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Playing on different wickets

Navjot Singh Sidhu has mellowed and insists that Ganguly should be given a fighting chance

Photo: Rajeev Bhatt



Speak easy Navjot Singh Sidhu

He was dubbed the "stroke-less wonder" and dumped from the National team in 1994. But after four years of hibernation, Navjot Singh Sidhu rose like a phoenix to emerge as one of the most explosive opening batsmen in the country - blazing nine test centuries and a dozen half-centuries, to prove his detractors wrong.

Nonetheless, for Sidhu, courting controversies is nothing new. He was earlier booked on charges of murder, but the case ended up with his acquittal.

During the 2004 World Cup, Sidhu had the entire national cricket team baying for his blood over the caustic remarks he made against the Indian team during the qualifying rounds. So much so that the beleaguered team decided to totally boycott Sidhu and the ESPN sports channel that he represents

Multifarious activities

But those are now things of the past. Sidhu is now fully enjoying his twin role of being a Member of Parliament and commentator. He was elected from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket during last year's general election.

The cricketer-turned-commentator-turned-MP has also tuned his mind towards spiritualism.

Like a seasoned monk he could engage you endlessly in a discussion on the Sanathana dharma, the universality of religions, the omnipotence and all pervasiveness of God. "Yes I have turned spiritual too. At times I do meditation for six to eight hours at a stretch and go into a trance. It gives me lot of inner peace and inexhaustible mental strength and energy," he says.

Glib talker

But ask him if he prefers being a commentator or an active cricket and he says, "I enjoy my present role as commentator more. It has given me more self belief and intellectual satisfaction."

Once a voracious reader, Sidhu says he now has very little time to read books because of his present commitments. He also claims to be one of the few MPs constantly present in his constituency.

Sidhu seems to have mellowed a bit in his criticism of the Indian team. "Ganguly is the best captain the country has produced. Please give him a chance. Just don't rubbish him all the time," he pleads. This is surprising coming as it does from a man who only last year was unsparing in his criticism of the captain and his men. However, Sidhu insists that those in public glare should learn to accept criticism with humility.

"You cannot kick a dead dog. Only by criticism you learn the mistakes, so that you can rectify it," he asserts, adding that the likes of Ganguly and Sachin should learn to gracefully accept constructive criticism.

The present Indian team, he feels, is one of the best-knit side and with an average age of 23, looks set to put up a fighting show for the next World Cup.

With one of the best pace quartet comprising Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathi Balaji, India has all the potential to become world beaters, says Sidhu signing off.

R. BALAJI

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