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Cricket World Cup 2007: The Indian Saga Ends

March 23, 2007
Emma

Technically, maybe not. The billion Indian fans can pray and hope that the Bermuda team still has some tricks up its sleeve that will result in the thrashing of Bangladesh. That, of course, would open up the second round gates for a team which supposedly has the best batting line-up in the world, but one that fails to deliver every time it is called upon to do so.

Take a look at the score card for the Indian innings of the India-Sri Lanka match:
AR Uthappa - 18
S Ganguly - 7
Sehwag - 48
S Tendulkar - 0
Rahul Dravid - 60
Yuvraj Singh - 6
Dhoni - 0

There you have it - four single digits in the top seven and amongst them an average of just 19 runs. When required, yet again, the top order failed to raise its game. I am not a cricket freak, and hence didn't really watch the game. But I am married to one, and hence get caught in the whole rigmarole more often than I would like. As hubby dear sat watching the match, I got a glimpse of what was happening - to be honest, earlier in the day, on the field Indians seemed to have the Lankans on a tight leash. Runs didn't come easily, and the Lankan batsmen seemed to struggle. Yet, they didn't cave in; they seized every opportunity for a single, and made do with an occasional boundary. Importantly, they kept themselves together and didn't throw away their wickets. I didn't watch the Indian innings (no, not even a glimpse) and from the looks of it, this is exactly what the Indians didn't do.

I am not truly disappointed with the loss; I understand it is a game and on any given day the team that plays better wins. What often irks me about an Indian loss is the lack of even semblance of a fight from the Indian team. Every time they lose - be it to Bangladesh or Sri Lanka - they just seem to cave in. You begin to wonder if the team management really has a game plan. Dravid was absolutely right, this team didn't deserve to get into the second round.

Yet, I am sure there will be a national mourning, houses will be ransacked and effigies burnt. This will be discussed threadbare in the Parliament, with more minutes and hours dedicated to the game loss than the loss of lives in, say, Vidarbha, and of course, heads will roll. All of this and more will happen because we Indians have begun to look at cricket as a lot more than a game. The reactions post Bangladesh match and post Bermuda match are a study in contrasts. We beat Bermuda, for god's sake? Does that warrant celebrations on such a scale?

In a way, I am glad we lost, that we didn't make it to the next round. This was required to serve as a wake-up call in a country that glorifies every victory and rips the team apart for every loss. Every time the men in blue step onto the field, miracles are expected of them; when they do deliver they are put on a pedestal and treated as gods; but god forbid they fail, they invite the ire of everybody and nobody. The Indian team isn't even one of the top five teams of the world; it is one thing to hope that the team does well, and yet another to assume that the cup is ours to take. And if you had been following the frenzy built in the media - print and electronic - in the start up to the event, you will realize that we deluded ourselves to believing that we were good enough to win the World Cup. Hence our reactions after the loss to Bangladesh and win against Bermuda seem totally justified.

I believe the fans of the game in this country have actually killed the game. And when the game takes away the life of a man as it did in this edition, it isn't cricket anymore. I know this will not go down well with the game managers or the fans, but to reshape cricket such that it truly regains its status as a gentleman's game, I do believe drastic steps are required:

  1. Cut down on the number of games played in a year.
  2. Focus on learning, improving rather than just winning alone.
  3. A loss isn't the end of the world; what is important is what one takes away from such a loss. If required do a post-mortem after every lost match to take lessons away from it.
  4. Separate money from the game; stop telecasting matches so frequently; stop over-exposure of the players so that instead of public adulation they would focus more on the game, such that they are not burdened by the expectations to deliver always.
  5. Offer performance based incentives to the players. I am a computer professional, working in a software organization. We have a performance appraisal every six month where in you are evaluated on your performance and that is directly linked to your incentives and bonus. The system may not be fool proof but it works, and to some it is a motivating factor to perform. If our cricketers are professionals of the game, shouldn't their performance be evaluated as well?
As I said before I am not a cricket fan nor do I know a lot about the game. So all that I have detailed above may make no sense at all. All I know is this - there is too much pressure on the players, and it shows. The players have taken their place too much for granted, and they need to know that if they don't perform they don't deserve to be in the team. And importantly too much money has taken away a lot from the player and the game.

