Today in New Delhi, India
Dec 14, 2018-Friday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Indians lack Aussie spark

Ace photographer Raghu Rai went to a cricket match to shoot pictures but came back disappointed and depressed. Said he, with much anguish: Indian players lacked josh, they looked burdened, stressed out, pressured and dispirited.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2003 00:10 IST

Ace photographer Raghu Rai went to a cricket match to shoot pictures but came back disappointed and depressed. Said he, with much anguish: Indian players lacked josh, they looked burdened, stressed out, pressured and dispirited.

Whatever the merit of this opinion, there is no denying that every cricket victory/defeat triggers a massive reaction and, depending on the result, we swing crazily from one extreme to the other.

When India beat Australia a day after Diwali (with Sachin making another hundred) there was joyous celebration. When India lost to them in Mumbai the mood soured, leading to bitter criticism.

This raises some pertinent points. One, why does cricket have such a powerful influence on our lives, why are streets empty — and tickets for Shahrukh Khan’s latest hit available on current booking — when India is batting?

Two, why is India’s performance annoyingly patchy and inconsistent?

The first question is difficult to answer though social scientists offer several interesting insights, most of which are not easy to understand. But finding reasons for India’s up/down performance is no problem.

In modern (happening!) bhasha, it boils down to intensity and focus. The Indian team is concerned and committed but observers feel it lacks spark. The Aussies, in contrast, have an unmistakable energy and aura about them — they stride out of the pavilion in a manner as if they own the cricket stadium.

On a scale measuring body language, they’re invariably ten on ten. And as happens with successful sides, they are happy and enthusiastic — never thaka hua.

Their cricket is marked by strict discipline, which is amply demonstrated in Brad William’s length (just short to prevent the cut) and Bracken’s line (always around off, so that fine leg can be in the circle). Williams took five against NZ and Clarke, a raw, untested spinner, defeated India by toppling four top Indian batsmen.

Australians do not offer gifts and against them each run must be earned and each wicket dislodged after big effort. They understand that international cricket is about hitting the margins, about reducing errors, about being tight.

Bowlers know that a good batsman will pounce on the slightest error. Batsmen know that the difference between a cracking cover drive — and an edge to slip — is a miscalculation of just a few inches. The other impressive quality of Australian cricket — besides discipline — is they have successfully eradicated complacency, a silent killer, from their system.

For them, sport is a ruthless activity, you play to win not to make up the numbers.

Cricket operates on a zero tolerance principle where mistakes are considered terrible sins — make one and even that is one too many.

Raghu Rai, a top professional known for maintaining high standards, wants everyone to be like that.

First Published: Nov 10, 2003 00:10 IST