Grow up, face up, wake up! | india | Hindustan Times
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Grow up, face up, wake up!

First and foremost, a Happy New Year to all of you. I hope this will be the big year for Indian cricket lovers and the team wins the World Cup.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2003 02:10 IST

First and foremost, a Happy New Year to all of you. I hope this will be the big year for Indian cricket lovers and the team wins the World Cup.

Right now though, it does appear that it’s going to be tough. The way Indian batsmen have struggled whenever confronted with some movement and bounce doesn’t augur well for the campaign in South Africa. But then, how many expected India to win the Cup in 1983?

The Kiwi tour has at least reduced the expectations of fans, who, after the victory over England in June and the subsequent triumph in the Champions Trophy, thought that all the Indians had to do to win the World Cup was make an appearance on the field.

The New Zealand tour has brought back a sense of reality to Indian cricket, which was beginning to delve into the realms of fantasy. The World Cup draw puts India in a tough group and they cannot afford to relax against any team.

Right now, of course, their main aim is to salvage some pride from the Kiwi tour, for the wickets aren’t likely to improve. Despite India’s win in the last game, the Kiwis know their best chance is to leave a bit of grass on the pitch and confound the Indians.

Though the pitches in New Zealand have been bowler-friendly and not easy to bat on, the efforts put in to combat them have been quite lacklustre.

In fact, some batsmen have taken the easy route out by throwing away their wickets so that they do not get injured.

This has been disappointing to say the least, for these are highly paid athletes,who should be prepared to take a few blows and give their utmost for the country.

Look at our army and police personnel. They take so many risks and are hardly ever appreciated and get just a fraction of the big sums these players are getting.

So one expects to see a readiness to face injuries and take a few blows.

But obviously, from their point of view, the thought process is that if they get injured then they will be out of the team. So it makes more sense to them to fail by not trying hard enough, since they know that past performances are going to keep them in the side anyway.

One performance keeps a player in the team for more than a dozen matches without performing. Then a weak team comes along and the player scores and everybody says, “See we told you he was talented.”

But it’s not the same in New Zealand cricket. So Scott Styris, who made a century on debut, still finds himself out of the team since he is not in form. And remember he made that century only a few months ago.

Have a look at the Indian team and see how many players are playing without a substantial contribution for long and you will see the difference.

There’s no point in saying there’s no bench-strength if those bench players are never given an opportunity. Or when the odd player is given the chance, he should at least get half the number of chances that others are getting and not be thrown out after just one or two games.

It really is sad to see the Indian players all padded up and protected with helmets, arm guards, chest guards and still not having enough courage to get behind the line of the ball.

Another curious aspect of Indian cricket is that only the current players or those former players, who are visible in the media, are remembered. So when a former giant like CS Nayudu passes away, there is hardly a ripple. When Lala Amarnath passed away, there was nobody from the Delhi & District Cricket Association to attend his funeral. In New Zealand, it’s good to see how former stars are remembered.

A few days ago, one of the icons of New Zealand rugby passed away and it made the lead in the newspapers, although he had stopped playing in 1954 and had been living in South Africa for the last 25 years.

Even now, newspapers here carry something or the other about him and his family.

One gives the example of rugby because it’s as big a sport here as cricket is in India, though rugby fans here are not as fanatical as they are in India. Nobody tries to get photos and TV pictures here.

Well, hopefully, India’s players will learn from this tour and give their fans a great deal of joy by winning the World Cup in March.