The batsman has been retired, but at what cost?
The team is starting at the bottom of the points table of the tournament. Their past performances haven’t been great. The management has decided to do something radical: let players go and form a new team led by a ‘charismatic’ captain.
The captain has done a lot in the past. He has won matches and has amassed a fan following but he has no experience of playing at the national level. The management knows this and probably that’s why they have borrowed some ‘experienced players’ from other teams to help the captain or perhaps they don’t trust the captain one hundred percent.
It’s the first game of the tournament and the team has an uphill task of chasing a target of over 400 runs. The captain knows exactly who he wants to send in to open the inning: his ace player, the same guy the captain has been promoting all along.
The captain believes that he can steer the team out of trouble.
He’s on the crease and starts his inning cautiously. He survives initial scares and now looks comfortable with the movement of the ball and the pitch condition. The target is still difficult but achievable. He’s about to reach 50.
But it seems that the captain has some other ideas. He’s out on the balcony of the dressing room—and he does what no one can imagine. He signals his ace player to come back. He is retiring him.
The batsman has no choice but to comply with the orders.
As he makes his way back to the dugout, he must be thinking why his captain decided to retire him. Does it have something to do with his performance? But he’s as good as, if not better, than other batsmen who follow. Does it have something to do with his support for one of the two ‘experienced’ pacers on the team?
The pacer used to be on good terms with the captain until he fell out with a senior bowler, one who was ruled out of the team after being found guilty of ‘match-fixing’. The ‘fixer’ is the captain’s blue-eyed boy. He trusts him, which is probably why he is still with the team and attends all team meetings.
After the batsman’s forced departure, another player, a new fast bowler—who the captain had earlier compared to a legendary bowler—is feeling the heat. He is thinking he could be next.
But the question on everyone’s minds is why the captain decided to retire his best batsman at such a crucial time? Was it really his decision? Or was it that of the ‘coach’ who is coming up with strategy in the dressing room?
The captain was lucky that his ace player didn’t protest his decision and is still defending the team. But not everyone will react as he has. What the captain needs to realize is that while it is his prerogative to change the batting order or decide who will play, he should protect his team. The captain needs his team’s support since even a great player cannot win the match all alone and it is, after all, as the crowd in the national stadium understands all too well, only the start of the tournament.