They hadn’t won a World Cup since 1979. Their fans had lost all their hope in the team as it got battered and bruised for years on end. They had mercurial players on and off but the consistency was missing. People and players so tired of losing constantly in cricket had started moving to much more rewarding sports like athletics and football. There were constant problems between the players and the board on matters of any kind from payments to performances. But then, the unthinkable happened.
“Hey! All of them are taking part in this event. How can you expect me to miss it?”
“Look at those guys in the software industry. Even though there are too many of them, they are enjoying their lives. I also want to join it. That would at least assure me of a guaranteed job and income. Once I join, I can keep searching for a better job, what say?”
“If all those guys can get a girl, why can’t I? Is there something which they have and I don’t?”
“These days, guys around us are developing six packs left, right and center. Look at us. We are good for nothing”
PS: This post deals with examples related to the effects of joining the bandwagon in our daily lives. It doesn’t deal with joining national or the Indian independent movements and examples of that kind.
I am sure there are many of us who must have come up with at least one of the above statements at some point in time. Is it really necessary that we must do the same what everyone has done for years? What is so special about joining the bandwagon? Is it a fad? Does it really give us a high when we just do the same thing what millions do? Lets check it out.
Will you open the innings? Yes. Will you keep wickets in order to accommodate an extra batsman? Yes. Will you captain the team? Yes. This was Rahul Dravid for you. A selfless team man for whom the team’s goals and ambitions came way before his own.
Most call him ‘The Wall’. While some call him ‘Mr. Dependable’. But for me he was the one reason stroke makers like Sachin, Sehwag, Dada etc. could flourish. They could play freely knowing that at the other end, ‘The Wall’ was being constructed brick by brick to stay for as long as one could imagine. This was the wall who scored a 12 hour 270* at Rawalpindi. He was the reason we knew that despite the first wicket falling for a low score, we wouldn’t collapse. He was one of the reasons we had belief in saving and even winning overseas tests. He was one of the reasons we learnt to win overseas. Dravid has been part of 15 test wins abroad and in 11 of them he has been awarded the Man of the Match.
There were many who said he can’t play One Day International (ODI) cricket.
There were many who said he can’t play the shots expected of a batsman in the 50 over game.
There were also others who said that playing in the 50 over game may bring some needless shots to his repertoire which may spoil his class for Test cricket.
But 344 matches, 196 catches, 10889 runs @ an average of 39, 12 centuries and 83 half centuries later as Rahul Sharad Dravid retires, you wonder if this was the man who had struggled in his initial days in ODI cricket. Between 1996-99 he had become used to sitting in and out of the team. Those were the years when all his doubters had their tails up constantly asking questions about his strike rate, ability to rotate the strike and what not.
People said he couldn’t translate his domestic form to international success. People said that he can’t play the short ball. People said that he doesn’t have the temperament for the big stage. Others said he is a player who can hit only local tracks and that’s the reason he has been selected for the Cricket World Cup 2011. Many even said that he can play well only in the IPL. But with two violent centuries in the past 2 months along with a couple of 50s has all but sealed his place in the World Cup team and shut the mouths of his detractors for some time to come. The two centuries couldn’t be more different.
Indian sports has long been dominated by cricket all the time. Though it was an important factor in considering India’s performance in sports this year, it wasn’t the only sport where we excelled. Saina Nehwal at badminton, India’s performance at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games and also some good stuff from the hockey team ensured one of the best years for Indian sports in a long time.
Saina Nehwal is not very muscular. Neither does she have the backing of any godfather. Nor has she won tournaments by fluke. This 20 yr old sensation has made such giant strides this year in a sport which the Chinese have traditionally excelled in that even the Chinese seem shocked seeing her. With her sharp returns, excellent focus and concentration and nimble – footed movements on court, she has thrashed opponents left, right and center reaching the number 2 ranking.
