On Monday, I wrote an article To my surprise, the response has been enormous. We present here some selections from the mailbox.
One common thread runs through most of your mails - that it is time the message got across to the BCCI. Fine - so here's your chance to make yourself heard, loud and clear. Read the piece, read the mails below... then mail me with your thoughts on the issues discussed, tell me what you think the BCCI should be doing... and I will make sure that Mr Raj Singh Dungarpur and other BCCI bigwigs get copies of your thoughts.
It might not usher in a revolution overnight - but it will be a start. So go for it!

Prem Panicker

The meek shall not win at cricket

From: Jeff Valentino <>
Date sent: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 00:31:12 -0800

The piece "Just Do It", about the attitude of the Indians, is a masterpiece - a copy of this needs to be sent to the BCCI and to the Indian cricket team in a hurry.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to ask the fans to endorse this view, so that everyone knows that we Indians care and that at least the cricket fans are firmly behind the team should they decide to call a spade a spade.

From: Alok Rakyan <>
Date sent: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 15:20:52 +0900

Prem, I could not but agree with you more on the subject of India's inability to stand up and talk eye to eye with their opponents, both on and off the field.
The change, which I agree too must come, has to come from the top, decisions, policies, implimentations, discipline always has to trickle down from the higher level. But the stumbling block is from the kind of people who are at the ruling helm themselves. Zonalism, political nepotism, corruption of thought seems to be the order of the day, and until or unless that itself is not rooted out there can be and will not be a positive change or direction towards improvement. No meek request or politeness will sway them away from their crown, and therefore it comes upon us to make the required effort. When I say us it includes the public, the ex- and present cricketers themselves and most visibly the media. A sort of mutiny, revolution of system has to take place to able to drill any sense into their thick cereberums. As someone once said, "The bad people get elected by the good people who do not vote", similiarly the good people who sincerely want the transformation to take place have to speak out,irrespective of image,status or losses.
It may take a while but the end result will only be good and nothing else. Its high time we realized that good boys dont always win, its the not so goody goody ones who go home laughing at our cost. Not that this means we need to become bad and ugly but just that we cannot take things lying down when we rightly and justifiably believe in ourselves that justice is not being done and not being met.

From: Srikanth Nathella <>
Date sent: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 00:46:35 -0500

Prem, I agree with U 200% on the issues raised in the article Just Do It. I have been feeling the same for a long time, and was wondering why our media always keeps singing the praises of the foreign media/foriegn teams, captains, managements etc. If dust bowls win tests for us, so be it. We do need our domestic pitches to help our bowlers as much as batsmen, but heck, why not make the best possible pitches for our team's advantage in case of international matches?
Where is it written that a good cricket pitch is the one where the ball bounces above your head, like at Durban, but not where it turns, as at Ahmedabad? If pace bowling and the ability to play it is part of cricket, then so too is spin - so why be apologetic about it?
It is excellent that you are standing up for Indian cricket. Why don't you take this up as a personal crusade, and ensure that the BCCI, the selectors and others get copies of your article? Continuous bombardment of this message will, I believe, finally drive home the point.

From: Rajan D Gautam <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 97 20:44:55 -0800

While I read cricket articles on Rediff with interest and enjoyment, it is not typical for me to respond to articles very often. This once, however, I feel impelled to let you know that you have hit the nail right on the head.
I agree with every word you wrote. If I could make a suggestion, please take this article to the BCCI and make sure that they read it and start putting it into practice. Tape several copies of this article to the walls in the players' dressing rooms at each and every venue in the WI.
Here's hoping that they have a fantastic tour of the WI and return to India after completely wiping out the hosts.

From: Venky Ganesan <venky_ganesan">
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 97 21:23:27 -0600

Great job, and it is nice to see one journalist not prepared to sacrifice his pride and that of his country at the altar of sycophancy.
Perhaps its the lack of self-esteem, perhaps its the fact that we are poor but whatever it is, we Indians have made it a national pastime to abase ourselves at the feet of foreigners. And this has got to stop.
For this reason alone, Manoj Prabhakar must be bought back. No man stood up for his country more proudly than him.

