“What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” *

Sfx, actually Bush plans to bring bug spray for himself when he watches the crickets play.

Sfx, I once tried to play cricket on my back lawn but couldn’t get white uniforms to fit the little critters.

I was off today and missed the fireworks, which seemed like deja vu after similar move on Wednesday. This has to take a toll on the market so don’t expect any heroes to be stepping to the plate Friday although a slew of data from the U.S. should be dollar supportive. It will be more like a cricket match (passive) than baseball (aggressive). I just added this last part to irk my buddy Sfx.

Just a sample of some of the stuff one hears about at work from people (americans – yes those kind of people) when one talks about cricket. Its not rare – particularly when they walk past the desk and see the 5 year old daughter’s photograph sitting next to that of Sachin T.

Well, as they like to say, its their bad.

The way I see it though, cricket is what captures it all. Coincidentally or otherwise, most of my friends agree.

Cricket – and to a large extent, escapist Bollywood are a big reason India is what it is. But for them – the passion they evoke, the perspective they bring, the feelings they present , the heroes they make and even the time they consume – the poverty and chaos of India would have made war torn Iraq seem like a walk in the park.

Cricket over the years has basically moulded India. Its been the frontrunner of it all. My generation , and by that I mean the men who were boys when I was a boy, grew up appreciating cricket on Radio. Life felt better when there was a 5 am start to listen to the start of an India- Australia test match. That determined search through all the whirrrrrr for a Short Wave station that could get one to listen to a England v West Indies Test Match being played at Lords was worth rushing home from school for. Picking up the latest Sportsweek at the circulating library was pretty close to top of mind every weekend.

And Test Matches were played only in the big cities.

It wasn’t a surprise then that most of the players that made it were from the big cities as well. The role models were all there. As far as the rest of India’s careers were concerned – whatever they might be – , if you wanted to make it , chances are you headed for the cities.

Then came television. And with it came exposure. I could now sit at grandma’s in Mhow and see what the best of the best were like. Bombay still had the opportunities but suddenly one could see the costs and risks associated with its rewards. Kapil Dev from Chandigarh played his first Test match. It was also the first one he saw. Then he combined with a city stalwart called Sunil Gavaskar and won us a One Day game (no radio commentary or tv coverage for those) in Berbice. Then he won us the World Cup.

And India realised that you didn’t have to be city bred to be a champion.

As television grew, so did its reach. Matches were now played in places which were earlier just cities you learnt of either when you took a train. Or for that geography exam. Slowly but surely, the results started showing. More and more cricketers from the smaller towns started making it. The Bombay – Delhi Ranji trophy monopoly started getting questioned.

The role model wasn’t a city superhero. It was one of us…

Slowly but surely, more and more people from the smaller towns and cities started asserting their abilities (for they always had them). The reforms which heralded the new India weren’t all economic wizardry. They were as the finance minister now likes to say , a structural shift. India had started shining. All of it.

With success come expectations. And heartbreak. Victories are celebrated with fervour. And defeats are seen as the end of the world.

There is another problem. Free Speech. Or more correctly, its abuse. As Kartik has mentioned in his post the problem with ODI cricket, especially in India is that it is impossible to rebuild a team because the public does not tolerate reverses.

That too is not limited to cricket. A few years ago, Chandrababu Naidu got “anti incumbency” as his policy of growing a city to generate revenue for the villages was stopped in midflight. Hyderabad’s growth while farmers suffered meant that the India Shining ad campaign was actually viewed by the rural who vote as a satire. Democracy isnt the best recipe for social justice.

Its with that background that I am really keen to see how we react to the massive blow at the World Cup.


8 thoughts on ““What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” *

  1. But democracy is the best way to go about implementing social justice because of the buy in from the people for whom the changes are being made in the first place.

    Likewise, it is easy to rebuild a team from scratch as long as there is buy in from the paying public.

    The trick is to get the paying public onside.

