Monday, March 26, 2012

Indian Cricket, From Down Under, to Up and Above

By Carl Jaison.

There is a hearsay doing the rounds that Sachin was clearly dissatisfied with the public disclosure of team decisions or war of words or whatever you may call it between the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virender Sehwag. While Sachin himself chose to stay away from the press meets in Australia, the Master Blaster, who recently secured his 100th international ton seems to have opened up his heart and mind like never before.

The furore involving MSD and Viru left many baffled as the two took a dig at another through uncharacteristic remarks  without actually expressing discomfort in each other’s presence. Sachin isn’t introspecting here. He is more than relieved to have scored this particular century. But since this startling comment came from the top batsman himself, one wonders whether there did exist a dark cloud over the team back in Australia.

The non-cricketing aspects apart, India looked completely clueless and listless against the Aussies which didn’t help their cause either as the MSD-Viru debacle took centrestage in a series that was billed to be the most keenly contested one between the two cricketing giants. India has been marred by controversies in the land of kangaroos  one time too many. Right from the monkey-gate scandal to the comedy-flick between Dhoni and Viru, Australia has proved to be a critic’s delight rather than an ardent fan’s hope.

The hungama Down Under brought to light the ego-clashes within the Indian team’s line-up. But what was the root cause of this problem, that has now stirred a question mark over the ethics of the team.

Greg Chappell, even here, has his say. The open-minded Australian believes Sehwag propagated this disaster, as he went on to say that the Delhi Jat was obviously upset over the decision of passing over the captaincy reins to a lesser-known Mahendra Singh Dhoni at that time after the retirement of the Gangulys and Kumbles. He says that Sehwag well and truly knew that he would be the automatic choice for the captaincy role since he has hung around with the team for quite some time but seeing a youngster being bestowed with this challenging duty, Sehwag’s ego sought revenge.

Sehwag’s body language and jibes seemed visible and well-directed at the captain, however Dhoni’s inexpressiveness and beating-round-the-bush sort of jibes ensured people pointed fingers at the Delhiite. Even experts were of the view that Sehwag could have helped solved the problem if he had just kept mum and abided to his captain’s out-of-nowhere rotational policy and primarily let his bat do the talking.

Dhoni did come up with notable knocks during the triangular ODI Tournament which may have helped him escape the knives and hammers of the millions back home. However Sehwag’s pitiable stay at the crease back in Australia led to his ouster from the team for the recently concluded Asia Cup, many believe his conduct and ego-accumulation as the reasons for his expulsion from the team. In the meanwhile, Dhoni remains safe and secured in his position while his seniors in the team are facing the axe.

The BCCI went on record saying that Sehwag’s communication lagging and inability to spit out the right words at the right time is the inflexion of all problems. While Gambhir and Tendulkar decided to let their bat do the answering, Sehwag identified Dhoni’s dig at the senior’s fielding inabilities as the perfect opportunity to avenge a similar attack on the Indian captain. Unfortunately Sehwag cut a sorry figure in all the press conferences he attended and this initiated a fresh ego-clash between the two batting superstars.

Whether he was dropped out of poor form or due to mounting tensions with the captain (or if he has been rested, as told by the Chairman of Selectors, Krishnamachari Srikkanth), the question remains whether the Indian players lack the moral values and game conduct which is so necessary in the present context. Many say that India is a team of outstanding individuals but as a unit lacks the unity and basic integrity. If anyone blames the media for having cooked up this issue, then the source of all blames must come up with a reason of their own as to how India, in their opinion, are unified and gelled like any other team.

In the overall scheme of things, Indian cricket has been most affected by these undesirable proceedings and it is not Dhoni or Sehwag who is at loss. Dhoni, with his uncanny ability to please the most tyrannical authority there is, will somehow manage to cling onto his post for a year or two while Sehwag, with his past reputation and unmatched pyrotechnics will claw his way back into the team.

So the real affected are the youngsters who grow up watching and learning from their cricketing heroes. The MSD-Viru spat, Virat’s finger-exercises and even Sreesanth’s antics may catch the eye of commercial and ad honchos but Indian cricket’s prospective talents may take a detour from their cricketing path and try replicating their heros’ less-than-heroic acts. The larger perspective of the subject matter will compel many to question the ethics associated with sportsmen, as the usual success stories in Indian cricket’s history have terrific game-achievements to boast about but dismal academic excellence.

This is why education and inculcating the prime values of life in an aspiring sportsperson becomes inevitable. The sound upbringing of youngsters, having set their eyes on the sporting arena, will help them identify between what is right and what is not ought to be right. The better bred they are in their younger days, the better behaviour they will showcase when they enter their playing days for the country. But this is not to mean that good education and excellence in sports are two sides of the same coin, rather value-imparted development of a youngster enables him to be a hero not only in the game he plays  but also present a true and ethically-educated picture of oneself.

The startling reality that match-fixing and spot-fixing has come to the fore necessitates the requirement for well grooming of youngsters as they are easily lured into the wicked part of our world. If the debacle Down Under is a blessing in disguise for our cricketing heroes to conduct themselves fairly both on and off-the-field then they can surely don the robes of a true role model for the youngsters. Blatant remarks at one another, targeting a player on the basis of his race, sledging and all other unscrupulous forms of behaviour are futile when seen in its long-term impact.

Like typical Indians, let us forget about the past horrors and hope to improve hereafter as we are poor in evaluating and scrutinizing our past failures, and so hoping for a new dawn and horizon seems the best bet. With the happenings Down Under, Indians are surely a relieved lot after the battering they took from the Aussies but a revisit to this fast-bowlers’ paradise in the near future must help the team rectify past mistakes and come up with a concrete and readymade performance.

Shrugging off the tag of  “Tigers at home, Lambs abroad” has now become a necessity for Team India. Fortunately or unfortunately as you may call it, India do not have any major abroad assignments in the near future which implies the team will be confined to playing majority of matches at home. No one is forgetting the IPL and the excitement and even irregularities it brings along with it. India is back on home turf. Down Under is a distant past.

The cyclic process will begin it’s next course. India will hammer any team that dares challenge them on home soil. Then when the team flies to foreign soil it will seek redemption from sufferings at the hands of the Australains and English  and catch a quick flight back home and the cyclic process goes on and on.
Throughout these cycles, many have come and gone, but one figure stands tall even at the darkest of hours. Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin is the master who started his cycles 22 glorious years back, and is even now part of the next cycle. His 23rd cycle…

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