From: Sandeep Sopori <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 97 19:21:55 -0800

Yes, I whole heartedly agree with the points raised in the article Just Do It. I think Tendulkar has the killer instinct, but then he should talk. Actually it is the BCCI which has made our cricketers look like dumb guys. Mr. Dungarpur and company are to be blamed. Players are too scared and conscious of their career and hence no complaints.
But still we have some hope. Azhar is showing little agressiveness and I think Indians should throw some tantrums...imagine what would have happened if the Indian captain had been caught rubbing the cricket ball with dirt taken out from his pocket (vide the English captain Mike Atherton in Australia).
I believe that we need to protest the racist/biased attitudes of the foreigners in the strongest possible terms.

From: S Jagadish <>
Date sent: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 11:08:01 +0800

This is regarding your on India needing to shed its meek image, at least as far as cricket is concerned. You talk about why the BCCI doesn't do something when opposition captains etc complain about facilities, wickets etc while touring India. Do you seriously think a board which hosts a 4 nation ODI tournament soon after the Indian team has been playing non-stop cricket for over around 12 months (Feb-May) has ANY concern about the players? No, I seriously think NOT. I wouldnt even mind if it was a Test series, but its just another meaningless ODI tournament.
So what if its to commemorate the 50th anniversary of independence? Must it be at the cost of our cricketeers? Imagine how jaded Srinath and Prasad for instance will be at the end of the West Indies tour! They'd have been bearing the brunt of the attack right from November (SA in India), going onto the ODI series, then in SA, then the SBI series and then a gruelling 5 test, 4 ODI series in WI! And what about Dravid or Ganguly, who are to be our main batsmen along with SRT for the next decade or so? Wont they be drained out?! Of course the BCCI takes care of its players, it provides them with a plethora of match practice! :)
Take the case of the no. of matches we played in SA before the 1st test, how many was that? ONE, and that too on a wicket which would fit in perfectly as far as Indian grounds are concerned, while the 1st test was played on one of the liveliest wickets you'd have come across. Result? We lost by 300 plus runs. Take the Aussie trip to SA on the other hand, they've got nothing short of FIVE tour games before they go into the first test. That not only gives them a lot of match practice, it also helps them select the best possible XI for the 1st test. And who is to blame ? Certainly the BCCI. Surely it could have asked for more tour matches! But I guess it tried to go along the SA line and said "Okie, we'll take whatever u give".
Regarding shedding our image of being a meek, hospitable host, I for one think that you should give as you receive. No team in international cricket plays by the book anymore, so there is just no point in trying to act like gentlemen. Even in hockey, whether we win a tournament or not, we definitely end up getting the fairplay trophy. Heck, I'd rather we won the main tournament through rough means than win a fairplay trophy. After all, no one is going to say India won the Champions Cup fairplay trophy for the 4th year in succession. I'd rather hear India won the Champions Cup for the 4th year in a row!
However we shouldnt carry it too far. I dont see any reason why we shouldn't sledge or complain about umpiring/match refereeing/practice facilities/pitches etc. Effectively, what I'm saying is its high time we stopped acting like doodh-peete bacche and grew up. Its a man's world, you gotta live and play in it. So there's no harm in acting and playing tough. If others do it and succeed, why not we too !

From: Manoj Kumar <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 97 20:42:30 -0500

I was just reading your article on our "meek" cricket team. I too think its time the players and the BCCI got tough. I was wondering if there is some way of actually raising the issue of Donald -Pollock incidents with the ICC President. If everybody could mail the ICC their disgust about the incidents then the South Africans might learn a lesson or two.

From: Anand M Shroff <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 17:02:46 -0800

Great article. Says almost everything I've felt for a long time. I would mention one more thing though: slave mentality. We are still living in the Raj, where the white man has to be pleased. Mark my words, Indians would have complained heatedly had similar treatment been meted out to them by Sri Lankans or Pakistanis. Even here in the US I see this trend - of Indians bending over backwards to please Americans. And it sickens me.

