Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sounds rough but familiar

I came across this article by Robert Craddock (who always likes to have a bit of a go at all and sundry) a bit late, and couldn't help but notice the following gems:
India is still a team of pampered stars and the most overrated side in the world. To see India's team of cruising millionaires harassed and gang-tackled to the ground by the bustling little Bangladesh side with an average age of 23 will remain one of the joys of the cup....India, by contrast, remains the great underachiever. Every time it has a major tournament it trots out its list of big names -- Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag among them -- and gets beaten. The side looks stale, emotionless and soft.
OK, so it sounds rough, but come on, Indian fans say this, and more, all the time. (I don't get what Bangladesh's average age has to do with anything though, and Craddock is a bit of a pompous twit in general, but still). Read the piece, and the bit where Craddock looks forward to Greg Chappell's memoirs on his time in India. Sure, but what is Chappell going to tell us that John Wright's excellent book already hasn't told us? Oh, sorry, I forgot, we'll get the true gen on the Dada spat. Right.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pompous twit? You're being too kind. Like so many of his countrymen, he can barely mask his xenophobia and biases, assuming, of course, that he even tries to.

And he even gets paid for the stuff he writes......

John Wright - now there was an honest man. If so many Indians got upset by his book, can you just imagine the fuss when Chappell releases his memoirs?

9:14 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Bryan, thanks for your comment. I'm actually looking forward to Chappell's book. Truth be told, parts of Wright's book are a bit thin - and I think Greg's writing will delve a little deeper. I liked the heartfelt tone of Wright's book - he managed to express the right amount of affection and annoyance with India (one felt by plenty of Indians!).

10:02 PM  
Blogger shakester said...

I read that piece as well, also this reaction to it.

I quite like Indian Summers as well, the tone of the book, as you say, was very amiable without being pointless. Am sure Chappell might be a bit more blunt, but I would not expect too much from him.

As for Craddock, he really is on adifferent planet. Having opinions is one thing, putting them across in his way is quite another.

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chappell will blame everyone else and absolve himself of the mess he is going to leave India in. And take a high sanctimonious tone that will be parroted by Waugh and Ponting. Peter Roebuck will gleefully make potshots while balacning it with enough platitudes on Sahcin so that Indian newspapers dont stop syndicating him.
For all the Indian crickets, these men are far more despicable - coming to India to earn money and knocking them and unable to get over their bias against brown skin

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I liked Prem Panicker's blog post, and not just becasue he shares my distaste for the Craddock!
The bit about the yawning amused me too, and I almost considered firing off a post to the all-knowing Craddock, exhorting him to familiarise himself with the physiology of yawning, but then thought - what's the point? (I recently had reason to research the act of yawning myself - my daughter yawns hugely before every race she runs - being a very committed and successful athlete, even at her age, I knew the yawns were not for want of enthusiasm, so I had to find out why...)

I liked John Wright's book because I felt that he had a genuine affection for India and its people - I did not pick up from him that feeling of cultural superiority that seems to lurk within the attitudes of so many Antipodeans (well, Australians anyway since I can't speak for the Kiwis) towards their "third-world" Asian neighbours.

Raj, I personally think you're being a bit harsh on Chappell - while I'm not a huge fan of his, I still think he is doing his best as a coach. He just suffers from the same problem all conscientious coaches do - in order to make inroads, he has to call things exactly the way he sees them, whether or not we want to hear it - and we Indians don't like being told of our shortcomings, especially by the white man (not entirely unreasonable, given our history). To add to this, there are the cultural differences - As an Indian who has lived in Australia for a decade and a half now, it's easy to see why Australians succeed at team sports where we fail - team skills that Aussie kids take for granted are often things we Indians struggle with.

What does irk me about Australians (and I sincerely hope this is not true of Chappell) is how easily they succumb to the stereotyped notions of Indians that they or their antecedents have formulated.
A good example of this (and pet hate of mine) is an Australian hockey commentator named David Christison - India's TEN Sports touts him as a "hockey expert" - the man barely know one end of a hockey stick from the other, as I can attest, having had the misfortune of once playing against him in a semi-social match - and Indian hockey fans would be familiar with his inane ramblings. In his commentary, he routinely passes comments about Asian (Indian and Pakistani) players based on nothing more than his own preconceptions. For example, in one game, I could hear and see (lip-read) the Indian captain, Dilip Tirkey, calling out instructions to his fellow defenders in Hindi - according to Mr. Christison, Tirkey was "berating" his fellow defenders, something an Australian player, with his advanced team-skills (true), would never do - you see, the natives can always be trusted to bicker and argue among themselves in a crisis, that's how divide and rule worked, wasn't it? On another occasion, Gagan Ajit Singh could be seen calling out words of encouragement to Khandekar after the latter missed an easy chance at goal - according to Mr. Christison, there were now "signs of discontent in the Indian team - they're all bickering amongst themselves". And if I were watching the game on TV with a bunch of Australian mates, I could guarantee you that the large majority of them would echo these opinions; it would be jocular but still in an avuncular, patronising and mildly amused way that still irks me and always will...but I digress...I'm on my soapbox again....sorry..

12:51 AM  
Blogger shakester said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Shakester, thanks for the link to the Panicker post. He's got quite a way of expressing himself, hasn't he? There used to be a time when Prem would get badly panned by Indian fans, but he's really come on over the years. (I like the geekiness of the wikepedia link on yawning!)

7:53 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...


Thanks for that extended comment (and thanks for bringing up hockey - another game near and dear to my heart, and one which I wish I could follow even more closely). I agree that Chappell has his work cut out for him in many, many ways. I'm sure he faces the same problems that Wright alludes to, and more, ever since the Dada spat. Its worth noting too, that Chappell had communication issues back in Australia as well - the stories I heard about him when I lived in Sydney didn't suggest me that he was doing too well. I can only imagine those difficulties have been multiplied in India. BTW, that comment about team sports is spot on - when I played cricket in Australia, I was struck by how different the attitude was on the ground compared to my Indian experiences.

And don't worry about getting on the soapbox - heck, I do it all the time!

8:07 PM  

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