Thursday, September 8, 2011

Defeat is an opportunity

There is a certain pleasure I am deriving from our cricket team’s thrashing in England. After a 4-0 whitewash in the test series and a loss in the only T20 rubber, we have now lost the second ODI (the first one was washed out). I am eagerly looking forward to a repeat of the test scoreline so that hardcore fans are given no opportunity to come out of their bomb shelters. You might think I am exaggerating, but I can swear upon my left thumb impression that it will take just one victory, especially if it comes in the last fixture, for the likes of Ravi Shastri to say “At least the Indians finished on a winning note”.

The series that started as ‘Battle of Britain’ has turned into Dhoni’s Waterloo. Battle weary Indians, not satisfied with the victory in World War 10, marched on to loot and plunder in the IPL, then went to subjugate the Pirates of the Caribbean, a spent force. After the sun soaked carnival in West Indies, England looked a hostile place, their players eager to halt the Indian juggernaut and stake their claim to the throne. For the English the long Natwest series was a ‘Not Waste’ opportunity at home turf, a chance to avenge previous massacres at the hands of spin wizards on Indian soil. Fatigue, fitness, form, foul play, freezing conditions and fast pitches are some of the F-words that are being employed by pundits to explain the fiasco in England. If only Freddie Flintoff had been a part of the team, the alliteration would have been richer.

The series also exposed that slavery is alive, and rewarding. Ravi Shastri, whose comments are as original as a page coming out of the photocopier, and Sunil Gavaskar, India’s last defence against white supremacists, proudly declared themselves to be lackeys of the Empire (BCCI). Their job, they explained, was to protect Indian interests, should there be any signs of resurgence of the old powers.

It may be too soon to start celebrating the temporary reversal in India’s cricketing fortunes and start focusing on other activities that qualify as sports elsewhere in the world. Our newly appointed Sports Minister is so deeply disturbed by the debacle in England that he wants to regulate the mighty Empire. India’s response to everything is regulation, which is easy as opposed to vision and planning, which is impossible. Mr. Sports Minister is oblivious to the fact that sports infrastructure built at enormous cost for the Commonwealth Games in his home city is rotting away, far from the reach of sports enthusiasts, or anyone for that matter. Of course, his audacious efforts are being thwarted by his tribesmen who have great stakes in the affair. For once regulation is a dirty word among politicians.

In what could be a ray of hope, Airtel has withdrawn as sponsor for the T20 Champions League on account of expected poor viewership. It is instead now the title sponsor for Formula One’s latest franchise, the Buddha Circuit in Delhi’s backyard Noida. Personally I prefer physical games and contact sports, not car racing, but the October edition of Formula One in India should be a welcome addition to India’s sports calendar which is woefully short of entries. I pray for some more sponsorship money coming the way of Chennai Open, India’s flagship tennis tournament. Indian business houses, many of whom are exceedingly rich can easily support hefty prize money for the tournament and lure higher ranked players. Unfortunately the ‘love of sports’ for most of them translates into buying IPL franchises. It is time to bury Indian cricket for some time and release the money bags and bandwidth for other sports. Defeat is an opportunity.

1 comment:

  1. How could you? You can't separate the have mentioned Gavasker and Shastri but where is Harsha Bhogle? These three together are responsible for 70% of the negative sentiments generated among non-Indian viewers for the Indian team.....the remaining 30% is due to players like Sreesanth, Harbhajan and Yuvraj :)) And I don't know what Indian sponsors should or could do for which sport but this bit I am sure about that Ganguly needs more 'opportunities' as a commentator.