The next time a nasty flame war breaks out on the Internet between Indian cricket fans and the rest of world, and someone thinks "Man, those Indian cricket fans are really crazy, effigy-burning types, have they come and trolled on your blog yet? Please God save me from them", please take a moment to read this post so you can understand why we get so pissed off. A long time ago, as part of the Indian New Wave in cinema, a movie called Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai (Why does Albert Pinto Get So Angry)
made a small splash. APKGKAH was a memorable flick, angry at all the right moments. See it if you can. Here is my attempt to provide a small cricketing version.
You might remember that a test match was played in India and ended in three days. Much was made of this fact, much; mainly having to do with the nature of the surface provided for the game. Another test match had ended in three days a few days before that but that was attributed solely to one team's incompetence. Now, I like test matches that end in five days as well with a result in favor of my team. But I don't always get it that way. I'm used to that. But lets take a look at the set of reactions to this Kanpur result closely in just one regard. Note that the international press' coverage of the Indian cricket team is that they are a bunch of useless, insouciant, spoiled bunch of landed gentry masquerading as sportsmen, and they all ride around in luxury limos (when on land and not on their luxury yachts). They like everything their way, they moan and complain when things don't go their way. So, for instance, after the second test, it was pretty obvious to the world's press that the Indians were complaining like little crybabies about the pitch prepared for the game (I don't actually remember any Indian player making any such remarks, but does it matter?) The South Africans on the other hand are blue-collar, gritty, working-class, supremely fit sportsmen with a brutal work ethic and an uncomprising drive toward excellence. But something strange happened at Kanpur. Apparently, a crap cricketing surface was prepared, one which was not conducive for cricket, for batting, for anything. But the team of spoiled millionaires went out and played and won. They played on the same surface, used the same crap facilities that Mickey Arthur complained about. Unless someone magically changed the pitch everytime South Africa went out to bat, and put away the practice facilities in a secret locker when they came out to practice, its pretty clear that the South Africans were playing in the same conditions as the Indians. But one team handled the conditions better; that it was due to its greater familiarity with the conditions is neither here or there. Professionals are supposed to be able to adjust (as everyone is fond of reminding the Indian Millionaires, sorry, the Indian cricket team, when they tour).
Too much has been written about the uncritical acceptance in the world's cricketing press about the idiotic dichotomy of "fast-bouncy-green-seaming-pitch = good cricket and slow-spinning-cracking-breaking-pitch = bad cricket". Anyone who understands cricket should be able to see this. But we get the same idiotic refrain everytime India wins a match on one of these, that the pitch did not make for great cricket. I actually quite enjoyed watching batsmen having to work for runs against spinners. But thats just me. Yes, we know India has a hard time winning on fast pitches. And, you have a hard time winning on these. Even stevens; nice game, lets play again sometime.
There were many suggestions of cricketing incompetence when India lost in the first test (even I made some). But where are the suggestions of cricketing incompetence now? Why not point a finger (or two) at a team that collapsed from 152-1 to 265 all out, that let a tenth wicket partnership add almost 40 runs and push the lead to 60, or one that collapsed utterly in the second innings because their one sheet-anchor, wasn't? But that wouldn't be possible, because we know that when a professional, working-class team with a true-blue work ethic loses, it must be because they were playing on a crap surface, with bad practice facilities, eating wierd spicy food, and watching Bollywood on the hotel television. That must be it. Those millionaires in the mean time were back at home, gloating about their next big contracts.