10 Thoughts on T20 World Cup Win

I have never written about cricket before. Why? I’m not sure – sometimes I think enough is being written all around, and I can’t add any value. At other times, I don’t think it has any real “post-substance”, so I let it pass by. Well, such an opportunity doesn’t come very often, so let me take this 20-20 World Cup win to break this abstinence!

2020WorldCup

Here are random thoughts about the win in no particular order:

  1. I think Dhoni is the future of Indian cricket captaincy. Don’t you just love his repartees? He gave it back to the press when they had earlier asked if Yuvraj was taken as a bowler in the team. He gave it back to Ravi Shastri over an article on Cricinfo after defeating the Aussies. He gave it back in front of the mammoth Mumbai crowd when he answered back in Hindi, after being questioned in Marathi and English.
  2. I wonder if being a wicket-keeper captain has inherent advantages? To start with, he is able to be as close to the action on the pitch as possible. He can observe the bowling performances, the batsmen’s mood/discomforts/etc. and take decisions regarding bowling changes or advise bowlers accordingly. Being centrally located, he is in better visible and audible contact with as many fielders as possible. Observe how many captains, from Gavaskar to Ponting, have taken slip fielding positions whenever possible…
  3. If you ask me what is the single most important difference (physical not psychological) in this team – it is the fielding. I saw a completely different vigor and enthusiasm in the fielding. Never before have I seen two direct-hit run-outs by India within a tournament at critical stages.
  4. I think the people who destroyed Dhoni’s upcoming house brick-by-brick after the WC debacle should now apologize to him and rebuild it brick-by-brick themselves.
  5. It is amazing how cricket unites our country. We may not be a truly secular country, but cricket is the most secular aspect of our culture. It unites us (whether in despair or in triumph) across religions, castes, economic status, education levels, geographic region, language, etc.
  6. On another note, I know that there are political compulsions in player selections for tournaments. But these are up to the level of states. Given that, does Indian cricket exemplify “equal opportunity” in terms of there being no discrimination based on education/caste/status/economic level? Seeing today’s heroes hailing from impoverished backgrounds, illiterate parents – does this “dream come true” hold any meaning for the common Indian?
  7. A lot of hue and cry is being made about the comment by the losing Pakistani captain apologizing to all muslims of the world for losing. Many Indian muslims have come out and expressed that their patriotism was offended by that remark. Others are cautioning not to bring religion into cricket in the Asian sub-continent, where cricket is a religion. I believe this hue and cry was given birth to and fueled by CNN-IBN who started flashing it as a ‘stir’ based on a couple of comments on their site. Folks, let’s learn to be gracious winners. The poor guy had just frustratingly lost the world cup final when it was almost in their grasp. Called on the world stage, he tried his best to apologize. If you notice how the Pakistani players never fail to mention Inshallah in every other sentence, you might be convinced that it is best to overlook his shortsightedness at such a humiliating moment.
  8. When the city-that-never-sleeps came to a standstill when welcoming the heroes, it was simply acting on behalf of the entire nation. It was disgusting to watch the spectacle marred by specimens of the politicus patheticus species, whose dinosaur sized posters lined up the roads and whose best representatives tried to hog (pun intended) the limelight. The NCP government of Maharashtra, not to be outdone by myopic Shiv Sena gave a trophy to the team that had a map of Maharashtra and not India!
  9. The Asia-Cup winning hockey players are understandably upset and contemplating a hunger strike. This leads to several interesting questions. Hockey is our national game because for many decades we were undisputed champions in field hockey. What should be the criteria to decide a national game? Dominance, popularity? Can a national game be changed? On the other hand, why is cricket more popular than hockey ever was?
  10. We must remember that the 20-20 game format is such that luck and chance play a greater role than in other formats. This is certainly not to undermine or undercut the team’s terrific achievement. It is simply to note that we should not have unrealistic expectations of the Indian team from the coming series against Australia and in future.
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  • //I think Dhoni is the future of Indian cricket captaincy.//-One reason why I think he is the future of at least ODI is his temprament and the way he handles his team.The senior cricketers bring too much of politics with them.At the moment he is uncontroversial.
    // It was disgusting to watch the spectacle marred by specimens of the politicus patheticus species, whose dinosaur sized posters lined up the roads and whose best representatives tried to hog (pun intended) the limelight// It was disgusting and they made a fool of themselves.
    //Given that, does Indian cricket exemplify “equal opportunity” in terms of there being no discrimination based on education/caste/status/economic level?There is discrimination on the basis of which state you belong to and what sort of clout you have with the high ups in the management.
    //On the other hand, why is cricket more popular than hockey ever was?// Hockey was popular as long as our guys were winning. The last time we won an Olympic Gold was during the Moscow games. One Asia Cup won’t make a difference.
    //I believe this hue and cry was given birth to and fueled by CNN-IBN who started flashing it as a ’stir’ based on a couple of comments on their site.//It hurt and I wrote about it as soon as the comment was made and there were many more like me.
    Very nice post.

