It's shape-up-or-ship-out time for cricketers

Monday, 25 November 2013 - 12:11pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

For cricket fans, the last 10 days have given a glimpse of professionalism essential for the gentleman’s game. Swashbuckling batsman Virender Sehwag and spinner Harbhajan Singh were axed from the BCCI’s annual contract system.

Cricket has become a highly paid game. A cricketer earns at least Rs50 lakh when contracted by the BCCI. Besides, they also earn in lakhs when they turn out for India in T20s, ODIs and/or tests.

Thus, the total amount of money cricketers earn in a financial year runs into crores. Some surveys have put cricketers at par with a few corporate honchos. Naturally, when cricketers fail to deliver their best, questions will be raised.

Sehwag has failed to deliver. Recently, when he turned out for Delhi Ranji team, he played like a gully cricket batsman, and seemed to be banking on his glorious past. He hasn’t scored a 50 in his last 10 domestic match innings. According to cricket pundits, he has been either complacent or over-confident in his approach, taking his position in the Indian dressing room for granted.

Pundits even feel that if his poor performance with the bat continues for too long, he may even fall off the Delhi selectors’ radar. His reflexes as a batsman aren’t the same as five years ago. His eye-ball coordination, too, is failing to lift his average. With the South Africa tour to be announced shortly, Sehwag’s inclusion is a remote possibility, especially when his Delhi mate Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay are in good form.

On the other hand, Bhajji’s chances of making a comeback, too, are getting faded. He has 18 wickets to his credit in three Ranji Trophy matches. This may seem like Harbhajan is back in his element but most of these wickets have been taken on spinner friendly wickets. In the last match against Gujarat in Mohali, Bhajji’s limitations were exposed. The offie could manage to get just one wicket and could not create his spin-web on a wicket which helped pacers. Unfortunately for him, young spinners are performing really well. It seems like Bhajji may need a magic wand or the ‘meherbani’ of selectors to return to the Indian dressing room.

R Ashwin has not only shone with the ball, but his couple of good knocks including a century against West Indies recently have made him selectors’ number one spinner. He has developed good understanding and compliments left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. Ravindra Jadeja, despite having 5-wickets per match in 5 Tests, is warming benches. They have simply overshadowed Turbanator’s good performance in three Ranji Trophy matches. The trio has not only become a favourite of Sandip Patil and Co but also captain MS Dhoni, who has been using them effectively, albeit on the field.

By not offering contracts to Viru and Bhajji, BCCI has given hint to all those non-performing assets to deliver or be ready for consequences. If they, via selectors, can tell legend Sachin Tendulkar to decide on his retirement after he lost his golden touch (though a few call it a rumour), others are not Sachin. They will not get a call, but simply a pink slip. With tough competition, cricketers are surely going to be on their toes, trying to give more than 100 per cent each time.

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