We are an incredible people. Emotional, full of passion and totally nutso. Lovely sensation.
Nowhere in the world — and I mean nowhere — would 66,000 people gather in a stadium to cheer, back and share in the triumph and the loss of two teams with which they have no rapport and are not represented.
Indians at the Eden Gardens took the Oscar for best Performance for Cricket Lovers. Here they are, ninety per cent of them would have no idea where the Caribbean is on the map and which islands make up the West Indies. By the same token 95% of them would not be eligible for a visa to visit the United Kingdom, sorry, no go.
And yet, there they were, jumping up and down, groaning, clutching their chins in dismay, head in hands, yelling when things went right,miserable when a wicket fell. Even in their own countries England and the Windies would be hard placed to get this kind of support and reaction. If it wasn’t so splendid it would be laughable.
This is just an unusual piece to write because in a time when it is fashionable to be mean and hostile and hurtful because that is what sells it was such a nice feeling to be neutral and yet not be neutral and display a joy and excitement that reminded one of the song: S’wonderful, S’marvelous that we actually love cricket and can be happy for someone else.
That it comes only hours after Indian athletic legend Milkha Singh took a major swipe at cricket and blamed it for ruining every sport in the country is testament to India’s affection for this game. If other sports are neglected it isn’t the fault of cricket, it is the fault of the clumsy, oafish, inept sports bodies that run them.
Hockey is a perfect example of politics destroying the national game. And yet, look at the way badminton, kabaddi and tennis, through the league system have moved out of the tunnel and become financially viable. We sure want hockey, soccer and athletics to reach for the sky but unless the government, the corporate world and the final official sports body armed with those rosettes and attitude do their work seriously and mean business you cannot pass the buck for your incompetence onto cricket.
Against this background the main aim of this tirade. Leave Ravi Shastri alone. Give him an extension.
Nothing against Rahul Dravid. But Ravi has moulded a mood, jelled a team, given it a non-official togetherness that creates a player to player togetherness, not an official to minion equation as has often been the case.
We all know that, whether anyone personally likes Ravi or not. Give credit because it is due. He has delivered and the morale in the team and their sense of unity is laudable. To mess with Ravi Shastri now is to exercise a bureaucratic arrogance and stress the main bone of contention in one direct question.
Is the BCCI XI the Indian team or just a private enterprise open to challenge by anyone who wishes to finance a team?