Sunday, April 24, 2005

Why it Matters

India lost the one-day cricket series to Pakistan miserably and an exasperated nation groans and throws its arms up and casts its eyes skyward yet again, for some cricketing messiah to come along and lead us to our cricketing salvation. This situation with Indian cricket has for long been like ‘Groundhog Day’, different day just the same old shit.

How many times do we have to suffer the ignominy of defeat, nay, abject bludgeoning into submission by lesser teams and how many times we shrug and sigh with a ‘chalta hai’ attitude, maybe with the eternal hope of redemption for some other day? That day of reckoning never comes. We almost get there i.e. so called self proclaimed world beaters, but never quite get over the hump. Always the promise of becoming the next big thing, but never really delivering on that promise, seems to have become our tagline. At this point in time the average on-the-street cricket fan does not ask for world domination in the sport, but just an iota of redemption and just the satisfaction that the team he roots for lost out trying its very best. Is that too much to ask from the privileged eleven, selected over 1 billion of the rest of their countrymen?

Why have we resigned ourselves to accept anything less than superlative effort from our cricketing Gods? They owe their exalted status to the multitudes that worship them, and the least they can do is grow a spine and attempt a decent fight back, leave alone try and win. We have grown to live with mediocrity, even cherish it and raise it to exalted levels, only to be disappointed every single time. Look around you, our politicians and leaders are mediocre at best, so are our sportsmen, our businesses and the products they cater are mediocre, so are our scientists and other intellectuals, our movies, actors, singers, directors are simply pedestrian. What do we really excel at ? A nation of individual brilliance, but collective mediocrity.

Well-wishers suggest that its time we let go of cricket since it will bring us nothing but abject heartburn and there is actually very little to look forward to from our ‘boys in blue’. But how do you let go? Growing up all you knew was cricket, because we didn’t have access to better facilities in other sports. Summer and winter holidays were spent in the singular pursuit of cricket and following the national team with a fanatical zeal was the full time preoccupation of the teeming millions of aspiring Sunny/Vishy or Kapils. How do you let go ? Our avaricious, spineless and decadently wealthy cricketers owe it to these adoring hordes to put up some sense of fight, provide escape from reality, give them some heroes, no matter how fractured, they can look up to and expect not to be let down spectacularly .

For every kid who wields a bat carved out of a tree branch, for the thousands who pursue cricket on the numerous dusty, hot, humid maidans and parks all over the country, for every panwalla going about his work with his ears glued to the radio, for every passerby who asks ‘Score kya hua ?’, for college kids following on the internet, for office workers taking sick days off on match days ,for every mother who waits hours on end for her son to finish coaching camp, for every son who has been perfecting the cover drive or straight drive forgoing his breakfast and lunch, for ever NRI who gives up a good portion of their nightly slumber as well as a good portion of their paychecks to follow their cricketers, for every hour that retired folks spend agonizing over the performance from the previous day, these cricketers owe it to all of them the right to hold their heads high for something that have dedicated a good portion of their life. The common ‘vada pav’ eating guy, perennially toiling man-on-the-street can’t be robbed of his last vestiges of escapism from reality. How do you let go?

When the Englishman throws us off the train, in our country, for not being white, we didn’t fight back, when despite being one of the most populous nation and largest democracy on earth we don’t hold any sway in the UN, yet we don’t fight back, our politicians and leaders screw us over, we watch in muted disbelief, our spiritual gurus and maulvis abandon us, we suffer it in silence, then what do we really stand for? A life spent at the altar of mediocrity. Don’t we deserve better?

Chuck the Tendulkar’s and the Dada’s out of the team. Let them go back to their restaurants, advertisements and movie starlets or whatever else they choose to pursue. Choose a team who never quits and then back this team against all odds. Give them time and a set deadline to perform after which, if they do not deliver, start rebuilding all over again. Individual milestones should not hold any place in team sports. After all what have we got to lose? We couldn’t possibly fare any worse.


Blogger Anshul said...

Very true and well-written! Sourin.

The issue over here is not the decline in the collective performance of any group or team, but the insurgence of the political influence and the control the bureaucrats are having.

The irony is that everyone is aware of it but someone has to 'bell the cat'


7:45 PM  
Blogger Anshul said...

Please read this clipping (Jon Wright's comments while moving out of India cricket team) -

Wright criticises selection committee; Cricinfo staff
April 25, 2005

John Wright plans to spend more time with family, write a book and maybe coach © Wisden

John Wright, who coached India for four-and-a-half years and learnt the intricacies of the board and the team, has criticised the national selection panel for their "appalling procedures". During his tenure with Sourav Ganguly, Indian team selections were more consistent than before, but Wright believed that rules needed to be put in place to ensure even further consistency in the process.

Speaking to the Asian Age, Wright revealed how difficult it was with a constant chopping and changing within the board. "The selection committee is poor and needs to be streamlined. I have been with the team for the last four years and every year [when] the selection committee gets changed, new people come in with new sets of ideas, which makes things difficult. There should be a standard set of rules governing the selection procedure."


8:44 AM  

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