Should Have Stayed on Vacation
On my way back from Puerto Rico, I noted (to my mysteriously less-than-enthusiastic wife) that even if I missed the first two days of the Sydney test, I would be able to watch the rest of the action once I got home. Well, the Sydney test is over; one day of cricket action has not been used; and really, when I come to think of it all, it might just have been best if I'd stayed on vacation and ignored the cricket altogether.
Two more heavy losses overseas, and for many who will not have paid sufficient attention to the home series against the West Indies, it will seem like the 4-0 thumping of the summer has now been transformed into a running 6-0 scoreline (and perhaps one equally deserving of a response consisting of equal parts hilarity and grief). I will conduct my best impression of the mature, sage, experienced, reasonable, long-suffering Indian cricket fan soon enough, and urge patience, forbearance, and sympathy. Soon, but not just right now. For now, I'd like to just indulge in a bit of chest-beating and wailing (if you have speakers, turn them down now; the terrible keening sound I'm emitting is truly ghastly.).
What makes this all so terribly embarrassing is just how old-fashioned it all is. Imagine that India had lost to a pair of off-spinners on a New Zealand green-top, or perhaps they had conceded a 230-run victory target to a pair of Bangladeshi or Zimbabwean openers. Then, we'd all be chuckling about the novelty of it all, about how the Indian cricket team had somehow contrived to pull off a unique loss, one unprecedented in its cricketing history.
But the problem is that even that minor comfort of disastrous novelty is not present in the current circumstances. For the Indian loss at SCG was made singlularly rank by the utter familiarity of it all: India are playing overseas; when their batsmen bat, the pitch turns green and hilly; when the opposition bats, a squad of alert groundsmen runs out, flattens the pitch and mows the grass; when India bat again, the gremlins take up their usual positions underneath the pitch. The batting line-ups crumble; the fielders (when they are not giving the crowd the bird), stare blankly into space; the chief traffic-policeman (sorry, fielding captain) is a flurry of brisk arm direction; and finally, at the end, there are the bromides of the post-match ceremonies. And the wait, equal parts horrified anticipation of the remaining games, and resigned acceptance of the inevitable home-series triumphs that will make the memories of the overseas disasters a little more palatable.
Plenty is going wrong right now, plenty to be picked through and dissected. Who could sift through the debris of this latest disaster adequately? Only those who have recovered from the grinding weariness of similar efforts conducted through the summer. A brave, if not very numerous, bunch.