Indian captain MS Dhoni reacts after losing to England in the third Test match at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham.
It is almost ludicrous to watch and read the lamentations of those very people who before this series began were singing paeans to the health and wealth of Indian cricket, to now shed tears for the demise of a champion team.
Those of us who are now propagating a ten-point programme, like the government's poverty alleviation plan, to resurrect Indian cricket from the disturbing depths it has fallen into, should remember that this is the very team which took us to the pinnacle of Test cricket.
This Indian team, lest most of us may have forgotten, is also one-day cricket's World Cup champions, that the youth of this country feel is the greatest achievement in post-independence India, if a survey in a newspaper is to be believed.
Sudden fall Not getting into a debate on what kind of priorities the urban young have that puts a sporting achievement ahead of anything else, the moot point is how come a strong team has all of a sudden become so bad?
For people who suffer from deliberate amnesia, a reminder that MS Dhoni had even before the World Cup began, feared that their campaign could get derailed due to exhaustion and fatigue because of playing too much. Mercifully, that did not happen, though in the course of the tournament, most of the team members had suffered injuries which needed rest so that they could recover in time for another round of non-stop cricket.
And it is here that our woes began. IPL per se cannot be the cause of this disaster, but it's scheduling at a time when the entire Indian team needed rest most certainly is. Can anyone in an objective frame of mind disagree that the Dhonis, the Tendulkars, the Sehwags and the Gambhirs of the team should have used this opportunity to recuperate instead of further damaging their bruised bodies and jaded minds. The lure of money and the backing of the Indian Board -- who could have, if they wanted, forced them to skip the tournament - proved a greater incentive than commitment to their craft and the country.
The sad part is that powerful voices (former players and even the media) chose to ignore the disastrous impact this could have on India's immediate future. The lure of money and profits obviously overrides any genuine concern anyone has, especially for Test cricket in the country.
This conflict of interest, which begins with the Board secretary himself, has now become a widespread virus. Even for those who have retired from the game and are not contracted with the Board, there is a lot of money to be made by becoming part of the community that broadcasts live or peddles expert opinions on TV or the print media for the two-month carnival. Can we survive as a robust, vibrant and strong cricketing nation (or as a nation itself) if the opinions we get are all sponsored?