There are two ways in which one can look at the 0-4 loss of India in England: one, that England was a far better cricketing team in every department of the game and deserved drubbing Dhoni’s drummerboys; two, that the Indian team displayed fantastically bad cricket somehow perhaps believing that reputation is the key to winning matches. No, we won’t go down the route of bemoaning the level of fitness in the Indian team. And the excuse of RP Singh being plucked from the reserve bench all of a sudden and without the requisite training may cut ice in the Delhi Gymkhana Club where folks talk about cricket basically to avoid exchanging notes about their old, knobbly knees.
When Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international century, awaited back home by the media like a 30-year-old still waiting to pop his cherry, becomes an occasion more important than saving matches, we can understand how, as Arundhati Roy forgot to mention, the Anna Hazare agitation made us forget about the real important things in life. The shove from the top Test spot by a top-notch side without overt stars but with a solid team isn’t the real cause for humiliation. What is profoundly embarrassing — and cricket if not taken profoundly is really, as an ignorant Yank once said, baseball on valium — is the speed and the ease with which Dhoni and Co crumbled.
To take succour in the perception that England trounced India because of injuries in the visiting team and/or a lack of will is laughable. A team of 11 is a world-class bunch if they put up a strong fight against an excellent team. With the drubbing, we now see Team India for what it is: a bunch of grapes. We’ll see how serious our motley crew of ligaments, elbows, thighs and joints and floundering wills are about getting up from the mat to play. As for England, congratulations! And do pass the dregs of the bubbly if something’s left.