  • Prerna: Just for my knowledge as I’m not very well-versed in this: //There is discrimination on the basis of which state you belong to and what sort of clout you have with the high ups in the management.//

    I already knew and have written about the state discrimination. But after that, when you have to choose, say 2 players from a state, is there discrimination among candidates within that state? If that also requires clout and pull, then does that mean that folks like Joginder Sharma had such clout and pull?

    Thanks in advance for your response, I’m just trying to learn more!

  • Knowing next to nothing about cricket, I shall instead thank you for your comment.

  • Though I am not a sports freak, I thought this was a good summing up of the current situation. Most of the posts I come across are emotional something or the other. I agree that there was too much hype about that statement ref your point no. 7.
    And your last point is something that I have been thinking about. I think everyone is going overboard. That poor guy Dhoni, he’s just started! While he has great potential, I think the press should lay off him for a while and let him find a comfort level with the captaincy.

  • Prerna: //Hockey was popular as long as our guys were winning. The last time we won an Olympic Gold was during the Moscow games. One Asia Cup won’t make a difference.//
    Hypothetically, if our hockey team starts winning all the major world hockey tournaments, will it ever be as popular and generate mass hysteria as cricket does?

    I wouldn’t put my money on such a bet. I think the fundamental differences in the nature of the two games give rise to the difference in levels of popularity, not just the degree to which we win or lose. A larger field with a larger crowd, fielders scrambling to save boundaries, and balls being struck into the air – either to be caught or as a bonus six runs – all this gives the game a flamboyance and majesty that hockey can never attain.

    Brian: you don’t need to thank me. Even if you don’t understand cricket, you can find resonance between your post and my #7 above.

    Nita: thanks! Probably that was another factor why I was in general turned-off by cricket-related posts…
    Your thoughts rhyme with mine. Indian cricket fans are notorious in being bullish regarding their expectations. They can never tolerate a bear run…so it’s better to come back to the ground right now, and let Dhoni and the team cool off.

  • There are some players who are the favourites of the coach or who know some political big wig,they have a better chance of selection due to that.This is not a secret and you can hear people complaining about that. Some good players have been proving themselves in domestic cricket for years and they are unable to get a chance in the team.

  • Thanks…my #6 has gone for a six! There is no dream that ordinary folk can get inspired by…

  • Mahendra, you finally succumbed to writing a post on cricket 🙂 Maybe the namesake captain has something to do with it? 😉

    I agree that Dhoni has potential, but I’m also reminded of Irfan Pathan whose career went downhill after a similar crowning from the media. I hope Dhoni handles it better.

    Regarding #7, I was following the written commentary on cricinfo and as soon as I read that comment, it struck me as very odd. And I think the Indian Muslims are somewhat justified in raising a hue-and-cry because such comments adversely affect them, though I personally am willing to cut Shoaib some slack given the nerves and the occasion.

