Mar 22, 2003

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?

No comments: