I must admit to being embarrassingly biased about a lot of things, more so when it concerns my cricketing heroes. I grew up watching the likes of Pataudi, Gavaskar, Bedi, Srikanth, Kapil and later on Dravid, Ganguli, Laxman, Tendulkar etc., lording it over like mighty colossuses straddling various cricket fields. When someone like Dhoni or Yuvraj vie for space with these greats, I view it as a personal affront. As if to rub salt on my wounds, Nars in a recent India Special piece admonished our Dada of Calcutta for suggesting that the present cricket team may not be the best ever.
I want to yell at Nars and the millions of swooning fans of M.S Dhoni & Co., that this team is lucky to be facing opponents who are nowhere as menacing and bloodthirsty as those towering cricketing legends of earlier eras. That some of our cricketers of the past matched those legends and licked them at times, is stuff of cricketing folklore. I can conjure more arguments against these young pretenders, but the flow is interrupted by…..
Do I hear an incessantly chattering brat inside me, chastising me for those uncharitable words about Dhoni and his boys?
The brat is telling me unpalatable things like I am too dumb to see greatness in the present and can comprehend it only once it is history – in the comfort of hindsight. I retort that I write in India Special and therefore can’t be all that dumb, but the brat just shrugs and persists with its demand to give Dhony & Co., their due. Forced into a corner, I get ready to bat for Dhoni’s boys.
So, what is it that makes this team win nine games in a row and pummel opponents of all hues – the blacks, whites, browns and everything in between – very convincingly and at times very humiliatingly? They have even beaten the New Zealanders after 33 years.
Is it because Dhoni is so very positive and confident? Or, is it because he has got an enthusiastic bunch that does not have the burden of reputation or experience to defend? Then I think of our coach Gary Kirsten with his unobtrusive and understanding ways propelling the youngsters to higher levels of performance. May be the reason could even be Krishnamachari Srikanth, that cocky, confident chief selector who keeps infusing fresh blood and pushes the youngsters to play hard and hit the balls out of shape?
About two weeks back, Kevin Peterson attributed the phenomenal rise of Indian cricket to the emergence of T-20. He said Indian cricket went through the roof after T-20. It made every player realize that when it comes to the crunch, they could rise to the occasion and send the ball out of the stadium whether it is a T-20 or a one day game or a test match. Out of this shortest version of the game emerged the giants lying buried in most of the cricketers.T-20 was a huge paradigm shift in cricket.
Rahul Dravid has been my hero above everyone else. He gave everything to win and he never played for himself. I desperately wanted him to win as a captain and remain at the pinnacle of success. That did not unfortunately happen and his captaincy record is nothing to write home about. I ponder at the huge injustice done to this great sportsman and legend by God’s funny system of justice.
Then came Dhoni, with that careless swagger and don’t-care-attitude, captaining a bunch of upstart youngsters full of raw energy and enthusiasm. He seemed to be having great fun on the field along with the rest of the gang. He started winning games and imperceptibly his boys slithered into the winning habit.
I ponder at the contrasting ways of these two captains. Dravid was desperate to win and his visage on the field was one of anxiety, determination and intensity. Dhoni on the other hand is as cool as a cucumber and his demeanor betrays not a trace of fear. He is full of the joie-de-vivre and excitement of life. He seems to be just playing a game. I marvel at the profound wisdom ingrained in the words of my teacher
When you are desperate about something, it will almost certainly be delayed though not denied.
Why write about cricket and games, when I am faced with the reality of running a business through chaotic times? The economic melt down has caused a bloodbath in my company and am bruised all over from the cuts and thrusts of maneuvering through these rocky terrains.
I realize the old world order is giving way to a new, uncertain reality and the rules of the game have changed. I have to find the resources within to play a T-20 game and thrive in these times of turmoil. And I have to learn to play hard and find the giant within. There are some parts of the game which are not in my hands. At times I may be bowled or caught and may have to take the lonely trudge back to the pavilion. But I will play the game joyfully with carefree abandon and will return to play many more innings. I am playing to win!
Image Credit: Vighi
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- A Year of Glory and Pride for India in Cricket, 2008 – Part II