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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Martin Crowe retires @ 48 – the tragedy at Nagpur (which incidentally was his last match)

Even on a day, when there was no play,  Sachin continued to dominate the news.  Whilst some speculated on the possible blackwash, others were awash with Sachin’s possible 100th ton at this home ground.  Suddenly some speak of his additional pressure arising out the expectations..  Wankhede is dear and special to him and no body else would have had this distinction or this pressure ?  - he might say that records just come by and he does not play for them… there is always the ODI series (5 matches at that) assuming that he does play in them.  – it is fast becoming a National obsession and people do start counting the moment he gets into his thirties – or is it worser !
Elsewhere news of a great player occupied a small place – not primarily because of the concentration on Sachin -  but perhaps a player retiring at 48 is no news – even if it was a player who had contributed immensely to New Zealand cricket.

Earlier, Martin Crowe had announced his desire to return to club cricket at ripe age of 48 but was forced to retire hurt 3 balls into his first innings.   Crowe pulled a muscle while batting for Cornwall against Parnell on November 19.  A jerk of the hip, a single to midwicket adding to his countless runs was the style of this high scoring right hander in his hay days.. he was known to rotate the strike, run so well and keep the score card ticking all the time but while getting off the mark in the match, he pulled a thigh muscle running a single into covers.   He was quoted as writing - "I pulled a hip flexor in July, a hamstring in August, a groin in October and now a thigh, all upper left leg, all compensating for a dodgy arthritic right knee. No tears, but frustrated after a lot of hard work getting ready."
Martin Crowe spoke of his  decision to return to competitive cricket in May 2011, 15 years after his retirement. He had been forced to quit international cricket due to a bad knee. He had said he saw his comeback as a means of self-motivation and a tool to get fit - and also an opportunity to score the 392 runs he needs to tally 20,000 first-class runs. That was not to be !!
In a Test career spanning 77 matches, Crowe scored 5444 runs with 299 as high highest, averaged 45.36, scored 17 centuries.  In One dayers, he scored 4704 in 143 matches with 4 centuries and averaged 38.55 – a good quality player, he was.  He last played Test cricket in India in Nov 1995 – when Narendra Hirwani took 6 wickets in a dull drawn match.   His last one day appearance was also in India in Nov 1995, when India lost by a very huge margin of 99 runs.  He made 63 on a day when Astle made merry and Kiwis amassed 348/8.  Not many would know the tragedy on that day, which happened to be his last International appearance.
Sadly in that match at Nagpur, there was a terrible tragedy when a part of the stadium collapsed, killing 9 and injuring 70 people.  It was the parapet wall of a newly-built extension  that came thundering down.  In an insensitive way, the Officials did not dare to call off play, citing  fear of crowd reaction.  The players  reportedly were unaware of the deaths.
But to have a game when people had died at the venue, should rankle as India’s moment of sporting shame…  Will anybody care to know what happened after that grisly mishap – some reports state that 13 people died……. ?  - sure it was a flimsy make-shift stricture made with the avarice of authorities to rake in money….  the relatives of victims would not have got justice – none held responsible for the mishap and none directed to pay compensation…… none sentenced either for the poor design, bad construction or for the negligent act of allowing people on such weak structure.  Reportedly FIR was filed against the VCA Office bearers, architect and builder – but why there was no prosecution – general amnesia or were they powerful enough to evade the crime probe.   
Matches will be played, records would tumble – but does anybody mourn the death of these foolish cricket fans !!!
With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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