01 August, 2021

This Is Being Sent Upstairs

Sardesai’s playing XI is unrealistic, the subject’s stories familiar. Only when he dons the garb of a journalist do the stories yield extra spin and bite.

Photograph by Getty Images
This Is Being Sent Upstairs

I once asked the legendary Tiger Pat­audi if he always got the team he wanted. “I got my eleven; the res­erves were sometimes so-and-so’s cousin or that other one’s nep­hew,” he said. So, even in the 1960s, the squad was a mixture of merit and com­promise. The proportions have ste­adily changed since. “Seventy years after Independence, we could well argue that cricket is one of the few largely meritocratic activities in the country,” says Sardesai, and he is right; it is an important transformation.

No cricket eleven, whether chosen by professional selectors (and remember, in their case, selection precedes performa­nce) or cricket lovers is guaranteed to be universally acceptable. It might seem churlish, therefore, to criticise a purely personal choice, but Democracy’s XI is a team with only two bowlers,  so it cannot, in all fairness, actually take the field. If the intent was to represent Indian democracy, then others might have fit the bill too and made for greater balance. Players from...

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