Have you ever heard of Ashish Kumar, Krishna Poonia, Virdhawal Khade? These were some of the relatively unknown faces who made us proud by winning medals in sports as diverse as athletics, wrestling, boxing, swimming, gymnastics to name a few. The first reaction to this was “I didn’t know we had gymnasts, let alone take part in the Commonwealth Games!” Meanwhile our archers, shooters and wrestlers had a year to remember winning medals across the Asian and Commonwealth Games along with winning medals at other championships. The fact that we managed to come 2nd on the CWG medals tally and achieve our best performance at the Asian Games was something none of us must’ve even imagined. The most interesting part of the whole event was that half of the medallists were from Haryana – a state which has given special importance to promoting sports from the grassroots level. A Lakshmi Mittal supported Champions Trust has also been set up to support and nurture the best athletes of the country.
Somdev Varman came into his own by winning us the Davis Cup clash with Brazil and also winning medals at the CWG and Asian Games. A tennis star and that too in singles seemed to have risen from nowhere!
The Indian Hockey Team jointly won the Azlan Shah Cup as well as came 3rd in the Commonwealth Games. The fact that this was achieved when the public expectations were low after their 8th place finish in the WC held in India was a miracle in itself. Though one should give credit to them where its due. During the matches against Pakistan throughout the year as well as against England in CWG, India played some of the most fantastic hockey seen in a long time supported by a partisan crowd at the Dhyan Chand stadium in Delhi.
There were also other achievers like Mary Kom – The boxing queen of the world who won her 5th consecutive boxing championship. As in her words “She was born to do only one thing – BOXING!”
Obviously a lot more can be done to improve sports and the infrastructure at the basic level. But Haryana has shown the way to the other states. Will they follow? Do we care about the other sports even now after the Asian Games and CWG have ended? These are some of the basic questions which need to be answered!
Before you guys kill me! Obviously an important development was India’s no 1 test ranking in cricket which prompted our BCCI to schedule more test matches than what India normally plays. Dhoni equalled Azhar’s record of India’s 2nd most successful captain.
The “Indian Express” – Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi coming together for the Australian Open 2011! Now can there be anything better than this?
Chennai Super Kings are the franchise team from Chennai owned by India Cements for US $91 million for a period of ten years from 2008. They are captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coached by Stephen Fleming (though this may change during the players re-auction this year). They are regarded as the most consistent IPL team and why not. Don’t the statistics (From wikipedia) below speak for themselves?
2008 Indian Premier League
* Runners-Up Of The Tournament
* Fair Play Awards Winner
* Highest Total Of The Tournament(240/5)
* 2008 CLT20 participant
* Most Expensive Player Of The Tournament(Ms Dhoni)
* 2nd Tournament Centurion(Michael Hussey)
* 1st Tournament hat-trick(Lakshmipaty Balaji)
* 3rd Tournament hat-trick(Makhaya Ntini)
2009 Indian Premier League
* Semi-finalists Of The Tournament
* Most Expensive Player Of The Tournament(Andrew Flintoff)
* Orange Cap Player Of The Tournament(Matthew Hayden)
2010 Indian Premier League
* CHAMPIONS of the tournament
* Fair Play Awards Winner
* Highest Total Of The Tournament(246/5)
* 2010 CLT20 participant & finalists
* 3rd Tournament Centurion(Murali Vijay)
* IPL AWARDS:Best Fielder(Suresh Raina)
* IPL AWARDS:Most Economical Bowler(Ravichndran Ashwin)
2010 Champions Trophy
* CHAMPIONS of the tournament
* Golden Bat: Murali Vijay
* Golden Bowl: Ravichandran Ashwin
Ok for those people who say statistics don’t matter, the simple fact is that Chennai has been by far the most consistent IPL team till date. Yes, their team comprising Hayden, Vijay, Hussey, Badrinath, Raina, Dhoni, Srikkanth Anirudha, Flintoff, Dougie Bollinger, Muralitharan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Balaji, Kemp, Joginder Sharma, Thilan Thushara, George Bailey, Albie Morkel, Manpreet Gony, Jacob Oram, Sudeep Tyagi, Shadab Jakati, Thissara Perera, Makhaya Ntini (Some who have played always and others who have played a couple of times) may not be that good as others, but it still is a very potent line – up.
