Indian team plays straight

PTI | ByAmrit Mathur
May 31, 2004 01:46 PM IST

While other countries are regularly hit by controversies and crises, Indian cricket is free of such epidemics, writes Amrit Mathur.

While other countries are regularly hit by controversies and crises, Indian cricket is free of such health-threatening epidemics. Zimbabwe, currently, are terminally ill and Pakistan are in some kind of a coma. Before that, NZ/SL/Australia have had serious pay disputes and the West Indies went through extensive turmoil over many issues.

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Players in other countries also contribute liberally to the on-going mess. Cairns participated in a violent night club brawl, Pakistani players rioted during a football game while training.

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Compared to this, current Indian players are correct and invariably proper which makes some even think of them as uninteresting. The only khabar about our khiladis is the enormous amount of money they make. Apart from this there is the odd, and usually incorrect, story about a romantic involvement with some aspiring filmi starlet.

Everyone agrees India have an extremely well behaved team whose gentlemen players don't do anything wild inside or beyond the boundary. Match referees have no problems with our players (except crazy ones like Mike Denness), officials universally love them because they neither swear at umpires nor throw bats to smash glass doors in dressing rooms.

Sachin Tendulkar (despite 25,000 runs, 70 centuries) is not known to throw his weight around, he won't demand a suite at the team hotel nor request for extra passes for friends. Contemporary wisdom suggests it is not good to be nice. In these competitive times teams/players must be aggressive and pushy. Coach John Wright constantly reminds players to show intensity on the field, which is a gentle request to be tough.

Captain Ganguly does not think much of this nice guy image. Unlike Azharuddin who worked without an agenda and merely went with the flow, Dada is determined to win -- and willing to do what it takes to achieve that. His captaincy style is completely in contrast to that of Inzamam, who is so laidback that observers think he needs to be aroused from deep slumber. Inzy bhai is a nice guy who will not hurt anyone, said one player. He fires you politely -- even gives gaalis with pyaar.

Teams deliberately use aggression and gamesmanship to distract opponents but the Indians choose to play straight, letting their performances do the fighting. The current Indian team consists of supremely confident players who don’t care if others sledge or show attitude.

The seniors are battle-scarred and mature, the younger lot are unimpressed by reputations. Yuvraj and Sehwag , leaders of the youth brigade, aren’t frightened of anything and if it comes to a scrap woh kisi se kam nahin.

Ultimately what counts is  that the team is winning and individuals are playing glorious cricket and setting records. Why ask for more?

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