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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Kane Williamson’s humility a lesson for Indian cricket

Lessons for India also contained , oddly, in a comment from Ravi Shastri hailing Kane Williamson for carrying himself with ‘dignity and grace’ during the controversy surrounding England’s dodgy victory.

cricket Updated: Jul 19, 2019 12:35 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Hindustan Times, Delhi
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (R) greets India's captain Virat Kohli after the 2019 Cricket World Cup first semi-final between New Zealand and India at Old Trafford.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (R) greets India's captain Virat Kohli after the 2019 Cricket World Cup first semi-final between New Zealand and India at Old Trafford.(AFP)
         

The World Cup is done, the winner announced, presentations made. Eoin Morgan was at 10, Downing Street to celebrate the win and New Zealand are struggling to come to terms with an unfair loss. But what about India’s World Cup, the cricket blockbuster meant to storm the box office that tanked?Are there lessons for Indian cricket and their players/officials from the tournament?

Yes, and on technical matters the gurus have already pronounced. They agree the selectors made a series of debatable choices and team selection was ‘baffling’, particularly with Ambati Rayudu being rejected and Mayank Agarwal suddenly pulled out of a hat. MS Dhoni’s batting position is a mystery yet unsolved and the ultimate distressing reality : in the Indian batting lineup ,the middle is the end.

The World Cup has thrown up significant takeaways apart from what is strictly technical/on field. New Zealand have brought attention through the remarkable conduct of their captain on how cricket ought to be played and governed. Lessons for India are also contained , oddly, in a comment from Ravi Shastri hailing Kane Williamson for carrying himself with ‘dignity and grace’ during the controversy surrounding England’s dodgy victory.

Despite the no ball that denied him cricketing history, the Kiwi skipper didn’t play the martyr and spoke not one word out of bitterness. Now imagine the tsunami that would have erupted had India been at the receiving end of a similar result. Seen as a conspiracy against India,there would be national outrage with furious hardliners calling for decisive action to redeem honour. In this charged atmosphere, cricket nukes would be launched and surgical strikes ordered, ICC threatened with a pull-out and demands for dismissing umpires.

READ | Virender Sehwag has his say on MS Dhoni retirement rumours

It is interesting that Shastri lauds grace and dignity, two elements central to sport but not the calling card of Virat’s team. Should we then, going forward, expect the Indian team to embrace these qualities ?

It is possible to show intent on the field and avoid ugly sendoffs for dismissed batsmen.Also, how difficult can it be to celebrate a hundred without mouthing abuses?

During the World Cup,Virat’s support for Steve Smith — one pro standing up for another — was admirable. Equally praiseworthy was the gesture towards Charulata Patel, the 87-year-old cricket fan and Rohit Sharma’s sincere post-tournament tweet expressing disappointment for not meeting the expectations of Indian fans.

In the eyes of some,however,cricket stars live in an entitled bubble and believe this to be their right. It is necessary for them to understand that cricket that makes them what they are , and it is the affection of fans that grants them privileges and perks of stardom. Those making silly statements on television chat shows must remember Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid (among others) known for humility and good behaviour. Head high, feet on the ground. High performance,low ego.

The BCCI also needs to show maturity and focus on the core without being distracted by the peripheral and the unrelated.Was there a need to go to town asking for Pakistan’s ban ? Or the ridiculous posturing over MSD’s keeping gloves ? Or the noise over a banner flapping momentarily in the overcast Manchester sky? A petulant BCCI ( whether driven by personal agendas or other compulsions ) which is forever angry or unhappy harms Indian cricket’s global standing.

Indian fans and must also strike a balance between supporting cricket and cricketers, and looking at sport in the proper perspective.

READ | Dust settles on ICC World Cup, time ripe for course correction in Indian cricket

Cricket stars are exceptionally talented athletes with outstanding skills but to first put them on a pedestal as Gods/legends/icons and then judging them against high standards is unfair. Better to tone down the affection and be reasonable.

Kane Williamson has shown the mirror to the cricket world, and the underlying message is cricket deserves respect . It is not merely about runs/wickets but about how you play and how you carry yourself while playing. Showing a finger to the opponent could be fashionable but it can only be a temporary fad like tattoos and distressed jeans. Just as class is permanent in cricket, good manners and decent behaviour is for all times to come.

Kane Williamson may have lost (or was made to lose) the World Cup but the Kiwi captain is a winner by a landslide.

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 08:28 IST

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