Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Great Indian Soap Opera - Cricket

Cricket in India, the way it is conducted, administered, watched and even played, is stranger than any other sport in any other country. If you just look at the amount of coverage it is given in the newspapers, the hours and hours of critical analysis every single day's play is given on ALL the sports and news channels on television, you would suppose that India was probably the greatest cricketing nation in the world. That's what the strange part really is.

We have probably the most unpredictable team in the any sport! There is not a single cricket team right now that has on paper a stronger batting line-up. One after another we have the classiest and most awesome batsmen coming up to bat. But still, we manage to disgrace ourselves in absolutely unimaginable ways. After winning the 2nd test so nicely, today suddenly after lunch, wickets are falling right, left and center like it's nobody's business.

Sachin "The Little Master" Tendulkar gets out to the most ridiculous of shots. I fully support the Mumbai crowd's decision in booing him off the field. And then you have all the past players raising a hue and cry over this "shameful" behaviour on the crowd's part. I mean, what were they supposed to do - cheer him for having come out and faced 20 balls to make 1 bloody run??? Thank you Sachin sir, our greatest batsman, for letting us have a glimpse of you??

Then of course the crowd wouldn't stop having fun just because the Indian team wanted to play good hosts to the England team and give them all the wickets they wanted. There were long-lasting jeers hurled at the English players. Fielders in the outfield, such as Andrew Flintoff, were abused and their "parentage questioned" as the papers here put it. I frankly think it's about time someone made these guys feel a bit uncomfortable.

The crowd has complete right to intimidate these guys. If the Indian team won't do it themselves, then...well someone has to keep up the sledging tradition. But again, you have commentators and columnists crying about how the crowds are misbehaving and ruining the "spirit" of the game. Now that's just stupid.

Our team earns such an insane amount of money! There are endorsements from Reebok and Adidas right upto Chyawanprash and Boost (the secret of god knows what energy and where they use it). I think the Indian crowds deserve better performances from them. If they are happily accepting awards and sponsorship deals when they are in form, why shouldn't our cricketers also have to take the disappointment of the people they play for?

Do these guys just forget, in all the fun they apparently have in huddles and 'pro-active training' and sleep-overs and whatever else not, that they're actually playing for a country full of people who have usually have no more joy in their average day than seeing Dhoni hit a six or Sachin reach another half-century?

Cricket is the only sport in which you have players having amazingly long bad patches and still carrying on in the team. This does not happen with football or athletics or hockey. All this does not happen even with any other cricket team. The Australians do not have any problems with sending Glenn McGrath or Brett Lee or even Matthew Hayden home, if he does not score the way they ask him to.

How long is all this going to carry on? Why can't we ever have really really good performances runs, instead of just winning sometimes by accident?

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