For two days, we had nothing better to do. Our very own “invincible” Team India and its millions of fans were waiting anxiously for Bermuda to perform a miracle against Bangladesh to take us to the Super 8.
This agonising wait will certainly go down in history as one of the classical ironies of Indian cricket.
As an aftermath of the early exit, no amount of logical explanation given by the team or even their honest admittance of failure will be able to impress anyone in this cricket-mad nation. Team skipper Rahul Dravid and more so Greg Chappell, a coach partial to rhetoric, will have to undergo severe soul-searching before they make any further statements on the team or its performance.
From a cricketing point of view, Indian cricket has hit a new low and will surely now have to ask itself some difficult questions. The very fact that we had a team that left India as among the favourites and were promptly put on a flight back home even before the tournament could gain momentum, is a bit too much to digest.
The team management might find suitable philosophical interpretations about this early exit. “That's the way this game is played” and “the best teams have bitten the dust or the greatest of players have failed the conquest of time”. But deep down, are Greg and Rahul ready to see and accept a real picture of Indian cricket these past two years? For the team, the coming time will be quite testing.
At the same time, the reactions back home are simply unimaginable. Similar outbursts were witnessed in the initial stages of the 2003 World Cup. But this time, the level of sentiment expressed and the venting of frustration from all corners of society assumed dangerous proportions. With such a high emotional and passionate attachment to the game, the fans of Indian cricket surely deserve to get something back. And I for one, while empathising with their utter disappointment, have to also condemn the extreme reactions that we have witnessed in the last few days.
What is really disturbing to me is the growing trend of violent protests after every defeat. It poses serious security threats to the players and their families.
The practice of burning effigies of the players on the streets and pelting stones at their houses has become a kind of neo-ritual in the wake of every defeat. To rub more salt into their wounds, these unruly incidents were religiously telecast and printed in various channels and newspapers.
These unhealthy news items become potentially contagious when watched by millions of disenchanted fans throughout the country. Spare a thought for those thousands of aspiring cricketers at all levels, who want to represent India in the future.
I wonder what kind of impression these acts would leave on young, impressionable minds.
If such heinous acts of expressing disappointment are allowed to continue without being checked with proper laws in place, I am sure that there will be a day when a player or a player's family member will suffer something unthinkable. And by then, it will be far too late for regrets.