By Mridul Bora
O ne of the highlights of this year's Ranji Trophy qualifiers, is the splendid performance of the emerging and determined Assam cricket team. They have not only shaken opponents with some heroic performances, but literally compelled all the bigwigs of Indian Cricket to stand up and take notice. Assam has been the underdogs for donkeys years, in the context of the tiol scerio. But as things keep on changing, this young team is on the threshold of erasing all earlier low memories and rewriting the cricketing destiny of our wonderful State, with golden letters this time.
Assam has qualified for the next round in an emphatic style, securing 3rd position in their league. Formidable opponents like even Delhi and Rajasthan had to bite the dust in front of Assam. But it is worth wondering and alyzing, how this dramatic transformation came about, which has ebled Assam to make such a pleasant turround. Let us try to find out the reasons of this remarkable improvement of our State cricket team.
One of the main reasons of our success has been the hostile bowling of our opening pace bowlers. It is said that genuine pace bowlers always hunt in pairs. That is a part of cricketing folklore. Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, Kapil Dev and Karsan Ghavri, Andy Roberts and Michael Holding, James Anderson and Stuart Broad come to my mind, of some of the pace bowlers hunting in pairs and giving opponent batsmen sleepless nights. But in the context of Assam, two fast bowlers from Barpeta district – Krish Das and Arup Das have emerged. Especially, Krish Das has used the red cherry with his full fury and it is heartening to see celebrity opening batsmen of other states gasping for breath, in the face of such an onslaught. It is more than fair that Krish Das scalped the prestigious wicket of former Test cricketer Gautam Gambhir for the 100th wicket of his brilliant career. Nine years ago, Krish Das was knocked down by a speeding truck and was bedridden for a long time. It was very unlikely that he could play again. But the great coach and good Samaritan Sath Kumar groomed, motivated and trained Krish Das to his present stature. Krish Das is the third highest wicket taker in Ranji Trophy this season and has already caught the attention of tiol selectors. God willing, some better performances and a push from the right quarters (which matters) should see this well built young man to be the first Assamese cricketer to wear the Indian blues. I am predicting this though I am not a professiol astrologer.
Another reason for Assam's success is the cool captaincy of Gokul Sharma, who has very intelligently and shrewdly handled the resources in hand and remained very resolute when the chips were down. The best captain may not be the best player on display, but he is the soul behind the rise or fall of his regiment. Mike Brearly of England, one of the finest captains the game has ever seen, was not having the best statistics. But leaders are born and not made, as the saying goes. Gokul Sharma has been the anchor around which the ship has been secured, even at times of turbulence.
The rising star of Assam cricket has been Rahul Hazarika. A lot of people may have missed out on the fact that he has scored two double centuries and one century in this year's CK yadu Trophy. The worthy son of an illustrious father, who was himself was a fine cricketer – Gautam Hazarika, the young Rahul has shown dogged determition and glimpses of his talent in the few chances he got. The future augurs well for this young man, if this jewel is taken proper care of.
Arun Karthik, Swarupam Purkayastha, Abu Nechim, Amit Verma, Pritam Das, Kul Saikia and in fact each and every member of the Assam cricket team put in stellar performances. The players have combined very well and the buoyant team spirit can be judged from the fact, that Assam has given better performances against tougher teams, unlike in the past, when the team used to suddenly fall down like a house of cards. An indomitable spirit has replaced the fear of failure. Each member is making a statement with assertion – either with the cherry or with the willow. If the bowlers have often disturbed the furniture, with hostile fast bowling or crafty slow turners, opponent bowlers have been made to go on a leather hunt by our skilled batsman. One other fact that has also emerged is the improvement in smart fielding, in the slips cordon or any other part of the ground. Players are willing to dive and catch each and every ball, with a never-say-die attitude.
Now the questions emerges- Where do we go on from here? Cricket Administration in Assam needs skilled, experienced Ex-Cricketers to come and take charge. Ex- Players like ba Konwar, Mun Kakati,Gautam Hazarika, Gautam Dutta, Biswajeet Majumdar and all such other Great players would make much more sensible and meaningful cricketing sense than a Bikash Baruah. With such a vibrant and spirited team in hand, we cannot let some unscrupulous people, to run the State Cricket machinery, who maybe even doesnot know the actual length of a Cricket pitch. Sophisticated gadgets like Bowling machines , Snickometers, Slow motion replays should be provided in all Rural districts of Assam. Use of In- depth technology like Video Alysis, Computerised study of bowling action, Modern and effective Exercise and Dieting programmes is the call of the day. School Cricket has to be properly organized, in all small cities and all Districts of Assam. Young talent has to be spotted, reared, trained and given all facilities to be able to do wonders on a later date.
Regarding inclusion of our Players in the tiol team, if there has to be push from High power centres or key personnel, so be it. If a mediocre player like Ajit Agarkar can play more than 300 Intertiol matches for India, why not Krish Das or Arup Das ? After even 300 matches, I today feel that the bowling average of Ajit Agarkar should have been his batting average. All said and done, it is no secret that even Talented players do need a God Father for their usherance. If a Great Gentleman of Assam can cast a crucial veto and select the Emperor of BCCI, then Yes…. It would not be a greater crime if the Big guys gives a push and gets Krish Das to put on his Indian Cap… it is only a matter of conviction and an urge to support positive things…. Talent is in abundance… In Assam. We need a push. While at Rome, we need to be like Romans and not Greeks and Spaniards…. Time has come to assert Assam on the tiol Scerio, maybe even in Cricket…… and to confirm that we are an integral part of India… and very crucial…. Being a person with resoble diligence, if Debashish Saha can become an Indian Idol or hid can become a tiol figure, then in the field of Cricket…. I see no reason of Krish Das or Arup Das not bowling alongside a Umesh Jadav or Ishant Sharma, as all of them have special divine blessings, which we call Talent. We expect more Good and positive things to happen in Assam Cricket from now on.
(The author is a freelance writer and an entrepreneur)