Who says only foreigners are the heart and soul of an IPL team? Vijay’s swashbuckling batting, Ashwin’s carrom ball, Raina’s batting form, MSD’s captaincy, Balaji’s accuracy, Jakati’s wicket taking ability especially in IPL 2 are some of the standout Indian performers. Chennai’s bowling was struggling in IPL 3. But as soon as Bollinger came back, he started destroying the opponents with his fantastic bowling.
Many have said that this is all because MSD’s luck is very good. Many have pointed out about CSK’s inconsistency in IPLs though they still managed to reach semifinals of all. Many have questioned MSD’s decision of making Ashwin bowl the final over against Victoria. And there are also a large number who have questioned MSD’s ability to bat at the death. But then critics won’t be critics if they question right? If they see and start analysing statistics, then they surely won’t be called critics?
Many a time, against Kings XI Punjab at Dharamshala in IPL 3 when CSK was battling for survival, against Mumbai Indians in the finals of IPL 3 when Pollard went on a rampage, against Warriors in the final of the Champions League T20 when Davey Jacobs was on fire, CSK has been in the dumps, but they have always had the knack of coming back from such situations. Some may call it luck while others may say it was their determination to win which made that happen. That’s what champion sides are made up of, isn’t it? Even Ashwin showed what he’s made of after coming back from his 23 run super over thrashing against Victoria to down Warriors and send out Victoria from the Champions League.
CSK have shown everyone that an IPL team also has it in them to win the Champions League. And NO, they aren’t a team of mercenaries! Its time to celebrate their position as the best club team in the world!
CSK KO WHISTLE PODU!!!
PS – Though the team will change this year, their legacy will always live despite the fact whoever criticises Dhoni or any other players for their exploits for CSK or for India for that matter!
Cricket is a game which was “invented” if you may call it by the English. But today more than the English playing it, it has become a game of Asians, by Asians and for Asians. India has become the center of this game not because of the way the Indians play, but because of the financial muscle they have. If one were to believe the “romantic” view of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Cricket as a sport is played in more than 100 countries including Germany, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. It has three sets of recognition affliate, associate and full member. Only 12 nations are full members. That speaks of where we stand today in terms of numbers. To top it all, at least 50% of the players in the associate and affliate nations are of Asian origin? So is cricket really as popular as we think?
India is by far the most watched team in the world today. They play more than 50 One Day Internationals (ODI) every year. Over that add about 10-15 test matches and not to forget around 10 T20 games. Over that there is a 50 over World Cup every four years, a T20 World Cup every two years and also a Champions Trophy (50 overs) very frequently. Then add the Ranji trophy games, Champions League and the biggest of them all – The Indian Premier League (IPL). IPL is by far the biggest cricket tournament in the world attracting hundreds of players from different countries just because of one thing – MONEY! Does one really watch so much cricket? Isnt so much cricket crazy? Ok as an Indian yes probably. But to be truthful other than the so called purists, most of us including me are bored of the 50 over game as well as tests. Whether it spoils the game or players no one cares. Everyone today wants to watch just T20.
How many people watched the recent Asia Cup, Micromax Cup (featuring Lanka, India and Zimbabwe) or are watching South Africa play against West Indies? I am sure the number will be in just about hundred or so other than probably the finals or the India vs Pakistan match. The crux of the problem is too much cricket. The people who run the game havent played the game at all. They think if the public loves one game, give it more and more to them. That’s a really sad philospohy to live on.
But the silver lining is the Eng vs Aussie ODI series being held currently. So the problem is not exactly too much cricket. The problem is actually having meaningless matches just to get TV audiences and sponsors and in turn more and more money.
There have been many solutions suggested about using coloured balls in Tests, having two innings of 25 overs or such. Unless something is done fast, the number of people keen in cricket will go down more and more. Probably not us Indians, but surely others.
