Friday, 6 January 2012

Cricket: That funny game....

So, its been a really long time and I have decided to revive my blog, put new life and spirit into it, something that the Indian cricket desperately needs on this 2012 Aussie tour. Infact, my blog has been pretty much like team India, brilliant start but didn't quite keep up with discipline, commitment and consistency. :)

I like being an academic but (test) cricket is like a religion to me like the rest of the billion Indians (though I know many of my friends wouldn't care about eleven players with the bat and ball, least of all seeing them battle it out for 5 full days when they could do so much work, and watch bollywood flicks, and catch up with friends and family!)I like the game because it does not rely on contact violence and physical prowess is tested more through mental strength when you battle/weather it out for 5 full days on the field. Cricketers get paid but spectators/followers must feel really passionate to be involved for 5 days. Right?

Last few years have been good for Indian cricket and cricket in general. Lots of good games, test matches with results, legends performing to expectations and underdogs coming up with surprise wins. My memories are of South Africa's fantastic victory in Australia on their last tour, England's Ashes victories in 2009 and 2011, India's victories against England and Australia at home, and most recently the wonderful New Zealand win at Hobart and Sri Lankan one match wonder win in South Africa. Like the rest of the world, cricket reflects a revolutionary change, the power centre has shifted and it's become more competitive than ever, more 'corrupt' than ever (with unfortunate match fixing scandals!), more globalised than ever with IPL, Big Bash and other domestic tournaments that bring all kinds of players together(Who would have thought Andrew Symmonds and Harbhajan Singh would share the same dressing room!) and more aggressive, more gendered than ever.

So, cricket lovers Down Under were waiting for this India-Australia series that promised to bury the memories of the controversial last tour in 2008. It was ugly, ugly, ugly and Ponting will forever not be forgiven for the role he played in that series. Coming back to this series, we drove from Sydney to Melbourne to watch the Boxing day test at MCG which India lost so badly. I still retained hope for the SCG test but it has ended on a sadder note for team India with a crushing innings defeat. I left the SCG ground after lunch on day 2 because it wasn't going to be a contest at all. Cricket lovers are despondent after India's performance and might I add, this new year has begun on a really sad note.

You win and lose in sports and it should be no big deal, but these defeats are reflective of our national ethos and dare I add, our foreign policy: marked by individual brilliance, general lethargy, lack of discipline and professionalism and lack of strategic thinking. The fielding is embarrassing to say the least, the bowling unit gets disheartened easily as was reflected in the runs they gifted to Aussie batsmen at the SCG. Sorry Michael Clarke, but your runs didn't come against a world class bowling attack but against an insipid team that gifted you runs to allow you that place in the sun. Infact Clarke shoud be thankful to team India members for their generosity, Hussey and Ponting should be grateful India has saved their careers! Lack of professionalism and discipline has been much talked about by the likes of Sunil Gavaskar (who ofcourse has no problems with IPL!)but it is also obvious to general public when they reach the grounds early for the match. While the Aussie team works hard in the nets and is seen warming up on all match days, the Indian team is nowhere to be found till you spot them, strolling lazily and moving their bodies as if its a burden they carry. So, it's not just Sachin Tendulkar with the monkey on his back. I remember watching the SCG Ashes test last year and the English team would always take to the grounds early and practice hard. Ofcourse Kevin Pietersen always likes to be where he can be seen!

Yesterday we still hoped Sachin and VVS would salvage it for us, but it was not to be. VVS played a career saving knock not a match saving one like Calcutta. And it was all over in 4 days. Questions are beng asked about Dhoni's captaincy and whether the young ones like Kohli are up to it, whether the old legs of Dravid, VVS and Sachin can carry further the burden of the team etc etc. Whatever the postmortem, fact is that the body is dead, this tour is over. The saddest thing is this is the best batting and bowling unit we have had in a long time but lack of planning, practice and discipline has resulted in scars that will be hard to heal.

I am taking it as a lesson for my own life. Talent is useless without hardwork, planning and executon. That should be my new year mantra. I know I will still follow the Perth Test quite intently remembering the last time India won there. Hope is never to be given up, but the disppointment is profound. It's a game that you invest emotions and time in and that should be respected by the players. It is not losing a game that hurts, but losing a game that you should have won, and losing it in such a humiliating manner.

It will also be fair to mention that while reading all the analyses, one finds a gaping vaccum....Peter Roebuck's exciting and insightful columns are missing. None are as eloquent as he could be and my thoughts on his story for another day.

This is a good place to vent and good place to fulfill some new year resolutions. So, dear readers, I shall keep you posted about this and that. Those of you who know me, know that I have much to say...but for now, a Happy New Year and here's to new beginnings.


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