From: Sridhar Moorthy <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 18:50:37 -0500

The article Just Do It was right on the mark. The Indians' attitude reflects a basic inferiority complex - a legacy of being ruled by others for so long perhaps? Do not rock the boat. Let things slide - that seems to be our watchword.
One may wonder whether combativeness off the field really has any effect on the playing field. I think it does. It has to do with pride and a basic aggressiveness, without which it is impossible to win. Consider this: there isn't that much difference in quality among the top teams (I don't consider India one of them - they are definitely weaker, combative or not). What carries the day often is mental strength and the desire to win. Among the Asian teams Sri Lanka & Pakistan have exhibited these qualities. India has not.
A meek team which takes repeated abuses lying down also gets used to losing. They are almost afraid to win.
It is high time Indian players, managers, BCCI, etc. stood up for their rights, vocally, and not let even the slightest insult/bad umpiring/inadequate facilities go unanswered. On tours, somebody should be designated as public spokesperson. It helps if this person speaks good English (someone like Pataudi or Gavaskar) and is otherwise confident. It is possible that some of the Indians' diffidence comes from not having such a person on the touring party. Neither Tendulkar nor Madan Lal - whom I have heard speak - qualify.

From: Ashit Ahluwalia <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 23:36:44

The article you wrote was interesting to read. And it did give a solution to the enigma of Indian Cricket. I guess it's about time that every Indian stood up for the team rather than making bland statements like "India has the talent, but lacks aggression." Puhleez!! I'm sick and tired of hearing this! It's time for every Indian to speak as one and for the BCCI to get aggressive too. It seems that unless the BCCI speaks up, things will remain the same; the Indians will take crap from teams like Australia and South Africa, and lose games and their self confidence into the bargain.

From: Prabhjot Gill <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 15:31:52 -0800

I just read your article and I fully support your views. There is no reason for the Indian players to suffer injustice in silence and the BCCI to shy away from criticising other cricketing countries, when deserved. I hope BCCI will listen to such views.

From: Paddy Padmanabhan <>
Date sent: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 08:47:53 +1000

Excellent article. Now that cricket comes to our lounge, we can see what the other teams are upto. They whinge, sledge, do anything. Its us who play the game in the spirit of the game. We never play to win. Sachin as a player was great in handling Aussie sledges in his last trip. In his interview with India Today after becoming captain he said "Now that I am captain Let me do it my way". He needs to include aggression as part of the spirit.
For the same reason I was happy that Dalmiya at least stood up to them. Hope he wins against the England-Aussie front.

From: Sanjay Bhatia <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 14:39:56 -0800

The article is an excellent analysis of the Indian sportsmen's psyche. I couldn't agree with you more. In my opinion, the Indian cricketers and officials must take up the problems that the players faced in SA. It is utterly disgusting that the Indian team had no support at the nets before the games.
I have maintained that the difference between the Indian and Pakistani side is only the killer instinct. Our team lacks the instinct to go onto the ground, and kill. The Bangalore game (which I must have watched a few hundred times now) was different. There it was crowd support and instinct. Watch the first 12 overs of the Pakistan batting, and you will see how different it is from the rest of the game.
From: Narayan Babu <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 16:30:34 -0600

I enjoyed reading the article on attitude of Indian cricketers. This attitude is not limited to cricketers alone. I have been living in the US for more than 5 years now. One behavioral pattern that you notice of Indians is that they seem to be such un-friendly people - but only to fellow Indians. The Indian grocer who has the shop across the street always seems to being a bad day - looks grumpy, gives you dirty looks all the time. But my American friends think the same chap is very friendly, very warm towards them. Go figure!

From: Shyam Chulki <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 13:56:18 -0800

As I was going thru ur article on the net (which tells about the gentlemanly nature of Indians vis-a-vis that of others), a few things came to mind.
When S.Africa was reinducted into the cricketing world, they behaved well. They were praised to be the most professional and 'fair' team, and even went to great extremes to prove it. I distictly remember a couple of instances where Cronje (then a rookie) ascted magnanimously. And by that, I don't mean that he gave a negative reply to a close catch. He merely applauded a great shot, and, if memory serves correctly, he applauded a great innings from Azza.
Reminds me of the time when Agassi was fresh, and he used to clap for every great shot his opponent played.
Why then, is the S.African team now grumbling ? Doesn't professionalism mean playing in all conditions, taking your hosts' hospitality with humility, and performing come what may?
I think in this regard, the Indians are much better.
Interestingly, Shirish Nadkarni made a comment in the Sunday Review yesterday. He said that in the coming series against the Windies, Walsh and Ambrose may dig their eyes into the Indian batsmen after a rib-crunching delivery, and Srinath and Prasad might actually look apologetically at Lara and Co.

