Sunday, 22 April 2007

The Prince departs...

First an admission. I belong to that tribe, which would go to their grave, whining Brian Lara did not get the team he deserved. It was more than evident once again in his final ODI yesterday.

First Marlon Samuels committed the heinous crime of getting Lara run out in his last appearance (In hindsight, probably this was only fair because no bowler was good enough to get Lara’s prized wicket). Then their brain-dead bowlers denied a decent farewell to their captain by hemorrhaging runs and failing to defend an imposing total of 300.

Conned into believing in an improbable West Indies win, I was readying to forgive Gayle.

For those who saw him in the ICC Champions Trophy, the Gayle we saw in the World Cup looked like an imposter, a look-alike at best. In Champions Trophy, he seemed capable of batting blindfolded. In World Cup, even blindfolded bowlers could beat his bat.

If well begun is half done, West Indies lost half the battle every time Gayle failed. And Gayle was incredibly consistent at that. He never realised the worth of putting a premium to his wicket, nor did it sink in him that his off-spinners in the Caribbean conditions could prove as stifling as the hanging ropes. But again, I was ready to forgive him as Gayle sought his redemption yesterday.

Gayle's apparently got his timing wrong to show that he still can bat. After all, the semifinal door had been slammed on West Indian faces. More importantly, we wanted to see Lara and see him sizzle in his swansong. So every time Gayle hit a four or a six, the crowd just purred in indignation at the distraction. “Can we have the real action please?”, asked the choc-a-bloc Kensington Oval (when last did you see a full house in a World up match?).

Subsequently Lara came and went in a span of 17 balls. Since he took to the field to his haring up the stairs before vanishing behind the dressing room, the man seemed greater than the game itself.

Samuels' one banality sent moans across the boisterous stadium. He must have prayed there was no ground beneath his feet so that he could hide somewhere. The dismissal will surely haunt the poor guy for some time.

But along with Gayle, I was ready to pardon him as well. For like Gayle -- Smith too -- Samuels also struck a half century to ensure a decent farewell for his captain.

We sincerely prayed for a West Indies win yesterday. Lara did not deserve to go a defeated man, for he has been an out and out success story, throughout. Even when his side lost, he managed to win. Let down by a team of perpetual pretenders and abysmally ill-equipped dressing-roomies, Lara excelled not because of the team but in spite of it. But again his team let him down, for one last time.

It's easy to dub him a loner and dump him but great minds tend to go into a self-created cocoon to protect their genius from mediocrity and we should not have problem with that.

An enigma? a selfish giant? a loner genius? call him what may wish, cricket just got pauper yesterday.

1 comment:

news said...

Good cricket nonetheless. And, at last, atleast one man got a deserving farewell -- no, not Lara but Fletcher.