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!