yuvis, Rainas and Gambhirs can be done with for good.

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