Then we also wouldnt get the opportunity of saying that Cricket is the world’s 2nd most watched sport.
From the dirty and troubled refugee camps with the dangers of ones life being always on the danger, in a country where Taliban is very well alive and kicking and ready to execute anyone who doesn’t obey their orders, for people who are struggling in utmost poverty and are not able to eat 3 meals a day, Afghanistan cricket’s mind – boggling rise to the pinnacle of world cricket, the International Twenty20 World Cup in West Indies to compete with 12 other test playing nations (except Ireland) is spectacular to say the least.
Afghanistanis don’t play their home games in their own country even today despite the fact that they have a cricket ground built near the soccer stadium in Kabul (the soccer stadium is normally used by Taliban to execute people) due to the situation in the country. Almost all their cricketers have practiced their skill in refugee camps in Pakistan especially Peshawar after their families ran away from their homeland due to the war like situation.
Afghanistan cricket was recognized by the International Cricket Association just 9 yrs ago in 2001. An interesting irony is that this was the year when the US “so called” War on Terror started their. It destroyed the remaining whatever infrastructure they had. In 2008 they were playing in World Cricket League Division 5 against countries like Germany, Vanuatu and Norway (ok guys these countries play cricket too! ). So you can imagine where they were in 2008. But in the space of less than two years they have got ODI status, just missed qualification for the 50 over World Cup in 2011 by a whisker and won the Twenty20 World Cup qualifying tournament in UAE. Isn’t this a mind – numbing achievement?
Hamid Hassan, one of their leading fast bowlers has famously compared their team to boxing underdog Rocky Balboa. Afghan cricketers today earn 300 dollars a month, a far cry from Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose earning in millions. But their desire and determination to be successful against all odds has taken them to this level and am sure will take them further. Their coach Kabir Khan reminds me of Sharukh Khan and his team of a bunch of no hopers in the film Chak De India who go on to win the World Cup.
Even if Afghanistan fail to win a single match in the World Cup, they deserve to bask in the laurels of reaching this level itself against all odds. You guys rock!
Karbonn Kamaal Catch, DLF Maximum, Citi Moment of Success – you may really wonder whether I am talking of cricket or advertising for Karbonn Mobiles, DLF or Citigroup but that’s the state of affairs of cricket in this country especially IPL – The Tamasha of Commercialisation of Cricket! After every six, catch, four or any good piece of cricketing skills, one keeps hearing the commentators saying – for eg: “And thats a Karbonn Kamal Catch!!”. Give us a break guys! We know you are paid for saying this and we know its crass commercialisation but the least we wanna hear is a catch being called Karbonn Kamal..God!
An MRF emblem or symbol which is there at every ground is shown every few minutes and the commentators keep blabbering something or the other such as some players being brand ambassadors or it being the academy for cricket in the country blah blah…Common guys! At least 90% if not 100% watching the game knows what MRF stands for and its whole story. The least you can do is keep quiet when it is shown and talk more about the cricket going on, on the ground rather than such crap. Then there are the so called “strategic time-outs” which are 2.5 half minute breaks to include as many ads as possible. Do teams really need these timeouts? I am sure the captains can give the best answer. Many times at these strategic timeouts, one or the other team is almost in complete disarray. The only strategy which they can have then is how fast to win or how fast to avoid losing.
The worst of all is incorporating advertisements in between balls! Yes guys you heard it right! Be it INQ from Aircel, Maxx Mobile, Blackberry etc, Mr Lalit Modi has become probably the first guy to incorporate ads in between the match! OMG!!!! Isn’t that the limit?
Then there are the IPL parties, best catch taken by a person who would get a Karbonn Phone and 25,000 bucks and what more. My point is making money, building partnerships, signing deals and things like these are fine. But why spoil the game? I am sure people will say why am I watching the game. But guys wouldn’t you agree that such things are making the cricket purely for money? Even in world cricket such things don’t happen.