Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Impact of Initial Conditions

In an article filled with angst about Bengali cricketers with early promise getting sidelined / ignored repeatedly, Ashok Guha offers examples that illustrate the importance of early encouragement from bosses and protection from godfathers for a successful career (not just in cricket, I suppose, though that's the context of Guha's piece).

First, here's how Guha on the exploits of an Indian debutant -- S.T. Banerjee -- in the 1992 Sydney test match:

A pace bowler, he was brought into the attack on the first morning after Kapil and Prabhakar could not dislodge the Australian openers, Taylor and Marsh. He promptly bowled out Marsh. After he was rested, Taylor and Boon comfortably added almost a hundred before Azhar recalled him. He immediately had Taylor caught behind and Mark Waugh caught in the slips. He was given very little to do thereafter but finished the innings with three for 47 off 18 overs. India then amassed a lead of 170 runs thanks to a double century from Shastri and a century from Sachin. In their second innings, Australia struggled for five hours to avoid an innings defeat. Eventually, they reached 173 for eight when the match ended. The Indians lost their only opportunity to redeem themselves on a tour in which they had been soundly thrashed everywhere else. During these five hours, with India’s only victory looming as a very real possibility, the debutant, the outstanding bowler in the first innings, was not asked by his captain to bowl a single ball. Nor was he played in the two subsequent Tests, in which India were crushed as usual.

And here are the two lessons:

... [T]wo lessons [are] ... to be drawn from the contrasting fates of Warne and Srinath on the one hand and S.T. Banerjee on the other. The first relates to the role that early encouragement plays in the blossoming of individual potential. Could any debut have been less promising than that of Warne? Could any paceman have been manhandled more savagely in his initial series than was Srinath? The fact that, throughout these ordeals, their captains and the selectors never lost faith in their ability protected their self-confidence from the sledge-hammer impact of cruel experience. And, conversely, nothing is easier than to nip early promise in the bud by calculated disparagement. No blow to Banerjee’s morale could have been more devastating than denial of the ball in the second innings at Sydney. That the youngster was the only successful bowler on the opening day of the Test after Azhar had won the toss and inserted Australia, that he had thereby saved his captain’s face, that he had dismissed three of the finest batsmen that Australia had produced all meant nothing to Azhar — and therefore, in the ultimate analysis, to Banerjee. When neglect in the second innings was followed by omission from the subsequent Tests, the only conclusion that Banerjee could have drawn was of the futility of all effort.

The second lesson of our story is the indispensability of godfathers in a field dominated by huge monopolistic hierarchies like the Board of Control for Cricket in India. [...]


  1. Santonu said...

    Powerhouse of Indian cricket has largely been to Mumbai, offlet it it is shared by Delhi, Hyd/Bangalore and now very recently with Chennai. Story of deprivation comes from Bengal more because there are big people writing for them, but talents from Assam, Orissa, Bihar, Kerala has been equally ignored. Rahul Dravid had scored 11 as his highest score in his first 7 onedays. We were fortunate the management had confidence in him. I dont think there is any end to these stories....

  2. gaddeswarup said...

    In this respect science seems to fare better. People like Emmy Noether, Lise Meitner had countless obstacles, there was even a eight year delay in university education for Meitner and they went on to do outstanding work.