  • Nice post. regarding captaincy – Ganguly was like this – nasty when required 🙂 . Not that he was a bad captain. I like a captain who is aggressive. So
    Kapil, Ganguly – yes
    Gavaskar, Dravid (and probably every other captain in recent times) – no, a big no.

    I think Dhoni is of the first kind.

  • Amit: Yes…I finally succumbed, but not because of the name! 🙂 And I’m glad he’s popularly known as Dhoni and not Mahendra – it would’ve been terrible for me otherwise! 🙂

    I very much agree with you regaring Pathan – look how all the pressure and stress of the limelight took its toll on him.

    Thanks for sharing your views on #7, I understand.

    Arun: Thanks. Yes, controlled aggression is a necessary trait especially in the limited over versions of the game, but even otherwise. I too liked this aspect of Ganguly’s captaincy.

  • Ah. What a relief from the pompous pontificators on cricinfo. Extremely well summarized

  • Thanks, Ashok. Where are you these days? Looks like you’re a very busy man. Or are you lost somewhere in the deep recesses of the Tamilian blogosphere that I dare not venture into? 😉

  • naveen

    this is the first blog that turns up when u type t20 world cup on google .. thats gr8 news for u mahendra ! am an avid cricket fan and my comments on ur thoughts ..

    1) Dhoni – the future of the indian cricket captaincy.. well he definitely is the present .. and the future will be divided only when we see how the media / junta treats him after a few (many ?? ) losses…but he definitely has a great attitude as doesnt try to be “politically correct” like many of his predecessors..

    2) wicket-keeping is a tough job and being a captain while keeping is not really a big plus.. it is going to be very hard for him especially in the test matches.. slip fielding gives all the advantages u mentioned minus the hard work of keeping..

    3)absolutely brilliant in the field.. definitely one of the finest performances india have put up for an entire series..

    4) it wasnt really a house … it was a wall .. they did apologize on national tv though..what can u say indian fans are fanatic.. and some of them are plain idiots as well..

    5)very True !

    6)Politics in cricket is deep-rooted , right from clubs to cities to district level.. only if are truly exceptional ..ala Sachin.. can you probably break thru.. but once u reach the state level teams.. performances are what matter.. else we would have had rohan gavaskar playing many more matches than he has for india..

    7) as a captain u r responsible for what u say.. well the pak captain was being plain stupid and he needs to say the right things or just shut up..

    8) disgusting… but what else can we expect ? but we did elect those guys ..

    9) can the national game be changed ? — for what .. hockey hasnt got any preferential treatment for being what it is.. its a honorary title with no meaning attached to it except for one of those GK questions you would ask a 7 yr old..

    why is cricket more popular than hockey ? .. cricket is more accessible , even 2 guys with a Rs.5 ball and Rs.50 bat can play and enjoy the game as much as the T20 world cup… hockey needs much more equipment and skill .. and why not football u may ask.. well it needs more atleticism than what indians have and hence hasnt caught up in mainland india as much as in north-east where the physical skills do match up with the wonderful game..

    10) .. well we have given them an absolutely wonderful parade for winning the cup .. we expect them to win every match from now on.. !! :-))

    thats the fanatic indian cricket fan for U”

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  • I would like to add here that making cricket larger than life, which is what we do in the subcontinent), is probably not such a great idea.
    Today these young guys have won and they are being showered praise all round. But we cant deny that their was some luck involved in their getting where they did.

    Next month, they might lose a series and the same media that cannot glorify them enough will start braying for their blood, fans will go and take down somebody else’s house. This is not fair on anyone. It is after all a sport.

    And who are all these jobless people who go and throw stones outside the cricketers’ homes when they loose?

  • Naveen: thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    #2: yes, I had not thought of the continuous effort required by a wicket-keeper. What you say is very true.

    #9: accessibility – yes, another important factor I’d not thought of!

    Thanks for your comments again!

    Amreekandesi: I fully agree. We need to take it for what it is: a sport, not a religion!