Apart from the turbulence sparked by fringe players abandoning the BCCI, calm and stability prevails in Indian cricket. The team has won a rare victory overseas, a hefty cash bonus has been announced, critics are temporarily silenced and, importantly, senior players are back on centre-stage.
In this comeback, there is a delicious irony. When Dravid, the gracious victor, smiles into the cameras he speaks the language of a former coach (about processes/challenges and opportunities), and stresses the value of experience. This tribute is significant because Sourav led the batting surge and Zaheer was the standout bowler. Both of them, not long ago, were missing from the A-list.
But, while the veterans have bounced back spectacularly, time is running out for them. The Indian team is in transition, and within a year, half the side could change leaving big holes to be filled by new players.
India is not alone in this quest for fresh talent. Pakistan needs to launch a pension programme for the likes of Inzamam, Razzaq, Younis, Yousuf and, maybe, Shoaib. The West Indies is struggling to locate replacements for Lara, Sarwan and Chanderpaul. South Africa debates the future of Pollock and Kallis. Of all teams, only Australia has planned to fill the hole left by the departure of its superstars.
Not just teams, cricket itself is in transition as it changes tracks to take the Twenty20 route. This, partly, is in response to a social trend where time is scarce and attention spans short.
As a consequence, everything has to shrink, and a match is now no longer than the duration of a feature film. In making this change, cricket will drop some of its charming subtleties but give a more prominent position to youthful power and speed.
For India, there are other challenges as well, some of its own making (coach controversy, contract muddle) and others arising from factors largely out of its control. Much to the horror of official cricket, a rival cricket outfit has sprung up which poses a challenge to the BCCI’s long-held monopoly over the sport.
This threat could blow over, move away like a monsoon cloud that changed its mind and drifted away. Or, dangerously, it could explode wrecking damage and destruction. Past experience shows nothing works in a hurry in India, change is invariably gradual and non-violent. After an initial splash, so to say, water finds its level and calm returns.
It is difficult to speculate on how things will unfold, but till that happens celebrate and enjoy the skills of Dhoni, Karthik, Yuvraj and the resurgent Sourav.