Is Messr Vinod Kambli a liar?
Sachin Tendulkar’s schoolmate did a Kapil Dev on national television venting his angst at the perceived injustices done him by Indian selectors, pointing the finger of suspicion against his teammates for the 1996 World Cup semifinal debacle.
Kambli’s tears were on display when Team India crumbled to an ignominious defeat against the rampaging Sri Lankans of the 90's at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
The dashing left-hander was the last man standing in a shambles of an innings, but hardly gloriously.
To open a Pandora’s box, 15 years later, calls into question the man’s motives and character.
Mohammad Azharuddin termed the decision to bowl first “a collective decision.”
(As an aside, how do these collective decisions work? Are they put to vote? Are disagreements tabled? Isn’t it true that one or two propose and the rest acquiescently dispose?)
Wadekar confessed that the Indian team was overconfident and cocky in their approach.
But certainly no allegations of match-fixing could be levelled against his boys.
The left-hander quoted Wadekar as writing that Kambli was made the scapegoat for the horrific loss.
Kambli can claim that he never had a godfather among the wise men that choose players to represent the national side.
The Indian sports minister, Ajay Maken—quick to take his cue—-jumped into the fray asserting that Kambli’s allegations should be investigated.
Anything that makes the case for his proposed National Sports Bill is manna for the mantri.
Can Vinod Kambli’s accusations be taken at face value?
Or should we believe the flashy Hyderabadi, who confessed to match-fixing when pressed by the CBI and was banned for life by the BCCI?
(The ban was rescinded later by the Indian cricket board—not the ICC.Azharuddin’s quest for justice meanders on in the Hyderabad high court.)
For most Indian fans, the point is moot.
Much like doping in athletics, the spectre of match and spot fixing looms over the sport like a dark shadow dogging its very existence.
Corruption should be weeded out. Sport is pure and represents everything that’s good. It’s a microcosm of life without the politics. Fair play triumphs or so we would believe.
Cricket fans, however, recall the 1996 semifinal as a shameful moment in Indian sporting history when crowd violence ended a contest prematurely, tainting forever the sporting nature of Kolkatans.
Can we then blame our sporting heroes for having feet of clay? Aren’t they mirrors of ourselves?
Isn't this why Indian film stars have more temples devoted to them than any of the country’s sporting icons?
Doesn’t escapism obscure, nay, obfuscate reality?
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.