What is important is to give all that back to the game. For once, let us attempt to love and enjoy the game and not the players.

As a team lead at an IT firm in Hyderabad, I might seem to be treading the known path. But I have actually had a chequered career - alternating between being a research student to journalist to lecturer. I am passionate about books and music, and hope to make a living using these some day.
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Cricket World Cup 2007: The Indian Saga Ends

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Author: Emma

 

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#1
Sujatha
URL
March 23, 2007
11:37 PM

Now the Indian team has to actually stick around for the Bermuda-Bangladesh match rather than packing up and leaving for home, knowing fully well that the game actually going their way is mighty close to impossible.

#2
Die Hard
March 24, 2007
02:00 AM

Good article Emma.

As a non-Indian the way I see it is that Indians veiw cricket as they see Bollywood. And treat the game and their crickters accordingly. What they have to realise is that cricket is not a fantasy and it is only a game played by professional sportsman (and not heroes).

#3
Bingo !
URL
March 24, 2007
04:08 AM

you hit the nail on the head. surprising that even being so removed from cricket, you could provide insights that most of us, blinded by our unquestioning love for cricket, miss.

#4
Chandra
March 24, 2007
04:23 AM



I think everybody has the holier than thou attitude about cricket. For every fanatical cricket fan there are 99 others who will move on with their lives. I see a whole genre of people writing these days criticizing fans big time.

We did not plan well and play well. It appears now that we donot have very intelligent people in the team in terms of strategy.

For example: Even I could determine from past performances that chasing was a silly option. yet our team members chose that. (a. we have lost 70% of recent matches chasing b. In critical times of past world cup we lost chasing)

I agree with Emma totally that our team does not wish to fight. It is not because we cannot fight.....Here is why....

SCG: This was a golden chance to finish of RD. When SCG was dropped from the team, RD did everything posisble to keep him out of the team

SRT: Forget trying, he is getting old. Secondly, he believes that the BCCI will not drop him and lastly many believe that he does not forgive RD for not letting him get his century

YS- All set to be crowned captain after this world cup. A victory today would have reduced his chances and then you never know.

MSD- Pure skill issues. Footwork was always a problem and he got a great ball today. He was also unnerved by what Happened in Ranchi

Let us move on. If somebody has to be accountable it is the Indian cricket board for its inability to develop a good playing and coaching environment for its younger players.


rgds
rgds

#5
Atlantean
URL
March 24, 2007
04:32 AM

I am not truly disappointed with the loss; I understand it is a game and on any given day the team that plays better wins. What often irks me about an Indian loss is the lack of even semblance of a fight from the Indian team.

Absolutely. It is the lack of a fight that hurts most of us. I dont think we care if we lose but with a strong fight.

I also agree with your view that we need an incentive based system of selection. Players who fail for two or three consecutive matches should be asked to take a rest. The rotation policy in Australia, I believe, worked really well.

I'd like to add one more thing to your list:

6. Close BCCI for politicians. They simply shouldnt be there. We need to depoliticise Indian cricket.

The prospects for that, of course, are very dim.

#6
adios amigos
March 24, 2007
09:30 AM

women should stay away from cricket

#7
Emma
URL
March 24, 2007
08:32 PM

[Sujatha] Yes, and that sucks,isn't it? Well, one truly optimistic (I would say, foolish) colleague of hubby dear still hopes Bermuda will defeat Bangladesh and India would get into the second round. With fans such as these...

[Die Hard] Thanks. I would say that expectations to deliver on a cricketer in this country is a lot more than that on an actor. When a ShahRukh Khan's movie flops at the box office, people don't really ransack his house. You are right - Indian fans ought to realize that the cricketers too are only professional batsmen, who can fail now and then, and not miracle workers.

