Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wheres the love?

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.


Blogger John said...

Excellent post. Love the vitriol.

When I was driving around Delhi, soaking in all the happiness after the T20 win, and marvelling at the madness, one of my friends remarked that it is the same craziness that fuels the effigy syndrome.

7:53 AM  
Blogger straight point said...


infact i highlighted same facts in my recent post about this damn pitch..

we should just laugh at their cricketing insanity...

which prevents them from seeing that a fast bowler bowling around 150k on lively green top...ball whizzing pass your helmet...with ambulance on standby is good...

but spinner bowling at around 70-80k makes them piss in their pants...

hilarious, isn't it...let them grow...the kids...

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post Samir. And thank you for putting together so succinctly what a lot of us have been thinking evere since Mahanama made that idiot call.


9:06 AM  
Blogger Gaurav Sethi said...

glad you wrote this samir, and glad we had kanpur, and glad we still have catches at leg slip off spinners.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Thanks for the comments, all. I suppose I could have written this post earlier in response to the usual press coverage after so many Indian wins in the past but it only happened now.

John: Its one and the same emotion really, just channeled differently. Sometimes I do think this damn game takes up too much of my time!

SP: Yup, clearly, a bouncing, fizzing off-spinner is way more dangerous (in some cricketing sense at least). Its worth reading a little piece that Steve Waugh wrote on his battles with Kumble in the one-off test at Delhi. A good perspective on what battling on a turning pitch means to a quality batsman.

Homer: Thanks - BTW, I missed the reference to Mahanama - what was that about?

NC: You're welcome. I love watching spinners wheel away, and especially love the close-in catches.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I insist the pitch was sub-standard, with enough threats to the life and limb of a batsman. But then it was same for both sides too!

4:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

I agree with alot of what you said, but, didn't Kumble tell the curator to shave the pitch so the grass wasn't a factor is the second test?

Is that not acting like millionaires, and I personally didn't think that pitch was that bad, the ball played fairly truly, and the Indian's only fell over on it once.

In the third test the pitch didn't play true, not that I'm saying it's an excuse to the SOuth Africans who were going to lose from the time they first saw the pitch.

Does anyone see the South African's as working class, i see them as bullying arrogant nancy boys who call apart under pressure and think they should be worshipped.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Homer said...


Mahanama is the match referee who made the call to report the Kanpur wicket :)


7:39 PM  
Blogger ClicksandWrites said...


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10:14 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Sorry for the late response folks.

JRod: Perhaps that was acting like a millionaire, or perhaps that was a captain playing hard-but-fair? Was Kumble within the rules to do so? Was he cheating? As for the working-class crack, I just made that up as an example of the hype that we get subjected to - I didn't mean it to be entirely accurate.

Homer: Thanks!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Well it's not hard but fair, if your saying to a curator, that won't help us, change it, then your a little precious, maybe not a millionaire, but at least like a private school kid.

And that goes for all captains who do it, not just Kumble, it's like when Potning puts a nightwatchman in ahead of himself, just pick up the bat like you are paid to do you preening goose.

I'm sure it is within the rules to do so, but it's probably not in the spirit of the game, but people use the spirit of the game when it suits them. Ponting, Kumble and working class south africans.

8:57 AM  

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