Vantage point

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Man We All Love To Hate

Anand Vasu has a superb article in defence of Ajit Agarkar - the man we all love to hate. He compares Agarkar's statistics with all Indian bowlers, present and past.

If he bowls so many loose balls and is so inconsistent, how can the combination of Agarkar's bowling average, economy rate and strike rate be better than anyone else who has bowled quick in Indian cricket?

Agarkar-Ganguly-Kaif form the trinity of Indian cricketers that I always defend during debates. The most tragic thing about Agarkar is that when he does well, no one heaps praise on him. There have been many times when he has picked up crucial wickets, bowled good spells, even had great series, but he doesn't get shot into the limelight. But when he does badly, like in the recent SA series, everyone gets a shot in like sexually frustrated rednecks at a public lynching.

Agarkar is not a "great" in any sense of the word. But he deserves more credit than is given to him. And he certainly has been one of the best pacemen India has produced.

Another thing I find bizarre is that often we will lament that all bowlers we have nowadays at military medium Prasadesque bowlers, and that is why we don't do well. But Agarkar is and always has been consistently fast-medium. In a country where most bowlers quickly settle into an average speed of 130, he has always been 138-140.

As Vasu writes -

The question that must be asked is whether Agarkar has failed Indian cricket, or whether Indian cricket has failed Agarkar. Therein the enigma is laid to rest.