Posts Tagged ‘Sourav Ganguly’

I am an Indian cricket fan too, like the rest of the one billion plus Indians in this country and the numerous others around the world. There was a time when I used to keep a ball-by-ball account of every match India played anywhere in the world; copiously reading up on cricket statistics; pouring over reports on the game from all over the world. As a kid I did not know my multiplication tables from my division, but could tell you Sunil Gavaskar’s batting average to the last decimal! I still lose my cool when I see an Indian wicket fall to a poor shot or a catch being dropped, or even cheer when the opposition drops a catch!

Right now I too have butterflies in my stomach thinking about what could happen tomorrow. Why? Because beating the Pakistanis is what every Indian desperately wants. But, I still treat cricket as a sport to be enjoyed and every match as just as a another match, and not WAR, unlike some of my countrymen, who believe that beating the Pakistanis is like shoving a bayonet into the enemy’s chest.

Some of the vicious comments I’ve been reading in the media and on social networking sites make me wonder whether we are a rational thinking people from a country steeped in the ‘Hindu culture’ or a bunch of psychopaths. Heck, I would be over the moon if India won the match against Pakistan and then the ICC World Cup. Please note I said ‘IF’ and not ‘WHEN’ because in a game with such high stakes and pressure, five overs or a couple of wickets either way, could decide the result.

After Brett Lee got hit on the eye I read some comment on Facebook that said “serves him right”. Serves him right, for what? Playing his heart out for his country? Give the man some credit. He has taken over 800 international wickets, which is a damn sight more than any of the Indian bowlers playing for their team. Our cricket fans should appreciate his bowling instead of denigrating it and should urge our bunch of second-rate (YES SECOND-RATE) medium pacers (with the exception of Zaheer Khan) to learn the art of pace bowling from the great Australian.

Criticising a player for his poor performance is one thing but to ridicule his efforts shows us up for unsportsmanlike behaviour. We (and I don’t mean the cricketers, but a section of the media and a large number of Indian cricket fans) are quick to call the Australians ‘cry babies’. But let’s not forget that until very recently it was the Indians who were always the cry babies. Instead of appreciating the way the Australians played their game and learning from them, we cried about being bullied out. Funnily, isn’t that what Sourav Ganguly did? He played the game the Aussie way and won; and he publicly acknowledged that Steve Waugh was his hero.

As a nation of sports enthusiasts we are poor losers and history is witness to that. Way back in 1974, after Ajit Wadekar’s boys had been thrashed by England 3-0 in a Test series, their homes were stoned and a stone replica of a cricket bat, with the signatures of the team captained by Wadekar that defeated the West Indies and England in 1971, was defaced. This is just one example. Indian skipper Dhoni has also commented that he has stopped caring about the reactions of the Indian cricket fans because by now they have even killed him in their minds, every time his team plays badly! It’s a sad reflection on us as a sports-loving people.

That is why I am APPALLED by the entire jingoistic and intolerant reaction of our cricket fans to our team and any opposition, especially the Pakistanis. A day before the big match, we sound like the same hysterical, frenzied mobs that would take out a knife and stab someone at the slightest provocation. I am surprised that some political party hasn’t yet taken out a procession.

Tomorrow, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for Team India. And I sincerely hope, for the sake of the billions who’ve been thumping their chest and dreaming of annihilation, that they don’t get the unexpected.


Not a contrived attempt? They acted maturely? Do the IPL bosses actually expect us to believe that? And when we have to listen to a dumb Bollywood starlet, who couldn’t act to save her film career, mouthing such idiocies, it does get galling. And the more she shoots her mouth off, the deeper the hole she and her compatriots dig themselves into. Hopefully, by the time the next edition comes around, they’ll bury themselves completely, and we’ll be rid of this bastardized form of a great game.
But since it’s still on, what’s the real reason for not picking the Pakistanis? Not good enough? Didn’t like their nationalities? Didn’t like their religion? Didn’t like their beards? Didn’t like their names? Or were they planning to attack India with…. cricket bats and balls?
If they didn’t want to select the Pakistanis, the IPL bosses shouldn’t even have picked them in the original list of players up for auction. And even after they did, if one or two had been bought and the rest ignored, it would have looked a natural auctioning process. But ignoring all eleven? I don’t blame the Pakistan press for calling us a bunch of bigots. In the US and Australia you have racism and in India you have bigotry in the worst form – caste, gender religion and colour – which decides where you’ll be studying, staying or working, or who you’ll be marrying. But let’s stick with the IPL for now we’ll leave the rest for another day.
What’s the cricketing logic in keeping Shahid Afridi out? He is one of the best and most exciting one-day players in the world. Strange, that no player from the best T20 team in the world finds a place in the IPL.
Jingoism be damned, but who wants to watch a bunch of retired, semi-retired and some unknown faces huffing and puffing through 20 overs? I would much rather watch the likes of Afridi, Umar Gul, and the Akmal brothers than some Roach, Bond, Ganguly, Kaif, or a club class cricketer like Yousuf Pathan. Didn’t Bond retire from international cricket because of persistent injury problems? How is he fit to play now?
IPL was launched supposedly to bring the best cricketing talent in the world under one umbrella and have them perform together in different teams. The first edition was exciting because one suddenly saw Ponting, Sourav and Shoaib Akhtar playing together and Shane Warne leading an ‘Indian’ team. Secondly, it also gave a lot of cricketers some form of financial security. While some of these reasons still coexist, the excitement has worn off. We all know what happened during the last IPL in South Africa.
The moral of the story is that even money power isn’t enough to go against some of the unwritten diktats made by governments. Either the Government is telling the truth that they have nothing to do with IPL or the IPL bosses have mastered the fine art of bending over. They can go blue in the face denying any ulterior motive for not picking the Pakistanis, but not too many people believe them. I feel sorry for the Pakistani players – caught in the middle of a political war of nerves, not of their doing.
What the IPL bosses had been doing these past few years was bad enough – screwing the great game of cricket by selling it to the highest bidder. Now they are playing politics over it too.

