Sarth Salunke, Pratik Bedekar, Ayush Dubey, Tejas Misar, Harshal Jadav and Swaraj Deshmukh – you don’t know who they are. It’s okay, you have no business knowing them.
After today, you will definitely not hear about them. Ever.
On the fifth day of 2016, Pranav Dhanawade smashed his way into the cricket record books and Sarth Salunke, Pratik Bedekar, Ayush Dubey, Tejas Misar, Harshal Jadav and Swaraj Deshmukh were the bowlers who suffered in the hands of the #KalyanGayle.
Scoring 1000 runs in an innings is no joke. You can’t do that shit even while playing book cricket. It takes talent to hit 129 fours and 59 sixes. It takes intense concentration and fitness to break records and go past milestones. But most importantly, it takes serious hunger to score those many runs. Facing 323 balls in any form of cricket is laudable but staying unbeaten at 1009 speaks volumes about a young man’s temperament.
Dhanawade did the unbelievable but it was dirty. He will be the toast of the media for some time and trust me, we will do everything to destroy him. He will be marked as the ‘special one’ and compared to Sachin Tendulkar. He will be hailed as the future of Indian cricket. Mumbai cricket will fast forward him into the Ranji team and who knows, his hitting prowess might even land him an IPL contract.
But what happens to those bowlers? The day Dhanawade starts his cruise towards stardom, the above five might have begun their journey towards oblivion. Salunke went for 284 runs in 20 overs, Bederkar conceded 241 in 18, Dubey went past 350 in his 23 overs while Misar was walloped for 142 in just six overs.
Mind boggling, isn’t it?
In India, every kid is born with a bat in hand. No matter how many wickets Ravinchandran Ashwin grabs in a year, being a bowler in this part of the world is a sinister crime. If you’re no good with the willow in India, you have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you.
Cricket was always a batsman’s game but the bowlers were in with a chance – they had six deliveries per over and 11 fielders to assist them. Now, they still have the same six deliveries and the 11 fielders but the match box-sized grounds, heavy willows, and the dead dodo tracks have turned the tables on them considerably. The result — the ABDs of the world are bowling us over with their 360 degrees hitting.
Take nothing away from Pranav Dhanawade. He’s a star. But spare a thought for the bowlers who faced the guillotine in the game? How humiliated must they be?
Imagine them in school tomorrow – the looks, the giggles, the silent mocks. Will they be able to pick up the red cherry again? Can those 15-year-olds go back to the nets and reassure themselves about their skills? How long will those scars take to heal?
Nowadays, cricket is all about the sixes and the fours. It wasn’t meant to be. It was supposed to be a battle between skilled individuals. The ‘battle’ part isn’t there anymore. It’s about surrender now — five and a half ounces of spherical leather being beaten to the pulp by a massive log of wood.
It’s dirty. It’s unhealthy.
It’s not what the game should have evolved into. Sadly, it has and as Rahul Dravid said in his Pataudi Memorial lecture, this ‘see-ball-hit-ball’ epidemic might cost us some serious talent. Mick Lewis never played cricket for Australia after that game at Johannesburg. Will these five play again?
I don’t know and I bet, none of us will hear about them from here on. Who cares? We never knew them anyway.