Shock and Awe

It was a good day, it was a bad day. It was January 7, 2009. Though it had started off as an ordinary day with little to indicate the stunning events that were to follow. It was a day of mortals turning super men, it was a day of falling angels and all categories of men in between the two extremes. It was a day to remember, it was a day to forget. It was a day of some terrible decision making and some terrible decision makers. It was a day of painful truths; some physical; some ethical. It was a day for making statements. Some forceful, some forced.

 smith injured

The moment Dale Steyn was dismissed and the Australians began celebrating their victory, there emerged from the shadows of the SCG stands, a man with a mission. A man who refused to lose. Graeme Smith might have had a broken finger and a sore elbow but he also possessed a stout heart. He walked out in the middle to partner Ntini, who himself had shown admirable gumption in sticking around. Smith’s heroic gesture was a captain’s message to his team. The captain never abandoned his ship. He went down with it. It was a message to the opponents. South Africa was not willing to give an inch even in a dead rubber. They would scrap all the way down. They would use all their reserves and more.

In the same match, the opposite number had acted the dual role of the plaintiff and the judge, a throwback to the good old Sydney 2008 days. Some crucial decisions went against the South Africans and the final match result also was painfully similar to 2008. But in Sydney it was not surprisingly the opposition captains who walked away with all the glory. Kumble for his steely but calm reaction in 2008 and Smith for his show of defiance in 2009.

Kevin Pietersen resigned from the England captaincy (or was he asked to go?) following his not so private tiff with Peter Moores. A man who had emerged as a statesman for his efforts to make his team tour India after the tragic events in Mumbai, was suddenly finding himself standing alone sans the team. What had happened in a month to alienate himself from the team members who were solidly behind his decision to tour India? One should know of the reasons in a few months in his next biography.

The shock though was reserved for another statement.

The leader of one of the largest software companies in the country, one which had received the Golden Peacock award (for excellence in corporate governance) a few months back, was admitting to commiting a massive fraud on an ongoing basis for many quarters. A company that was started, built and nurtured by him was being taken down by the same man. A company of 53,000+ employees was left rudderless.

On January7th 2009, a captain, in physical pain, in batting for his 10 team mates ended up making a nation proud. On January 7th 2009, a captain, a leader of 53,000 people, pulled down a proud nation by a couple of notches. It was a good day, it was a bad day.

Posted by Rahul

9 thoughts on “Shock and Awe

  1. Awesome .. truely a day of shocks and awe

    Hats off GS..hope for a longer tenure next time KP and en’suing’ justice for Satyam employees


  2. Rahul, I was flabbergasted first by the Australian’s desire to play for pride – a concept acknowledged only by losers as per their sporting ethos – and next by their jubilation. I have never seen a team so keen to reinstall some self esteem through a close win in dead rubber over their rivals an important man short. It was then that it truly came home to me (plenty may have been written read, said and heard on this before) how far removed this team was from ay AB’s, Taylor’s or even Waugh’s team was.

    Smith has led well and is now the most established and veteran of captains.

    And as far as the third aspect is concerned, I’m no longer shocked – I may be offended and outraged for a while but not astounded like I used to be when younger – I do believe business isn’t possible without cutting corners and working in what Indians often call the “private sector culture” does lead to crunching up numbers.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more than one entity who have followed similar protocols to a lesser, larger, or matching extent.

    The day the govt begins to eat out of a businessman’s hand and gives up governance and responsibility to them, this is how things turn out. It is a fact echoed around the world…unregulated businessmen are like starving kids in an untended sweet shop.

  3. Soulberry,

    Smith’s innings assumed even bigger proportions because in India his opposite number, to save his own skin, bowled part time bowlers at a crucial juncture.

    As far as the business aspect is concerned, I wasn’t shocked to see some kind of accounting fraud being reported out of this country but the company which was at the forefront of the so called ‘corporate governance’ admitting it was a shocker. The stock market reaction to the hammering of specific stocks (which have always been under a cloud of suspicion) was telling.

    The piece was more about leaders and it was too important (Satyam i.e.) a related event happening on the same day.

    One hopes against hope for better systems and more accountability across businesses (and not only banks 🙂 ) to avoid such shocks


  4. As many suspect, I am more EQ-enabled than IQ-enabled where cricket is concerned. And it seems to me that this is the time for pseudoheroes to get exposed. KP of England, RP, MH et al of Australia, are just passing through. Their time is on the wane. Same goes for industry guys like Satyam, Jet Airways etc.

    The real heroes of any country are those that remain as pillars of the edifice, be it sport, concrete, finance or people, in lean times and troubled times.

    Sachin Tendulkar,Anil Kumble, Vishwanathan Anand,Ratan Tata, Narayanmurthy, and not to forget Tukaram Ombale. You’ll never catch yourself writing such a post about them.

  5. Suranga,

    I am sure one will not need to write a post like this about the abovementioned people.. The world will be a far darker place if such a need ever arises

  6. I’m in total agreement. You can’t compare people like KP and and RP to the legends of the game in the aforementioned post.

    Its not unusual for a team (any team) to be going through a bad patch with personnel, and with born leaders – it happens to every team. the question is, who is popping up to take their place, and fill the void left by the last great man in the team.

    In terms of England, i see we have Andrew Strauss as the new captain. a nice guy certainly. A popular guy, and a good batsman, for sure. But a captain? I don’t think so!

  7. BCM,

    Welcome to the site.. For England Strauss seems to be the only option as of now so they have to make do with him.. I agree that as a captain he may not set the hearts fluttering 🙂

  8. Thanks. I think the ECB have a problem with blooding young players. David Warner just played an absolutely breathtaking debut innings for Australia in the T20, and all credit to our selectors for picking him. Could you imagine the ECB having the guts to do the same?

    I actually think Strauss will do okay in the medium to long term – a bit of stability is never a bad thing, and he should certainly bring that. Time will tell i suppose…

  9. BCM,

    The selection policy of most cricket boards has had its share of critics (deservedly so).. As far Strauss the captain is concerned, his problem is that he is not an automatic selection in the ODI and T20 team. His selection has parallels with Kumble’s ascension to test captaincy and if he performs as well as Kumble, England will be more than happy..

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