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!
Here are random thoughts about the win in no particular order:
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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?
- 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.