Sunday, August 07, 2011

Brewing crises and cold comfort

"The sense of growing crisis". That is a nice turn of phrase; I've stolen it from the Independent. I suppose its an apt way to describe the developments of the last day or so on India's tour of England. For we have been treated to the news of a county side making 200 for the loss no wickets against India's "back-up" bowling attack, the recall of a flabbergasted Rahul Dravid to the India one-day international side, and the final, sad denouement to a catastrophic series for Zaheer, who is now, finally headed back to a therapist's table.

Sometimes things go wrong in in clusters. This is certainly one occasion. All the makings of an epic disaster are in place: injuries, selectorial panic, an out-of-form captain, a determined opponent, an away tour, a hostile media (both the opponent's and one's own), the sense of being the target of schadenfreude. One vital ingredient is missing thus far: internal dissension and strife. (Well, the Dravid selection announcement might have upset a few folks). If things continue to heat up, we might see that as well.

Where then, is one to find comfort in all of this? I suggest the answer lies in a knowledge of history, especially that of the Indian team. By that I don't mean the usual, facile bullshit that has been quite fashionable in the past few years "Oh, we are slow starters, we always come back". No, comfort needs to be found in two facts, one perhaps specific to the Indian team, the other common to all fans of sports.

First, the history of Indian cricket is a history of ups and downs, of new dawns and familiar depressing twilights. This year has been no different. India started the year (or rather ended 2010) with a great, hard-fought test win, and then almost immediately showed an inability to close the deal. They won a World Cup, and then were unable to convincingly put away one of the weakest sides in the world. And now this. This pattern of trough and crest, crest and trough, should be familiar by now. Sometimes I forget about it, and express voluble disappointment on this blog. But too many factors operate in the Indian cricket environment to make true consistency possible: inconsistent selection, persistent injury and fitness problems, crowded schedules, the list goes on. The Indian fan should reconcile himself to this roller-coaster ride. Yes, the Indian team has been more consistent in recent years, but even within this period, we've seen many blips. Many more await. Take a deep breath.

A small historical note: in 1969-70, India lost 1-3 to Australia at home. We then proceeded to beat, in 1971, the West Indies away, then England away (Ray Illingworth's side, then the strongest in the world possibly), and then England at home; we then lost 0-3 to England in 1974, and then, after being 0-2 down against the West Indies at home, came back strongly to make 2-2 before losing 3-2. A year later, after going down 0-1 to the West Indies in the West Indies we pulled off our most amazing victory chase of over 400 at Port of Spain. Sometimes when I hear modern, younger fans of Indian cricket try and convince me the current outfit has got it all, and are doing something so unique, so amazing, so singular, I am stunned. What did they think was happening in the period I've just described?

Secondly, these triumphs and disasters are part of the inevitable lot of a fan. The bitterness of this summer should make the next triumph sweeter. Perhaps the one-days will go better. Perhaps India will do well against Australia away. (It won't, for me, make any triumphs at home sweeter; I am, sadly, one of those Indian fans who is tired of wins at home. So sue me).

Lastly, I would like to offer a prediction: Duncan Fletcher will not last long as coach. And after his departure, we will hear stories of just how bad things were in his regime. I'm not a huge fan of the coach system, and within that, I'm not a huge fan of Fletcher. His appointment was a mistake, and I think we will soon hear why so.

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Blogger straight point said...

not putting on disagreement of post but to your comment...

"i am tired of wins at home..." by this account... why should we show outrage when opponent wins at home... ;)

win irrespective of where it come is earned... not given... its not as if at home we/they just have to stroll to park to earn a win...

4:10 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

SP: I agree - I'm not trying to discount Indian wins at home, I'm just expressing a certain greed for an unresolved desire. It's like saying "I've had enough biryani, (which is an awesome dish), could I please be served some kababs too?" :)

8:06 AM  
Blogger AgniHothra said...

Hey Sameer
I keep having this nagging feeling in the back of mind that the fletcher appointment might end acrimony.Also may prove to be the end of the road for at least one of the 3 galacticos.

5:45 AM  
Blogger AgniHothra said...

Sameer for sometime now I've been getting this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that the Fletcher regime would end in acrimony.Also atleast one of the remaining fab 3 might end their career befor the aussie tour if we do not get back a test..
what do you say?

5:48 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Agni: I think Fletcher's reign will not end happily - on that we are in agreement. I don't know whether any of the Big 3 will be lost if we come back winless from England. SRT and Dravid are untouchable, and VVS hasn't done anything wrong, and in any case, it would be lunacy to drop him even if we lose 4-0.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Pushkar said...

Selecting Fletcher was a surprising move to me too. It could be because Indian board thought of England as their toughest challengers in the world cricket and Fletcher would know a thing or two about them. But looks like it is not at all working. I have a feeling that the next coach would be an Aussie who has played considerable amount of domestic cricket in Australia but hasn't been a regular in the Waugh/Ponting sides (Most of them are too aggressive for BCCI's purpose). Someone who knows a lot about Australian conditions and who keeps a rather low profile. Someone in Stuart Law mold. All this keeping in mind that we would be defending our title over there 4 years down the line.

11:27 AM  

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