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Cricket and religion: Why we are losing in England

By Sunil Phatarphekar
Last updated on: August 22, 2011 18:06 IST
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This is the holy month of Shravan. It's a month where doing 'tapasya' by fasting results in a lot of benefits. So our cricketers are all fasting. To be a good sportsman, a perfect diet is essential. This fast has played havoc with our players, says Sunil Phatarphekar

In lawyer-speak, let me state at the outset that this is not about Sachin Tendulkar. 

Indians, wherever they may be in the world, are absolutely consumed by cricket and religion. Look at the image alongside and even the hardest hearted and cynical of you would have felt a tug, a choke at the back of your throat. For those old enough, we would have recalled watching the World Cup victory in 1983 with our newly minted colour TVs.

The sentiments expressed in the previous paragraph may be subject to some serious challenge for the next few days, what with Kisan Baburao Hazare's antics, but that will pass. I believe, as the cricketing cliché goes, that Hazare is temporary, cricket and religion are forever. Anyway, coming back to the point, all of India is disturbed by the drubbing that the cricket team is getting at the hands of our former rulers, the English. We have just lost our ranking as the world's finest cricket team, and what makes matters worse is that we have lost it to the English. Appalling!

Many pundits have advanced reasons, provided explanations and even excuses for this terrible state of affairs. Some of these are:

  • Too much cricket
  • Not enough practice
  • Lack of fitness
  • Too much money
  • The IPL
  • Players carrying injuries and concealing that fact
  • Faulty team selection

However, in my considered opinion, the pundits are barking up the wrong tree. All our cricketers are obsessed with religion, or, to put it differently, they are deeply religious. How many times have you seen a photograph in the morning newspapers with an accompanying write-up about a cricketer going to Shirdi, Siddhivinayak, Tirupati to 'give thanks' to the Almighty. Every century scored results in a small, quiet, solitary moment looking heavenwards. Our cricketers have red strings on their wrist, red tilaks on their forehead, talismans around their neck. Look at S Sreeshanth, Kerala's finest bowler. He looks like a walking Guruvayur temple. Ishant Sharma has a neckful of black strings, presumably to ward off evil eyes. Yes, they are religious and why not, God has given them so much to be thankful for.

This, my dear friend, is the problem. This is the holy month of Shravan. It's a month where doing 'tapasya' by fasting results in a lot of benefits. So our cricketers are all fasting. To be a good sportsman, a perfect diet is essential. This fast has played havoc with our players. The commentators have been mentioning that the team looks subdued, they feel cold and keep their hands in their pockets, there is no chatter in the field. I am sure those who watch the telecast would have heard that. Why did you think all that was happening? Eating sago croquettes (Sabudana Vada) or sago kichdi or only fruits with milk and yogurt has resulted in our cricketers' purity but has certainly affected their ranking. The cricketers' catching ability has been affected as their fingers are greasy after walloping those Sabudana Vadas during lunch time.

This, my friends, is the real problem.

The crafty ones reading this will immediately ask, what about Munaf Patel? To them, I can say, pityingly, he is fasting for Ramzan. Yes, he, poor chap, can't eat or drink anything during the day. Nada! Why do you think RP Singh was chosen to play despite coming in as a replacement and not having played cricket from January? Because, at least RP Singh can eat those delicious vadas! Mind you, Dhoni is not stupid in choosing RP Singh. Please credit him with more sense.

Do you need more proof? Did India not comprehensively beat the West Indies, in the West Indies, without the services of Sachin Tendulkar? Yes, they did. And pray [no pun intended], when did they do this? Before Shravan!! Now you see what I mean.

By the way Shravan gets over on August 29. So we should do well in the T20 and ODIs.

Right, now that we have got this established, what is the lesson that the BCCI should learn? Simple answer. Play against England during Lent. That should teach those guys a lesson. No booze and no meat during Lent, my friends. That ought to teach those Poms a lesson beating us during our holy month and crowing about it!

The writer is a lawyer, passionate cook and occasional writer

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Sunil Phatarphekar