Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, and while some players become legends, others miss out despite having all the talent in the world. India is land of 1.25 billion people and not everyone can become Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli and some players have to settle for much less. Indian cricket has over the years thrown many superstars, but not many people know that there are lots of players who are languishing at the bottom and their career is filled with regrets and doubts.
Once upon a time there was a player called Vinod Ganpat Kambli, who had immense talent and potential and was rightly hailed as the next big thing in Indian cricket. The player in question was only one year older than master blaster Sachin Tendulkar and great things were expected from him. Kambli was a free spirit and his game was based on instincts. The Mumbai lad had certain attitude and aura about him and he first came to the notice when in school cricket he shared a record partnership of 664 runs with his childhood friend Tendulkar and showed that he was rightly talked about as the next big thing. Kambli had flair and he was a showman, who wasn’t afraid to express himself.
International cricket is a big jump from club cricket and first-class cricket and Kambli found out this the hard way. Many promising players have faltered at the international stage and the step up proved too big for Kambli and he couldn’t make that transition from a record-breaking club player to a high pedigree international player. The record of Kambli is not that bad and he averaged over 50 in Test cricket over 17 Test matches and also hit two double hundreds. Many accomplished players over the course of their career cannot even score one double century, but Kambli sadly played his last Test at the age of 23. The Maharashtrian also excelled in limited overs cricket and played over 100 one day matches, but again didn’t set the stage on fire and his career just meandered along.
Kambli according to reports couldn’t quite handle the fame and success and went off the wrong track and cricket took a backseat. Kambli was focusing on everything else apart from cricket and that played a big part in Kambli’s career going downhill and before he could do something about it his career was over right in front of his eyes. How can a player who was born to play cricket and also scoring two double hundreds in the five-day format lose his focus, but the harsh reality is that if you take the game too lightly then the game has a way of punishing you and Kambli knowingly or unknowingly made a mess of his career.
Sachin Tendulkar played cricket over 24 years at the highest level and the reason for his success was he trained every single day and his game was his top most priority throughout and he did basics right and remained humble. Kambli had a great example of Tendulkar to follow, but sadly for him, he never matched his friend’s work ethic and got carried with early success and was more known for his off-field antics rather than on-field performances.
Kambli will always be remembered as a player who cried on national television when during the 1996 World Cup semi-final match versus Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, crowd ruckus took place and the match had to be abandoned. This image in a way summarises Kambli’s career and quite frankly people remember that moment more than Kambli’s double hundreds in Test cricket. If Kambli would have his time again he would definitely try to rectify the mistakes. But, as they say, time and tide waits for none and Kambli will go down in Indian cricket history as a player who despite having the talent achieved very little, and became the poster boy for how not to ruin your career.