Friday, January 06, 2012

Should Have Stayed on Vacation

Last year, while traveling through India, I was able to sporadically follow India's Boxing Day triumph over South Africa (I bought a newspaper, at Cochin's airport, detailing India's win at Durban). This year, I was traveling again over the Christmas/New Year's break; and again, I was able to remotely track India test cricket in the holiday season. This time, of course, it featured a defeat at Melbourne (I sent text messages, from Puerto Rico's Culebra Island to a bunch of friends asking for scores and details; the responses, even if not the scores, were gratifying).

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.

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Blogger Megha said...

I salute you on being able to write a coherent post. The only words coming to my mind when I attempt to write about this disaster are "Aaaargh" and "grrrr" and "nahiiiiiiii...why me god, why me??"

Happy New Year to you guys...6-0 aside :)

9:02 AM  
Blogger Satadru Sen said...

In Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the President's son would (it is said) personally torture the members of the national football team when they lost a match. This may, of course, be American propaganda. But a similar custom, or at least a similar rumor, would do Indian cricket a world of good.

11:32 PM  

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