If you talked cricket with me during the early days of India's 2004 tour of Australia, just before the Test matches, you would have heard/seen me argue tooth and nail for Sadagopan Ramesh's inclusion as India's opener. But by the end of the tour, I had to grudgingly agree that the man who took Ramesh's (then) rightful place at the top of the order was the calm eye to the hurricane that was Virendra Sehwag.
As an opener, I still think he did nothing wrong in Australia, though so many people seemed to criticize him. I maintain that as a classical test opener, he did what was required. If you'd look carefully at the series stats and do some minor math, you would find that, on an average per inning, he played just 6 balls lesser than his partner. And the 20 minute difference in duration in their innings can be explained by the fact that the number three batsman was Dravid who'd have probably hogged some of the strike settling in. So essentially what I am trying to say is just this - he managed to hold one end up while Sehwag went bonkers on the other end, while scoring 40 percent of what Sehwag did and staying for the most part of Sehwag's innings. And in no point of time did you hear that Sehwag got bogged down due to his partner's stonewalling (though I'm not sure we will ever hear that statement about Sehwag, ever!).
I usually back a player (or a team), through thick and thin, but in this case what has happened is that I have had to put Ramesh behind me and that has not happened often. And now when this guy is outside the limelight, I want to do something to highlight what he has been doing.
Akash Chopra is currently in England playing for a minor team in Stoke-on-Trent and has been blogging too, if you'd call his columns (hat tip to Prem Panicker) that! By all accounts these are not ghost written and present a rare insight into a cricketer's mind. As the footnote to one of his early posts reads, he writes about life in England for Indian professionals (cricketers, that is), who have for years made the trips to the Old Blighty make some much needed money, something that they'd find hard to come by when not playing in India. And coming as it does from someone on the fringes of selection, the columns make for interesting reads. I have added his column to my browser favorites and though the summer is fast coming to an end, even in England, I think I will still go back and look at the archives to read about what he has been doing these past few months.
On a slightly related note (adding to my twin posts on May 15th and May 21st of this year), it turns out that Rahul Mehra and Shantanu Sharma have filed yesterday (September 7th) with the Delhi High Court, a set of suggestions for the BCCI to implement for improving cricket in India. Originally, this was scheduled to happen on the 25th of May and though it seems to have been delayed, it is certainly welcome progress in the proceedings that were set rolling more than 5 years ago on April 20, 2000! What will now ideally happen that the Delhi High Court will formally instruct the BCCI to react to this statement and inform the court what it intends to do to act on these suggestions. I am watching this situation with interest. If you are interested, you can read the complete text of Rahul Mehra's email to Prem Panicker here.