Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Catharsis by Words by Soumava Sengupta

Shome is a very dear friend and someone I have been trying to get onto blogging for quite some time now. He has a tremendous sense of humour which reflects in the way he writes. See if you can persuade him to join the bandwagon with us...

Over to U Shome...

Bermuda lost to Bangladesh yesterday, and the hopes of a billion Indian's sank. For a nation that has been brought up on a steady diet of stories where heroes make a 'comeback' against all odds and triumph over 'evil' in the face of unspeakable adversity, the harsh reality of India not being able to sneak into the Super 8, and script something similar, was a splash of very cold water on the face. The romantic notion of the revival of the century was over. There was going to be no Lagaanesque win. We were truly and fully knocked out.

Of course Bermuda lost its big chance too. And I am not talking about cricket here. It could have been the most popular country in the world for more than a billion people had it managed to wallop Bangladesh. It would have been a huge jump. From being equated to a rather shabby, ill-shaped, half trouser it would finally be recognized as a nation. A brave, warrior, cricket playing nation. But it was not to be. It will go down as the life buoy that failed to inflate when Indian cricket was splashing around in the inky black, rough waters of early elimination.

The reactions to our exit are as varied as our nation itself. It ranges from the banal and obvious ("We were out of form, and played poorly") to the sharp analytical ("Our top few guys are too old) to the hysterical ("Bastards are only worried about endorsements! Lets boycott all products endorsed by cricketers") to the conspiratorial ("Dada did this. He made sure Dravid did not win the World Cup") to the political ("We need to kick all Bangladeshis out of India) to the petty ("Thank god Pakistan is also out") to the emotional ("Why?? WHYYYY?? It's the death of cricket I tell you. The death), and lastly to the evergreen denial ("Cricket? What is cricket??!! It's only a small insect that makes a lot of noise in the night. There is no such game and hence we have lost nothing!")

Things are going to be very ugly for the sports and the gentlemen who represent India for the next few months. India is not only a nation of a billion fans, but also of a billion pundits. Everyone will be sitting on his high chair of judgement and passing verdicts on what should have been done, and what could have been done and who is to blame and who is the real villain of the piece. So get ready to watch the media circus of the year in the next two months. Who knows, you might actually spot Ashish Nehra after four years or get reminded of Shiv Sundar Das as every channel tries to provoke and confront and bring to light the True Cause of this moral shattering loss.

Questions will be raised on all our heroes. Are they good enough? Is Tendulkar really a great batsman or is he a weak team bully? Does Dravid deserve to be in the team? When has Dhoni performed last? Why did Sehwag play? And who gets Agarkar back in the team everytime? Media with its sensational tone and peering, drama laden eyes will hold the microphone under any nose it deems fit and goad for a response. And yes, you can vent your angst and toss your few pearls of wisdom through SMS too! The biggest reality show in India is just about to begin.

But things will settle down eventually. Like it does so beautifully in India. People will forget about March 23rd, 2007. Blame the defeats to fate and destiny and the poor quality ghee used in all the yagnas that were done for the benefit of the team. The chanting will start again, Dhoni will be cheered, Sachin revered, Ganguly admired, Agarkar reprimanded. The game must go on. The fans will start building their castles of hope again and placing the modern day gods back on their pedestals. 2011! That's going to be our year. And yes, Tendulkar will play. At 37. Just like Lara is playing this time.

Its not the beginning or the end that I have a problem with. It's the middle that I am worried about. No, I am not talking of our batting order. I am talking about the events that are going to unfold from now on till the time things return to normalcy and 2011 catches the buzz. Of course its going to be hot for the players as they come back. If you desire to be worshipped, then have the guts to take the sucker punch when you fail. Look at the Big B. He has done it all his life. And of course things will return to absolute normalcy soon. And we will be sending another 15 to the 2011 World Cup. The key question to be asked is what should we be doing from the time things cool down to the time that we need to send the team to 2011?

Cut to 2003. We got thrashed in the final (again a 23rd March!) The team came back to a muted response. The nation knew that a better team had won. Promises were made to improve. New coach, new mantra: Young blood, new captain, new mission - 2007!

In the end, we send a 15 member team with 9 guys from the old team. And worse, in the playing 11, only 3 of the Young Blood finally got in. Basically, we sent back and played the same team that we had in 2003 after having identified that some changes were required. We knew that we needed to build a new team, a leaner, sleeker, younger unit. And we failed to do exactly that.

In my mind that's the failure of Indian cricket. Not being able to stick to a plan. Either in game or in strategy. And this time we have a chance again to cure things. The wake up call is harsher than last time. And the cause of worry, given the performance, deeper. Let all the so called pundits get their heads together and decide what to do, but after having decided, let's stick to the plan.

Here wishing everyone happy introspection and profound retrospective wisdom. Think through, talk about it and use the blogs to shape the team you want. After all, the true fan must take his responsibility further than screaming hysterically when things are good and flinging mud at the walls of cricketers when things go wrong.

1 comment:

Abhigyan said...

that's quite well put Shome...and especially the bit abt analysis from nehra and shiv sunder das..hehe..

I tell u what the problem is...last time no pundit thought it was a disgrace, getting walloped in the finals..and we actually went on to more commendable feats the subsequent season in oz and pak..this time it is an embarrassment, not becoz we lost, but how...

Such disasters are usually opportunities, which will surely be never taken in indian cricket circles..to implement some deep reforms to create a team (not individuals) the country deserve..

and the corporate buzz will be back..becoz we don't have any other similar mass-sport to back..at least none till KPS and Jyothikumaran are around..