Whatever be the result tomorrow, in my opinion the Indian cricket team has gone farther than any other team before it: drawing whoops of pleasure from the lay cricket watcher, but a quiet I-told-you-so from the serious Indian fan.
I've considered my loyal following of the team and I have to permit a sense of
euphoria that I can share with some of my friends, Gaurav & Harish in
particular, our belief
has been vindicated to a large degree, I'm sure a feeling we share with not too
many prior to the Cup. The reasons for our optimism were simple: the talent was
too impressive to ignore. This has been the team that has achieved the most: Test
matches won abroad (no great feat, but compared to the non-achievements of the
past, a big change in fortunes), some great turnaround wins that will go down in
collective cricket memory. They have just seemed to break with the past, and I'm
happy Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly and John Wright have found
themselves a team that can punctuate instead of puncturing their aspirations to
cricketing greatness in their own chosen way. And for doing it without needing
to be too ruffian-like like some other *aggressive* teams: not flinching in the
face of the sledger but with no need to resort to the same behaviour.
That's why I still find it extremely shameful how people trashed the same team
after the Australian loss: so what if they lose, badly at that? Who gives us the
right to throw tar at a young cricketer's house? Don't people make mistakes in
their own lives? These idiots surrendered their sense of worth to a game of cricket and
derive their so-called national pride from a six over third man. No one asked
them to, but they did. How difficult is it to take a skier staring into a pack
of high-watted lights while a mob is ready to judge your sincerety on whether
you can hold it in your sweaty palms, do we know? And when you consider this
team has hardly gone about shouting down journalists' mikes claiming to be the
"best" (and then getting a pasting from the very next day).
So what if they appear in endorsements? Isn't it their right to make a
living for themselves, to exploit their own skills for their own economic
reasons: don't we try and use our own academic training to attempt pretty much
the same. And no cricketer asks his ad to be aired the ironic & annoying moment
after he has been dismissed. Still we gun for them. How consistent is our
performance in our own lives?
Of late, I've been able to invest less emotionally in the game of cricket and
India's performances in it. It has made it more easier to watch the game.
Remember, our generation grew up with the cricket boom, and endured the many
disappointments of Sharjah & World Cup fiascos & idols-turned-ordinary-men & the
crassness of crowds and cricketers and administrators alike. Finally, we have a
chance to legitimately claim we're among the top three nations in this beloved
sport of ours, let's not spoil it by yo-yoing with the unpredictable results.
And hopefully, by about 9.30 pm on the 23rd of March, 2003, the xxx3 year trend
('83: World cup, '93: Hero Cup) will have found more takers and Sachin Tendulkar
will not have one notable fact attached to his valiant name: of being the
greatest player never to win a World Cup.
While it hasn't been the most thrilling Cup, it has given us a great deal
already. And if we simply seem destined to win, even the Indian team can't help
but fulfil that?