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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

India is cricket's third world

Indian cricket is financially powerful but otherwise powerless, obscenely rich but depressingly poor, writes Amrit Mathur.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2007 03:25 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur

We are used to cricket defeats but the latest loss confirms we are not just an ordinary team but losers in a broader sense. The World Cup has demonstrated that India is the Third World of cricket.

Forget the nonsense about paisa and passion, rupees and religion. Ignore the halla about the crores players earn and the multiple zeroes in the BCCI bank account. Don't be swayed by the hoo-ha India cola campaigns, the support shown by politicians for the team, the pre-departure dinner hosted by SRK, the sarpadosh pujas, the good luck messages of fans, the frenetic corporate promotions in the media, the Dhoni haircuts.

Away from this glittering duniya exists a vastly different world. A quick reality check of cricket shows India is not the best team in the world; it is way behind the others. Our situation is that of a player at Wimbledon who is missing from the second week draw, a golfer who does not make the cut after the halfway stage, a 1500m runner one lap behind the leader.

Indian cricket is a landline while the rest of the world has gone wireless; it is still trapped in the Chitrahaar/Krishi Darshan days of DD when other channels have progressed to Saas Bahu soaps. It is as removed from contemporary trends in sport as polyester is to men's clothing and black and white cinema to today's multiplex requirements.

This huge disconnect is visible in the way we field. Players slide and sprint but the movements are stately not sprightly — some resemble a sluggish lorry on a highway populated by slick machines.

Fielding is a major issue and the team's lack of purpose, intensity, energy and enthusiasm — compared to others — is extremely glaring.

Where is the aag, the bijli that every other international team has in abundance?

There is also the matter of attitude. Australia and South Africa step on to the field with akkad and play a 50-over match with a Twenty20 attitude. Modern cricket is power and raw aggression but India believe in a huddle, a village panchayat, inclusive, joint family kind of approach based on consensus and accommodation.

Now that India have lost, there is much weeping, pointing of fingers and angry expressions of disappointment. Which is ok because when there is death, there will be grief. Similarly, when a big tree falls, there will be a tremor and the earth will shake.

Sadly, all this collective and loud outpouring of dukh is unlikely to lead to positive change. The coach may pack his bags and depart, sparking another round of swadesh/videshi debate, but the chances of someone owning moral responsibility or improving wickets or raising domestic cricket quality are as slim as Rakhi Sawant winning an Oscar.

Be prepared: Indian cricket is financially powerful but otherwise powerless, obscenely rich but depressingly poor. The World Cup setback is strong evidence that we have not only lost but are left out.

First Published: Mar 26, 2007 03:20 IST