Yes, we have credible evidence to believe so. The first hint was given by a report about Dinesh Karthik's unexpected call up to the Indian team for this world cup. The report says that Karthik, on receiving the news was so surprised by the decision that he refused to believe it. On the insistence of his parents, though , Karthik called up Vengsarkar and asked him "neenga enna vechu caamedy geemadi pannaleye??". Shortly after this we chanced upon a video of an interview of Karthik's opening partner Wasim Jaffer. When asked to reflect on his successful run of four consecutive non-zero single digit scores all he had to offer as a reply was a cry, Vadivel style ("Auuuwwwwwuuu").
Another incident which came to light recently only strengthened our suspicions. This time it was an incident from the 2003 WC. The first over of that final would forever be remembered for the flare up between Hayden and Zaheer Khan. When contacted about this earlier, Zaheer Khan had refused to divulge any details. However, recently when a reporter caught up with Mathew Hayden the whole matter came tumbling out. Apparently, after the first ball Zaheer Khan walked up to Mat and told him "Idhuvaraikum yaarum enna adichadilla". Amused by this preposterous claim Hayden shot back saying "Adhaan Ponna match adichen la??". Zaheer Khan, whose wit is reportedly quicker than his bowling, retorted "Adhu ponna match.. Na solradhu indha match"!!! The rest as they say is history ,for ,that would remain the only battle India would win on that day. Talking about World Cups, one man whose fortunes took a 180 degree turn between the two world cups was Pepsi Airtel Tendulkar. The joke in the dressing rooms around the world on this, also has the inevitable Vadivel touch to it. During the 2003 WC, whenever Tendulkar walked to the crease the opposition would be moaning "Vanduthaaya vanduthaaya". However the vicissitudes of fate so have it, that during this world cup, as soon as Tendulkar walked out of the pavilion into the ground, the opposition started celebrating the imminent fall of his wicket with cries of "kelambitaaaya Kelambitayaaa".
With our sights firmly set on what to do we decided to do delve deep into the matter. The first person we contacted in the Indian team was the swashbuckling Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He said that Vadivel had contributed a lot towards whatever little he had achieved so far. However, that's all that he would reveal. Next up was India's perennial hope for the future and Mr. Undependable, Yuvraj Singh. He too supported Dhoni's statement and was very much appreciative of the help that Vadivel had provided to them. And as if on cue he also refused to disclose much else. That kindled the investigative fire in us and as respectable journalists we had to get to the bottom of the issue. Sources, who did not wish to identified, (they wore monkey caps and mufflers while talking to us) came up with a couple of incidences which threw some light on the matter. On one occasion when Vadivel was visiting the camp Dhoni was, as usual, trying to show off his long locks to a couple of good looking females in the crowd. (Yes, we Indians ought to be the most stupid people to go watch a team in practice). Obviously miffed at Dhoni's behavior Vadivel walked up to him and taking out his comb said "enga kittayum mudi iruku, naangalum seevuvom". Taken aback at such a rebuke Dhoni decided to cut short his hair and lengthen his stay at the crease.
It also transpires that Yuvraj had gone to our man Friday and asked for advice. Vadivel in his usual inimitable style told him point blank "Un starting la nalla thaen irukku, aana un finising seriyille pa". These pearls of wisdom helped transform Yuvraj's batting more than what Greg Chappel and his team of biomedics and psychiatrists and physiologists and software engineers and chauffeurs could. What followed was a record breaking run of 17 consecutive victories while chasing a target and at the forefront were Vadivel's two protégés Dhoni and Yuvraj.
Even the seniors in the team do not seem to have escaped from this phenomenon. They were all praise for Vadivel and said they drew a lot of strength from him. When asked to elucidate, one of them said that despite some hard hitting and constant humiliation Vadivel still held his head high and took it all in his stride, and that is what they had also learned to do. They seem to be confused between movies and real life, which is only too obvious considering that they spend most of their time in front of the camera. Besides, their stint at the crease lasts just about as long as the ads that they star in. Ganguly for instance has resorted to the comedians hit line every time he gets hit while ducking for a ball pitched three yards in front of him. Totally believing in the adage "laughter is the best medicine" he looks at the bowler and says "Vendam!! Vallikudu!! Azhiduduvaen!!". But as with most things else, he seems to have misunderstood the saying. You need to be the one laughing for it to help and instead, not have everyone else laughing at you. In fact, that will add mental agony to the existing physical pain. But no one dare question Dada, for the fear that Calcutta might burn. (No! They do not have the practice of video taping it.. We'll leave that for Vivek to do)
Even the most senior statesman and always straight faced Kumble seems to like resorting to the comical punch lines. Young Piyush Chawla all eager to learn the tricks of the trade came jumping with enthusiasm to Jumbo. And guess what Kumbls says to him?? "Annen bomma trainnum, bomma planum vaangi vechuriken.. Adha vechu velaaandikittiru". A thoroughly bemused Chawla had no option but to join in in the boisterous laughter around the dressing room. The other bowlers too seem have at some point faced this treatment. A case in point being a match against South Africa. After Sreesanth got hit for 18 runs in the first over Dravid walks up to the batsman and pleads with him saying "No, Sreesanth paavam", Keeping this request in mind the batsman chose to play the next over from Sreesanth with totally unnecessary concentration and restraint. However, since the scoring rate had to be helped along they decide to go after India's number 2 bowler for the past decade, Ajit Agarkar. Having plundered a dozen runs in the over the contended batsman stroll towards each other for a mid pitch conference. Now, Dravid in a desperate bid to gain some respectability for his bowlers once again beseeches the batsmen, this time, not to go after Agarkar. Totally annoyed at these constant cries of the Indian captain they decided to go no holds barred and ended up with a total of 350 odd. At the end of the innings Dravid was left shaking his head remarking "Indian Bowling, total damage!".
Just when we were about to go to print with this unique story of comedian inspiring 11 other comedians, we got our theories confirmed. It came from the mouth of Dravid himself. At a post match conference after yet another loss (of face) in the World Cup, Dravid explained his team’s performance thus " padinoru peruma.. Summa suthi suthi maathi maathi adichaanga.. naangalum rosham vandhu adhikalaaamnu ponnapa avanga onnu sonnanga .. " ,a pause, raising expectations, "engala paarthu nala vanganu sollittaama". The dialogue delivery was so outstanding that all the press reporters ( and there were more of them than the crowd at the match) stood up and applauded. The resonating cheers reminded one of the atmosphere at Eden Gardens and for sure Dravid would have felt at home, in the otherwise hostile atmosphere.
At the end of all this we decided that we'll leave the final word to the hero of the story, (Vadivel's second such outing after 23m pulikesi). We put forward the question on how he felt to be respected and revered so much by the Indian cricket team. For once, even he seemed at a total loss of words and all that he (m)uttered was "Enna kodhuma Saar idhu??".