Indian cricket is writhing in pain. It has been beaten and bruised. The so-called tigers at home are being humiliated and their millions of fans are deeply hurt. Diehard fans of Indian cricket are worried because their team is surrendering very tamely. Zillions of Indian cricket fans are frustrated because their heroes are not showing the mettle that they have been known for, at least in home conditions.
The top half of the batting order is looking shaky and the tail is not wagging at all. Spinners who hardly spin the ball are always in the limelight. Pacemen who could hardly beat a batsman’s defence are not at all in a hurry to work on their bolwing technique. Above all, the super boss of Indian cricket, Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI), is not at all worried with the steady decline in performance.
The administration has found a new stock market in Indian Premier League (IPL) and they are pretty satisfied with the ever increasing revenue of IPL. N Srinivasan and company seem satisfied with the four hours of nonsensical drama. They have hardly any time to discuss India’s future in test cricket.
Diehard fans have been cornered and they are feeling dejected. The anguish of Indian fans was well addressed by former India captain Rahul Dravid when he took part in the latest ‘BBC Test Match Special’.
“A lot of people are upset not just by losing but the manner of the defeats. India won three tosses and had the wicket in their favour in Mumbai and the best of the batting conditions here in Kolkata but they just haven’t been able to capitalise or put up a fight,” said Dravid.
After the disappointing loss at Kolkata the selection committee led by Sandeep Patil pushed Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan out of the Indian squad. It doesn’t require a great cricketing skill to understand that these changes were just cosmetic and some of the players have been made scapegoats.
The matter was duly raised by former India captain Sunil Gavasker as well. In the series the biggest culprit were those players who threw their wicket after settling down well in the middle. But these issues were either overlooked or selection committee was told just to ignore this.
The fans feel ignored because the Indian cricket administration has always preferred to protect their own interests instead of protecting the interests of Indian cricket. What is required for Indian cricket has never been their priority. When former India selector Mohinder Amarnath started spilling the beans the administration tried to refute all the allegations. But he has already opened a can of worms.
It is an open secret in Indian cricket that Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who once had the Midas touch, has lost all his magic and the captain of the Indian cricket team is just trying to shield his place and position. Why is Sachin still playing Tests? Who will ask Dhoni to step down? Why has India only one opening pair which fails every time? Has Indian cricket (especially the Test team) slumped to an unexpected low? Instead of getting any positive solution the fans get frustrated to read an important point raised by Rahul Dravid, “People talk about attitude and say (the players) don’t care because there is too much money in the Indian Premier League. That’s one side of things but the main thing is their lack of skill and ability, which is more worrying for me. It raises questions as to the talent and quality of players coming through.”
That’s what Indians fans are wondering. They just want to remind all Sachins, Dhonis, Sehwags and Yuvrajs that they have been with Indian cricket for decades. And their sentiments need to be appreciated and protected.
They cried on the night of the 1996 WC semi final when India lost to Sri Lanka. They couldn’t sleep for days when India thrashed the mighty Australians at Eden in 2001. Don’t remember them only for blackening the walls of Mohammad Kaif’s home in 2003 and throwing stones at Dhoni’s house in Ranchi in 2007. They had tried to misbehave with Ajit Wadekar when they returned in 1974 from England after being humiliated at Lord’s.The outrage of the fans is not a new phenomenon.
But the love-hate relationship for the players is problematic only when they are hated more than they are loved. There has been plenty of love and adulation as well. In 1971 Wadekar was escorted in a cavalcade after the historic win in the West Indies. His statue was also erected in Indore after the first time series wins in England and West Indies.
Kapil Dev and company are still basking in glory for the historic win in the 1983 World Cup. More recently, on a rain-soaked September afternoon, millions thronged the streets from the international airport to the Wankhede when Dhoni’s team brought home the first World T20 trophy in 2007. Who can forget the longest sporting celebration recorded in world history after India won the 2011 World Cup?
The fans are the real soul of Indian cricket. They are angry but this time they are neither marching on the roads nor burning effigies. They know that Indian cricket has just reached a new low but ther are still waiting to see if their ailing team will jump out of the hospital bed and fight its way to recovery or lapse into a coma that could call for divine intervention.
[The Sunday Indian: Ajay Rana analyses the sorrow and despair of the Indian cricket fan as a star-studded team turns lambs at home AJAY RANA | Issue Dated: November 30, -0001, New Delhi]