From: Narendra Karambelkar <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 13:23:21 -0800

You are bang on target. We should also start sledging & criticising but at the same time our players should also do what Azhar did: having taken a marginal catch, promptly signals that it is not out - rather than foloow the example of the great South African fielder who claimed a catch that was unfairly taken.

From: Sunil Vasudevan <sunny@howe.EE.McGill.CA>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 97 15:41:16 -0500

I more than agree with you re the article 'Just do it'. We Indians are now paying for the legacy of non-violence and tolerance advocated by the Gandhis and Nehrus. It has rubbed on us in all aspects of life. But this is a man eat man world, and only the fighters survive. It is time to discard our reputation of being hospitable, humble, tolerant etc, etc... These values are for preaching and time has come to call a Spade a Spade!! Only way this can be achieved is by taking pride in ourselves and never let others speak their mind without a response from our side. I want all the Indian players to wear their Indianness on their sleeves and be proud of it. Declare to the world "We're Indians and we play the game hard" No bones about that and no second thoughts.
Thanks for a thought-provoking article. Hope all the players and the BCCI officials read it.

From: Ajay Ghatge <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 14:20:30 -0500

This subject, the supposed lack of killer instinct, has been discussed whenever India lose crucial games which, again, it deserved to win. Our system never promotes the instinct and so our problems have deep roots. The attitude of players is only a reflection of people around them. Although most Indians are unnecessarily shy to take any stand, there is still a sizable amount of Indians who are fierce and aggressive. But enough of putting the blame on the system.
One way to change this attitude is through the Captain. If players see their captain taking bold steps, they willl follow him. Also, unity among the players really means that if a player is given a bad treatment, the other players immediately give the same treatment to the bully, through their game or verbally, whatever. Even if one player stands up, it affects the whole team. Take the case of the World Cup quarter final at Bangalore. The manner in which Venky Prasad shot back at Aamir Sohial after smashing made the Pakistanis realise that this is no time to try the sort of funny stuff Sohail tried. And after Sohail was bundled out by Prasad, no one, not even Miandad, made any attempt to demoralise the Indians. And remember how the Indian team changed after the fall of Sohail's wicket - everybody started chasing the ball, diving etc. So the point is somebody has to stand up, and the others will follow. But to sustain the instinct in the team, captain must ensure that players are aware that whenever they play, our national pride is at stake, not their respective places in the team. I sincerely doubt if our players realise how humiliating it is to take so many big and continuous defeats. I hope that accountability soon comes in indian cricket.

From: Deepak Balur <>
Date sent: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 10:31:24 -0800

Let me congratulate you on your article "Just Do It", your anaylsis of the way Indians accept shoddy treatment from others is accurate. This is not true just for cricket but in every sphere of life. Everyone seems to be learning, except the Indians. The problem is we have double standards, one for us and one for the others.
We on the whole should shed our non-violent/good boy image, that does not mean that we should be the first to do wrong, but when wronged we should allow our players to throw tantrums. We should not forget this and the next time when that teams visit india they should be taught a lesson on and off the field. Media here plays a very important part, I have been in America for almost two years, I read almost all the newspapers, whenever an article is printed it is never openly stated that the US policy is wrong but instead the other party is projected as the culprit.
No Sport is no played in a gentlemanly way, people play to win. If our cricketers cannot understand this then maybe we should start teaching this in schools, that it is a crime to be polite when you are wronged.
So,when other cricketing teams visit India the media should highlight the treatment meted out to us, this I am sure will be read by visiting teams,the point to made is they should know they are hated for treating our teams badly. Just see what Sri Lanka and Pakistan have done for theirselves and their country's image. No one calls them bad sportsmen and cheats anymore, I certainly do not,I call them fighters.

If we do it, maybe they will label us as bad hosts and uncivilised people, but I bet that's what they call us even now so we've nothing to lose.

Like I said, folks, the response has been, quite literally, overwhelming. Many though the letters are here, there is even more of them in the mailbox - we have time constraints, and therefore will be able to put them up only tomorrow. Look for it. Meanwhile, thanks for the mail, and do keep them coming. Also, for all those who have strong feelings about the issues raised, do make it a point to enter your thoughts in the Talk Cricket link provided, so we can pass them on to the BCCI mandarins. Again, thanks - Prem

See posts of 22.2.97
See posts of 21.2.97

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