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Kambli and the art of staying in the news


Vinod Kambli. When I utter those two words what do you remember? Do you remember the promising young man who announced his arrival on the Test scene with back to back double centuries? Or do you remember the inconsolable, broken man walking off the pitch after the ’96 World Cup Semi-Final fiasco?
Most probably neither. Those memories have been wiped, overwritten by his frequent appearances on TV that inadvertently end with him bawling like a baby and us changing the channel. And this is the legacy he will leave behind.
When Kambli broke on to the scene we were all very excited to have two exciting young prospects in the team. Kambli and Sachin had rewritten the record books as school boys and we were looking forward to them standing back to back fighting off the bowling attack from around the world while taking India to glory. We had found our Batman and Robin!

But that was short lived as Kambli’s career careened from the brink of greatness to a free fall in to the abyss that he could never get out of. In his last 10 Test innings he averaged just 14.7 and in over 100 ODI matches his average was not so impressive 32.59. Lots of things were to be blamed. Some said he could handle the sudden adulation. Some blamed all the endorsement money he was making as the distraction. Whatever be the reason, he floundered as a player at both the international as well as the domestic level. He did make a few comebacks and to be fair to him he did have more than his share of bad luck. Like that freak ankle injury that derailed his comeback just before it was to start.

And then he disappeared. He disappeared from our lives completely barring odd discussions about his failure or about that World Cup match. His name also stopped appearing in the sports section of newspapers. He had become invisible. And then one day out of the blue he was all your TV. From commentary to news channels to reality shows, he was everywhere. Yet, he was strangely invisible. 
And then he did the unthinkable. On prime time television, he accused God. He called out Sachin for not supporting him in his hard times. Ummm excuse me? Support you? Well while you were busy being the wild child of Indian cricket, Sachin was fighting to save matches and win some too on his own. This was followed by the usual I-was-misquoted-by-the-press routine.

Then all went quiet on Kambli front with the odd news of his retirement and his attack on IPL trickling in once in a while. But for most of us Kambli was a forgotten tragedy of Indian cricket, no more. Till he reared his ugly bald head once again.

15 years after he broke down on national television in the aftermath of the Kolkata fiasco, suddenly Kambli figured that something fishy had transpired on that day. It took him fifteen years to talk about it and that too not to the officials but to a news channel. In short, he tainted the entire squad and support staff with match-fixing. Obviously not a single player or support staff has come out in support of this. 

What’s next Kambli? What will you do next a few months from now when you are missing the spotlight again? Accuse your coach of making you bat with 9 grips? Or do an Afridi and announce your comeback for next IPL auction? Why not instead get in to the administration of the game and do something meaningful that brings you in to the spotlight for all the right reasons?

Admit it Kambli, you just weren’t good enough. You were not good enough to secure you spot in the Indian middle order when Ganguly and Dravid came knocking. You were not good enough to work on your trouble against short-pitch bowling. Ganguly was. You were not good enough to handle the pressure that comes with the honour of representing your country. You were not good enough to make the most of the multiple opportunities. You were just not good enough. And your antics are ensuring you are no longer good enough to be a part of our memories too.

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