In Defeat we vilify our heroes, in victory we make them gods. There is no balance, no reality check, no proper assessment of our strengths and weaknesses.
Immediately after India's swift, stunning and embarrassing exit from the World Cup, our cricketers were literally being hounded like criminals, not just by the sensation-mongering media (electronic much more than print) but even by Board officials. Suddenly all the money being earned by them was seen as the root cause of all evil.
It was hard to judge who was the bigger enemy of the state — Tendulkar or Ganguly. Tendulkar was seen as someone whose captaincy ambitions had polluted his senses so much that he was keen to stab Dravid in the back. And poor old Ganguly. Even when he was scoring runs, reasons were being found to establish that his cussed selfishness had and was still destabilising the team. Yuvraj was declared a proclaimed offender who had no redemption.
Now, it appears, that all that has changed. Tendulkar is back as our greatest hero, one who can do no wrong. Each of his 15,000 runs, a beholden nation should weigh in gold. All of a sudden, we are rediscovering in Ganguly the fighting qualities that made him an outstanding leader of men. Yuvraj is back in favour and the toast of the nation.
All this will change if India have a bad English summer; not a remote possibility given the conditions and the strengths of the two teams. If that happens, we will be baying for a Tendulkar or a Ganguly’s blood for having let down the nation and scores of corporates who invested in these players for the love of India!
What a happy television picture an impeccably dressed Board secretary Niranjan Shah made while exchanging pleasantries with Harish Thawani, the man whose company, Nimbus, beams matches live into our drawing rooms. He was also the man who came to the BCCI’s rescue at the last minute by taking responsibility for the live telecast of the Belfast series. So what if could only see those pictures on Doordarshan, because of whose policies the Board and Thawani are losing a lot of revenue.
These two are great patriots and what is the sacrifice of a few crore when what is at stake is the prestige of India and the Men in Blue (if you think blue means the sky or the sea, you are doing a great injustice to Pepsi). The Indian team, in the absence of crowds, needless to write, must have been inspired on Sunday by the presence of these two at the ground. No wonder they won!
And yes, there was another Board stalwart spotted by the TV cameras: Mr IS Bindra, who is known as the man who first raked in the moolah for Indian cricket with Jagmohan Dalmiya, but is now the forgotten man of Indian officialdom. Bindra now wants to be better known as the man who got in even more money for the Board before Dalmiya was anywhere in sight.
Oh, how one sorely missed another of those money-making wizards for the Board, Lalit Modi. Perhaps we are being unfair to him. It is possible that the TV camera somehow failed to spot him. Even if he was not there, his blessings must have been with the players.
And then, of course the patriarch of the Board, Mr Sharad Pawar himself. Was he there in Belfast? He must have been in England, preparing for his term as the ICC president. What an honour it is for us! I wonder what we should celebrate more. Pawar becoming the ICC president in 2010, Tendulkar making 15,000 ODI runs or India winning a series against South Africa away from home for the first time?