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|July 1, 2000||
Best foot backwardAvinash Subramanium
Normally, I'm not a big one for harking back to the past. (Happens so often with us 'twenty somethings.') In fact, it irritates me when people use the past as a reference point to criticize the present. But the events of the past few weeks make me wonder, what indeed happened to the good old days? Or, to put it in a less avuncular/patronizing manner, where have things like playing the game for the love of it gone? What happened to the people who get a 'buzz' out of simply representing the country? Isn't it heady enough taking the field in front of thousands cheering you? Isn't the sheer 'hugeness' of having a million souls doting on you a good-enough ego massage? And how can a Bob Woolmer get away with saying, so nonchalantly, that fixing matches gives people a buzz? Man, things have come a long way.
Little that has taken place from the time of 'Cronjegate' gives me reason to feel assured that all is going to be right. The transcripts of Cronje's trial, which I'm sure the whole world has a point of view on, do little to conclusively show that we may be anywhere nearer to the truth. The CBI and the other 'Men in Black' are still conducting extensive investigations with little to show by way of conclusive proof. As always, it's only the little fish the investigative net seems to be getting any close to snaring. The multitude of law suits that people have/are threatened/threatening one and the other with will almost certainly, as in most other cases, be forgotten. (Case in point, does anyone remember/care about the PIL filed by Rahul Mehra and friend on the BCCI? No pun intended.) In short, cricket lovers are still being taken for a ride. And will, in all probability, continue to be. Needless to say, the damage done to the game, the psyche of the players, the fans, not that I need to repeat it, will be untold. But then, as one of my fellow writers would cynically philosophize, 'shit happens.'
And while on the effect this whole mess has had on the psyche of the fans, is it just me or are there more people who wonder what the series' between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is all about? First, Pakistan loses 3-0 to the Lankans at home. And now, the Lankans seem to be returning the favor. Is it a favor? Are we seeing yet another big farce? You never know. I don't. I didn't think our 3-2 win over the South Africans in the Pepsi Cup was a cruel joke. (Did you?) I didn't know Cronje opening the bowling with Derek Crookes was not an acute reading of the local conditions by a truly innovative captain but…well, you know what it was. (I actually thought it was quite a good move. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one.)
Point is, these are just some of the many questions I keep asking myself every time I watch cricket nowadays. Questions that then get added to other more disturbing questions. Like how can a team, our team, in which some of the core members speak with so much malice about one another, function like a team? Why have we perpetrated a system of man-management and 'team culture' that is so flawed? Sure, it is typically human to speak ill about a person mostly behind the person's back. But so much vitriol? So much hatred? No wonder we don't play like a team. No wonder we have rarely played like a team. And from the looks of it, the only thing we seem to be, is a team of back-stabbers and hypocrites.
Speaking of which, by now, it seems quite clear that Manoj Prabhakar's 'tapes' are not a fabrication. I mean, if they were, the protagonists of the pantomime this has become probably wouldn't be going hoarse contradicting themselves about what's on them. (Logical, no? Why bother making statement after statement after statement on being misquoted when you 'supposedly' never gave a single quote!) In which case, if even an iota of what's on those tapes is true, why are we not taking firm steps to do something decisive about it? I mean, things have become so bad, we've now got IT officials threatening to sue people! Which is not to say things are too much better in the 'White World.' (Yet another fall-out of the cricket scam is the sad reality that we've managed to bring racism even into sport. This despite sport being the one thing that has consistently been used as a weapon to break down the barriers of race and other human foibles.) Come to think of it, the only thing concrete to have emerged from 'Cronjegate' seems to be cynicism. A quality the world already has an overdose of. Here's hoping for hope. (Against hope.)
PS: Chances are, most of you would have read the news item about three young 'India hopefuls' being pulled up for indiscipline and not paying enough attention to one's physical fitness. Yes, 'indiscipline' and 'lack of physical fitness' in this day and age of 'total cricket.' But then, why blame them? They probably learnt it from their seniors.
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