[Bingo!] Thanks... I guess, the insights are part-inspired by living with a man who sleeps, breathes and eats cricket :).

[Chandra] You are right - we don't generally have a game plan, a clinical way of destroying other teams, a la Australia. I was really impressed with the way Sri Lanka approached the whole game. And what is worse is we don't even have the will to fight. I wish, honestly, there is no blame game - the media, I can already see wants Chappell to take the whole responsibility for the "debacle" - but instead a genuine post-mortem on what went wrong and what can be improved.

[Atlantean] I like the 6 point you have raised. But that is going to be really difficult. Australia dropped Steve Waugh even when he had a couple of years of play left in his. Can you ever imagine that happening to Sachin Tendulkar in India?

[adios amigos] Oh well! With all the "gentlemen" doing a whole lot of good to the game, you are right, women can indeed stay away.

#8
Atlantean
URL
March 25, 2007
04:23 AM

Australia dropped Steve Waugh even when he had a couple of years of play left in his. Can you ever imagine that happening to Sachin Tendulkar in India?

I am aware of the unlikeliness of that happening in India but I feel it is one of the biggest problems we face. They say cricket is a religion in our country. I want to add it also has given rise to a number of fanatical followers. They wont let such things happen. It's sad.

#9
Chandra
March 25, 2007
04:55 AM



People should know when to retire......time for SRT/RD/SCG to retire from one day cricket...These 3 cannot even move on the field.......


rgds

#10
CHANDRA
March 25, 2007
06:07 AM

Similarities between Indian cricket and English football

a. Lot of talent
b. Lot of money
c. Zero Results
d. Crazy Fans
e. Idiotic ex-players as commentators
f. Overpaid players
g. Last won a major tournament decades ago


rgds

#11
Cricket Fan
URL
March 26, 2007
07:42 PM

In any game one team has to win and one team has to lose.

But when there is no challenge in the game and when there is no one who plays their very best - then there is no sense in playing a match. A game is only interesting when the end result is not known and when the players play a good game with some competetive spirit. It was like they knew they were going to lose so why fight and play a good match? The really charm of watch Indian team play cricket is gone now since each of them do not really care since they all have their own other agenda and other ways of making money. So why bother. Its no longer a Good Sport for the Indian Cricket Team but a farce.

A bowler scoring ZERO can be acceptable. But as a Batsman - not just one but 1 after the other when they are out and scored ZERO that is simply not acceptable. Did they really go to play or they just went for the heck of it.

#12
Paki
March 29, 2007
02:41 AM

Cricket Fan..."In any game one team has to win and one team has to lose. "

What about a tie?
or a round of golf on your own?

how does that shake your paradigm huh? yeah, thought so.

#13
Emma
URL
March 29, 2007
08:53 PM

[Atlantean] You are right - the likelihood of that happening is actually quite remote.

[Chandra] Your list of similarities between Indian cricket and English football are bang on. Thanks.

[Cricket Fan] I am one with you here. I really wouldn't care about the loss as much as the fight that goes into it. When I look at the Indian team on the field I am actually amazed at the lack of energy in them. They are almost as though going through the motions than playing a game with a desire to win. And yes, I can never understand commentators or media reporters raising say Sachin to the skies when he takes a wicket or two but contributes nought with the bat. My take - Sachin is in the team as a batsman not even as an allrounder; if he can do something else it is an added bonus but not good enough.

[Paki] That was my statement. And yes, I should have been more explicit, clearly stated, "In any game of cricket...". But since I was talking about cricket in this article, I assumed it was understood. Sorry about that.

#14
paki
March 30, 2007
02:32 AM

OK now i feel bad, I was just kidding around, as you can probably tell from many of my other posts, and i really dont expect to be taken that seriously.

#15
Emma
URL
March 30, 2007
06:53 AM

[Paki] Not intended to make you feel bad. Sorry, didn't realize you were kidding. But you are right, sometimes it does help to be more explicit in one's writings :).

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