I first heard a ball-by-ball cricket commentary on my radio when the Australian team was playing in India in 1969. Their names fascinated me – Stackpole, Redpath, Chappell, Gleeson, Lawry, Mallett, Mckenzie. I guess that was the day I was hooked to cricket and more so to Australian cricket.

When everyone was blasting the Australian team of the 1970s and 80s, for their on-field and off-field antics under Ian Chappell and later under Greg Chappell, I marvelled at their determination to win at any cost. To me they were then and are still the most exciting cricket team in the world. Everybody else is yards behind.

I remember Ian Chappell and his bowlers being criticized for snarling at the English cricketers during the Ashes series in 1974-75 and the following year in England. Just before the 1974-75 Ashes series in Australia, Jeff Thomson was quoted as saying that he liked to see blood on the pitch and batsman writhing on the floor in pain. It was an outrageous comment by any standards, but it had the desired effect. The Englishmen were terrified of facing Thommo and by the time Test series started they were literally backing away from the pitch every time Thomson and Lillee ran in to bowl. They had to win, social niceties be damned.

The following year, members of the Australian team were seen on the balcony of the dressing room in a mock fight, stripping a player to the waist in full public view of the spectators. Ian Chappell was asked about his team’s behavior and his cryptic comment was “What happens off the field should stay off the field!” The Pommies were left fuming at the arrogance of the Australians, but the latter couldn’t have cared less.

I know I’m painting myself in a corner, but I’ve always admired the Australian cricket team for the manner in which they’ve played their cricket. So they are brash, foul-mouthed, cussed, but who cares? At the end of the day they show results and that’s what matters.

I was going through the Australian cricket team’s records on the other day and was marvelling at their consistency over the last 140-odd years. 713 Test matches played and 332 wins, that’s a 46.56 per cent win record, and a loss percentage of 26.08, which is fantastic. In one-day internationals Australia has played 726 matches, won 448 and lost 247 with a win percentage of 64.29.

Now look at India’s Test record: 430 Tests; 99 won with a win percentage of 23.02 and a loss percentage of 31.62.In one-day internationals, in which Indians are supposedly second to the Australians, the record is: Played: 727; Won: 351; Lost: 340, with a 50.79 win percentage. They’ve lost as many matches as they have won.

So when I hear this crap by some of my friends in the media about how India is just a step away from becoming No 1 in world cricket, it makes me laugh. They should ask themselves whether the Indian cricket team really deserves the title. Can India ever be as consistent as the Australians have been over a period of say ten years? From Don Bradman to Ricky Ponting, it has been the focus of every Australian captain to ensure that his team is the best in the world – come what may. It’s a lesson the Indian cricket team and its bosses could do well to learn if they want to EVER be called a great team.

Which Indian captain, with the exception of Sourav Ganguly for a brief while, has made an effort in that direction? It’s not a matter of winning all major tournaments in a year. It’s a matter of winning all major tournaments year after year, for the next ten years! If they can do that, Team India can be called ‘great’. With such a talented bunch of individuals in their midst it’s surprising that the Indians fail to click as a team, except on those rare occasions. And we make it worse by calling anyone or anything ‘great’. Then we expect them to live up to that epithet and crucify them when they fail.

Honestly, there is just one player in this team on whom the title of ‘great’ sits with ease and we all know who that is – the rest of them are all bad copies of the originals we have seen down the ages. As a matter of fact, I’ll stick my neck out to say that there are just a handful of players in the last 40 years who can be called ‘great’ – Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and Sourav Ganguly. That’s it. The others have a long way to go, before they can be placed alongside these five – if ever.

So when I heard our pea-brained experts saying on the idiot box before the series started that the injury-hit Australians would be easy meat against the in-form Indians, I was amazed. The Australians are NEVER easy meat and more so an Australian team that’s being written off. So it didn’t surprise me in the least when they rubbed the Indians’ noses to the ground. And mind you, on paper this Australian team is second-string. If this is what a second-string team can do, it speaks volumes for the class of the Indians.

The Australian media has rightly called the Indians ‘upstarts’. Frankly, with the exception of Sachin Tendulkar and to some extent Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the rest of them aren’t worth the big bucks they are paid. They are not great, they just grate.