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|June 9, 2000||
Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of warSujata Prakash
I've been accused by many of being an optimist beyond endurance. The reason is because I'm still writing with what seems like hope, on a subject best given a decent funeral and a decent obituary.
Lets face it, Indian cricket is gasping that last breath before the heart gives way. Instead of rushing the paramedics to its rescue, one more nail in the coffin is driven in ruthlessly. Hope, like optimism, is faltering badly right now.
One of the new nails being hammered in is the threat of the brown vs white split in cricket. As an aside, where do the Windies fit in, being neither and viewed as a bit of both? Certainly the ECB would compare them more favourably to us match-fixing wogs who need to be taught the mother of all lessons.
To counter balance this we have rumors of Dalmiya the visionary (who else?) allegedly announcing that a new body called the Asian Cricket Foundation will take care of its own very well, thank you. Plans are afoot to have an Asian mini world series, more Asian tournaments and who knows, maybe even our very own Asian 'world' cup. Which means we see more repeats of the just concluded Dhaka tournament. Which means India gets to beat Bangladesh most times, Pakistan and Sri Lanka once in a while (on a good day when the players are not sad and the captain has won the toss) and for the rest of the time, one assumes they will invite teams from Kenya and UAE for match practice.
How many bowlers and batsmen of caliber will we produce in such a scenario? Not many I presume, and even the quirky Indian habit of throwing up individual sparks of brilliance at regular intervals will dwindle out.
If this happens we might as well start singing Auld Lang Syne now, and switch to watching Mohun Bagan battle it out with Churchill Bros. God knows they could do with the mass transfer of attention.
Coming back to the original topic, one scene stands out from Dhaka. In the finals, when Moin Khan was inventing stroke-play defying normality, and after a particularly spectacular six, a banner went up saying 'sexy shot'! Yes, that was the word my mind had been fumbling to find. It was sexy cricket and sexy body language all the way. And where does that come from? From passion, and desire. Now, if only someone (like a new and preferably foreign coach ) could teach this to our team. Lets not blame the BCCI for all the dodginess we see on the field. Our players (barring a few like Ganguly and Tendulkar) need a crash course on how to raise their own levels when defending national pride.
But then our good men, from the coach to the board members, stay strangely unmoved as their main bowlers get toyed around with, as if they were in possession of ping pong balls instead of cricket ones.
This brings to mind a phrase by Doris Lessing, 'There is only one real sin in the world, and that is to persuade ourselves that second-best is anything but the second-best.' For too long have we let ourselves be persuaded that what we were seeing out there was first class cricket. To a large extent, players are a reflection of the management. In our case, it is certainly second-best management producing second-best cricket. We can't change the players, but we can change the management. If you and I could have joined hands to overthrow the Indira Gandhi government, than why can't we muster up enough energy to put a handful of men, hell bent on destroying the game we love, in their place?
Think about it. A Krishna was needed to stir things up when despondant Pandavs lay about ready to die without a fight. Krishna might not come down for our cause, but we know now that just five men can do the job if need be. And we're more than five. Write to me and tell me how you think a difference can be made. So many of you say how frustrating and hopeless the situation is. Well, to quote a reader, Hari, who mailed me, maybe it's time to stop being retro-active and start being pro-active.
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