|HOME | WORLD CUP 99 | INDIA | OPINION | ROHAN CHANDRAN|
|March 25, 1999||
Is there anything this Indian team management is incapable of ?Rohan Chandran
Cricket is like beer." So says a member of the
Stanford Cricket Club (name withheld because his parents are known to surf
these pages and may be less than amused to learn that their beloved son
is in a position to make such an observation).
"You don't like it at first," he explains, "but after a while, you can't do without it, even though you can't explain why you like it so much."
After much thought, I've worked out that this is how I feel about one-day cricket. I swear to you, I don't like it. And yet, I wake up at 2 am, drive 15 miles, and lie sprawled on the floor (and therein lies the essence of the analogy, no doubt), glued to a television for the next eight hours or so. And then it's straight to the office.
It's not as easy as it sounds either, and I'm not speaking exclusively about the trials and tribulations associated with being an Indian supporter. It took a major deforestation exercise just to ensure that the satellite signal reached our little dish, perched precariously on the balcony railings. Throw in the cacophonous snoring of the enthusiastic fans gathered around me, along with the repeated realisation that I actually have tickets for the games I'm watching on a 29 inch screen, and you begin to get a clearer picture.
It's been 10 days now, and I'm still trying to work out what I feel about how the tournament has unfolded. The performances of South Africa and Pakistan have come as no surprise, and having advised other people to bet on New Zealand at 22-1 (I wouldn't dare myself), their showing has impressed too.
I suppose I should be grateful to my beloved Manchester United, and also to George Lucas, for giving me reasons to miss India's woeful performances with the ball against both Zimbabwe and Kenya. Even without having seen them live though, it's clear that things aren't quite working out. What worries me in particular, apart from the batting, bowling and fielding, is the fact that the team management still does not seem to know what its ideal combination should
be. Five bowlers, or four? Is Robin Singh an all rounder, or a spare batsman? Should Tendulkar open the batting, or come in at number four? The list of questions is endless. The list of answers is nonexistent. The shame of it all is that every man and his dog have been asking these and other questions since time immemorial.
At the end of the day, each and every individual has to want it badly enough, and unless he does, his performance will never quite measure up when it really matters. The talent is there, but that has never been enough. Just ask Brian Lara.
There were stories in the press recently about Sri Lankan fans being presented with a cricket quiz when applying for visas to enter the UK. The rationale behind this was to ensure that those coming in were bona fide cricket fans. It's probably a good thing the Indian team didn't have to go through such an ordeal. A quiz on the basics of the game may well have been beyond some.
Of course, there is an alternative explanation for India's performances. One which Indian fans tend not to consider, and yet one which history lends remarkable credence to. The theory is simply this: India are not that good. We can criticise the team all we like for losing to South Africa, but maybe we should all pause to consider a small truth. South Africa are a superior one-day side. Seven out of ten times, they will beat India. For India to win, we need to play out of our skins, and we need South Africa to be sub-par.
A week ago, we played as well as we could, for the most part. They were just up to the challenge. I don't countenance the acceptance of being second-best, but sometimes a dose of reality is in order.
Worrying also is the appeal the Indian team management submitted after the loss to Zimbabwe. Normally, what would bother me would be the inability to accept defeat, and the insistence on searching for excuses and scapegoats, in preference to an honest attempt to right the things which went wrong. However, in this case, what is really terrifying is that the appeal served as proof positive that the Indians haven't even read the tournament rules and regulations.
They complained about their innings being reduced to 46 overs. The match referee was spot on with that one, and the fact that other referees have failed to be as strict is neither here nor there. The blame for this lies squarely on the shoulders of those out there in the middle who made no effort to speed things up.
Remarkably, some of the players out in the middle were heard telling others to take it easy, and that there was no rush. Go figure.
If that wasn't enough, the Indians then complained about the fielding
restrictions applying for only 13 overs in their innings. However, the rules clearly state that under the given circumstances,
the field restrictions shall be applied in the same proportion as
they were for the first innings, with fractions ignored. Divide 15 by
50, and multiply by 46. Then discard the fraction part of the
result. Whichever way you look at it, that makes 13.
I can't even imagine what to expect next. Perhaps I'd be better off just having a beer. It's all the same, after all, isn't it?
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