    Since you mentioned the US, teams there are built and broken all the time. There is as intense a media scrutiny there as it is in India. Difference is, there is accountability – the press, TV, organization, players – the whole shebang.

  2. Homer

    The key of course, is buy in. What happens when there isnt a buy in? In the Naidu example, assume, if you will, that the idea was to get money thru the cities, make hyderabad a hub – and then use that money to develop the rest of the state. No luck. Cos the guys in the city hardly vote and the guys in the villages who do dont give a ratz about what happens in the city. So Mr Naidu, kal mat aana.
    Its very debatable, I know – but with the big two moving forward, the non democratic form of China will probably end up generating social justice first. Shanghai / Beijing et al develop and the awesome clout that generates will get the provinces developed too. It might take time but guess what, you’ll have to wait.

    Democracy is impatient. In a lot of ways, in Indian sport, the whole region representation for games / selection / stadia / panel / tv rights / panels / organisation berths – is all a reflection of that very ill (for want of a better word) in India. Everyone wants a slice of the pie. And if they dont get it, they behave like Dayanand Narvekar and Shashank Manohar

    That accountability which we expect from a players performance, we are nowhere close to expecting from anyone else unfortunately.

  3. In the Naidu case and otherwise, we started off with laudable idea but came up against the two big deal killers – pace of implementation and communication of intent.

    believe people are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and are willing to go through some rough times as long as they know things are going to be better on the other side – they just need repeated reassurance that the effort is worthwhile.

    Think back to what happened after the match fixing scandal broke.
    People were disillusioned, some went away from the game. Some stayed – hoping against hope that things may turn out to be different.
    And they did didnt they? In the 8 odd years since match fixing, how often have you heard the debate framed along the lines of “so many from the North Zone, so few from the West”. Contrast this with how things were prior.
    Think about foreign coaches and trainers and physios and think how it was before.
    Yes, we have bad administrators. And the BCCI is a monolith. But there are now reports of the corporates moving away from the game – the BCCI’s oxygen is about to be sucked away.
    We stand at the cross roads. What direction we take will determine whether Indian cricket moves forward or we regress.
    Either ways, it will be out fault 🙂

  4. Thats exactly rite Homer … Crossroads, bigtime.
    But as you point out , and as history has shown , this too shall pass.

    The other thing to watch out for as the BCCI oxygen gets sucked away is what happens to the Nimbus etc cash cows. Lalit Modi and co have promised the world and then some to people who have coughed up a fortune. Also , and this I really should cross reference with your Dravid – Dhoni post re sponsors , but someone like Dhoot saying that is not good news. No publicity is better than bad publicity.

    I just hope they dont pull a few stunts – (as an aside, apparently was this rumour going around in some circles in in bombay that they were planning a ind-pak impromptu ODI series next month … to my response that the ICC wud never allow it , was told it wud be a charity series – to raise money for the bob woolmer foundation – but with tv rights of course..)

  5. ” Homer said…


    the BCCI and the PCB will now schedule a series – to take the spotlight off the World Cup. India will win 2, Pakistan will win two, the World Cup will be a sideshow, the Boards will make a ton of money, and the fans will have something to cheer about.

    All will be happy 🙂


    3:17 PM ”


    I put that comment up on Omar’s blog on Friday, March 23 ..

    Thing is, with Nimbus not making projected profits and the BCCI getting into a revenue sharing mode – bottom lines will get affected.

    The BCCI are lucky that in the next 3 months we have a relatively easy ride till we play the Poms in Tests. If there ever was a time to show intent, it will be now. Miss the boat and it will hit us hard – during India’s Oz tour.

    And the repercussions then will be real damaging – as it is , the Board’s credibility is at its lowest.

  6. and for all that is bad with the Board, stupid they ain’t. And they, more than anyone else, are sensative to public sentiment especially if it is going to have a long term impact on their revenue resources.

    PS: just why cant I put all of this in a single comment is beyond my understanding.

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