From the replica at Tussauds, that is.
London: To have Sachin Tendulkar turn up for its national team could perhaps the dream of any cricketing country.
Understanding that this dream is basically unrealistic, the England cricket selectors have done the next best thing possible in the circumstance: Pick a replica. From the wax museum of Madam Tussauds at London, that is.
The exhibit from the Tussauds, for which the original Tendulkar himself modelled, is likely to be in the English line-up that will do duties this summer for the Test series against Sri Lanka and India.
‘Everyone has been crowing that this exhibit is as good as the original. Let us see how true this statement is. But, for us, even if it is half as good it will more than suffice,’ a beaming Geoff Miller, chairman of England Selection Committee said here today. Strategically, it’s seen as a smart move as the Indian bowlers have never had to contend with Tendulkar. ‘We intend to exploit that weakness,’ he added.
Tendulkar is undoubtedly the candle for the world cricket at the moment. But realise, when you are talking of candle, you are actually talking of wax, Miller said by way of explaining the logic to pick Tendulkar from Tussauds.
Terming the development as a historic one, Miller said this marks a new high in ‘kolpak’ deals. ‘The English national cricket team, as everyone knows, is a veritable UN force, comprised as it is by players from every possible country, and occasionally from England, too,’ Miller said and added ‘now we have upped the ante by selecting one without any country’s passport.’
It’s a momentous time for the world of cricket as such. After this, the way forward is to import exciting talents from the Avatar ‘s Pandora planet. They could be the players of the future — all state-of-the-art and HD-ready, Miller pointed out, dropping hints about which way English cricket is headed.
Miller also clarified that this was not the first occasion that the English cricket team was experimenting with a wax exhibit. ‘If you recall, for the tour of India in 1991-92, we blooded a full-fledged wax dummy as wicket-keeper in the form of Richard Blakey’.
Brushing aside the sceptical criticism that how a wax model can play cricket, Miller cattily said, ‘remember we have had players who exhibited footwork less than a wax exhibit would. Robert Key and Graeme Fowler, to throw some random example, have Test match double hundreds. But their footwork seemed specifically designed at Tussauds’.
Okay, Miller agreed, there are downsides to a wax model. But look at the positives. ‘It won’t make idiotic rants on Twitter when dropped from the team. You will not have shameful pedalo night-outs. And most importantly, it will not suffer hernia complications’.
Miller conceded that fielding would be an issue. ‘We, as experts in cricket, understand a wax model is a wax model. But we consoled ourselves that it would still be better than a mobile Munaf when it comes to fielding’.
Miller also revealed that the selection committee’s original plan was to pick the Tendulkar replica in the World Cup team itself. ‘But apparently that would have been a clear case of ambush marketing. World Cup commercial rules stipulate that there can be only one official Tendulkar in the fray.’
The Tendulkar replica is an experiment. If it succeeds, we will try and fill the team with similar exhibits. Bradman, Sobers, Hadlee are some of the names that the ECB is looking at to replicate. Agreed, it would look slightly bizarre. But nothing out of ordinary, as it is we are full of South Africans, Irish and Indian expatriates, Miller said.
Meanwhile, the ECB is hoping that with Tendulkar in the team, much financial riches will flow its way. ‘In fact, we are on a stronger wicket here,’ ECB chairman Giles Clarke said. ‘The whole world knows that when it comes to commercials, the real Tendulkar comes across, how do I put it politely, as if he is trying to learn facial expressions from his waxed doppelganger,’ Giles said candidly, thereby probably fulfilling his wish to use the word ‘doppelganger’ in an actual sentence.
Reacting to the developments of his replica being set for debut as an English player, the real Tendulkar, in Mumbai, said ‘it should remember it’s a team game. It should be happy as long as the team does well’. Actually, Tendulkar’s wax model could have come up with more imaginative lines.
Elsewhere, it’s also learnt that the Kochi IPL franchise, Kochi Tuskers India, has approached the IPL governing council whether it can bid for the Tendulkar replica to play in its team. A member of the governing council, in a rare mood for truthful confession, ruefully said: ‘You have to ask only N Srinivasan on this. As a governing council, we otherwise are just a wax model’.
The sensational event has sent the Indian media into a slight tizzy. In Mumbai, the Times of India headlined its report: ‘Twodulkars’. In Chennai, The Hindu’s caption read as: ‘Test cap for Tussauds’ wax model on cards’. Mid-Day interviewed two models, who were wearing only wax, for a special feature on the issue. ‘Cricket for Dummies‘ was the headline of Tehelka‘s investigative report on how wax models of players from the minority community in Gujarat were burnt during the riots of 2002. NDTV sought the expert opinion of people who were experienced in lighting candles in church. Suhel Seth, as usual, was one among them.
(Disclaimer: We wanted to wax eloquent on Tendulkar. And this is literally how)