Kartik's tale of missed opportunities

Kartik's tale of missed opportunities

Murali Kartik, a regular in the English county circuit and an important member of Somerset for the last two years, will soon join an illustrious club that also includes the likes of Greg Chappell and Sir Viv Richards.

The left-arm spinner has been an integral part of the side, helping them finish second in all formats of the game (Divison I, Pro40 and T20) last year with close to 100 wickets.  

For someone so prolific, Kartik has strangely been repeatedly ignored by India’s national selectors. Since his Test debut in 2000 against South Africa, he has made several comebacks across all formats and more often than not acquitted himself well, sometimes even exceedingly well. But somehow, for the selectors, he appears an easy option to leave out.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” the left-arm spinner conceded. “I was always third in the pecking order after Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Anil is not there now, so what happened after that? Whenever I played for India, I bowled well. When I made a comeback in Chandigarh (2007), I bowled the 40th over, got (Matthew) Hayden at a crucial time and then came that six for 27 (in Mumbai). So, to be dropped after that with no reasons being given is disappointing.

“Also, I hurt my ankle in the Deodhar Trophy game in Bangalore moments after being picked for the Test series against South Africa in 2008. But after that, whatever performances you come up with don’t seem to get recognised. I don’t know why, no one has told me anything and neither do I have any idea.”

To his credit, Kartik hasn’t let things bog him down. He has made 15 comebacks in his 11-year chequered career, and still counting. “The one big motivation for me has been playing for the country. I don’t think it can get any better than that for a player. Just wearing that cap and walking around is such a fantastic feeling,” he says longingly.  

Having seen ‘lesser’ bowlers get the nod ahead of him, Kartik now isn’t averse to shedding his modesty. “Throwing humility out of the window, I can say that after Anil and Harbhajan, I have bowled and done well in all conditions,” he pointed out. “Sometimes, it’s (not getting due recognition) disappointing but the thing is this not a Utopian world and everything isn’t right.

“You have to take everything with your chin up. The reason I am playing county cricket is to get back into the Indian side. Everywhere I go here, people keep telling me that they can’t believe I am not playing for India. They know I’m 34 but the fact is that I’ve played seven seasons of back-to-back county cricket, which means I am fit and doing the right things. As long as I am playing cricket, that’s the only motivation for me,” he explains.

Not knowing the reason, Kartik admitted, was tougher to deal with than being left out. “What could be the reason?” he asked.  “You take six for 27 against the old Australian side then you are dropped from the team, you take seven wickets against Australia in the Mumbai Test (2004), which is the only Test you win in the entire year, and the next morning you are out of the team! People get picked and dropped but not knowing the reason is tougher,” he lamented.

Has he tried to find out the reason? “I have, but you never get the right answers.”

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