It doesn’t matter even if Indian cricket team miraculously pulls off a win in the third test match. What have been blatantly displayed over a period of few months and about half a dozen test matches is the sheer chinks in what was touted as a formidable armour in world cricket. Of course Indian cricket has been on a high tide in the recent past with notching the top ranking in Test cricket and the world championship of course. Then what went wrong all of a sudden? How did a sudden streak of failure hit the invincible (as they were projected to be)? I believe there are four reasons (not exclusive of course), all inter related, behind this present gory picture that the team represents.
Firstly, what is so glaringly visible in the fall-of-house-of-cards Indian batsmen is something that has nothing to do with how the bat comes along or how leg moves, it is do with what makes it all move – the mind. The human mind unfortunately doesn’t have a switch which can be turned off and on with relation to the format of the game. It just appears as if the switch has not been turned on for Test match for most of the players. The lack of patience, the quality of shots, the inability to ball long overs both by pacers and spinners, the body language, the clinical approach of a Test match, are all displaying incongruity.
Secondly, which serves as a primary cause for the above mentioned point, is the overdose of cricket especially the shorter versions of the game. Long gone are the days when cricket was supposed to play with sweaters in the cooler months. There is 24/7/365 cricket played. And the Indian cricket team plays the maximum of it. It is such an issue that everyone talks about as player but is not ready to do anything about it. Players of other countries, including star players, absent themselves if they feel it is taxing on their performance. Is that even a possibility in our cricket team? Throw in the attractive models of 20-20, new talent waiting in the bench (wonder why they don’t make it big) and you have everyone wanting to play every format and every time.
Thirdly, which is intertwined with the above reason is people like Messrs Sharad Pawar. The fiefdom called BCCI (its inclusion is more important than the PM’s in Lokpal) which is run by people who seem less like administrators and more like members of some secret society. Just because of the viewership, a cricket frenzy nation (despite match fixing being a persisting phenomena), and the revenue it generates, BCCI has a clout in ICC and is wielding the stick at its own will. Touted as worlds richest sports body it has made players more like machines. The tight schedules that are planned, with a separate window planned for IPL in the international curriculum (no marks for guessing what could be the reason) are definitely taking its toll on players.
Fourthly, the present debacle of the cricket team has a larger deep rooted link to the psyche of present Indian mentality. Fuelled by economic consolidation and the growth story which has catapulted people from lower levels to higher, where ‘winning’ has become a necessity and being a ‘winner’ an identity. The numerous reality shows are a case in point. We are not ready to accept the faults that a Sachin Tendulkar might have. We are in a state of denial regarding Sehwag’s partial hearing loss. We are not ready to accept that cricketers have a shelf life too. The hype created, the aura built and the demi god statuses given to our cricketers have created an invincible and unbeatable image. Add the winning streaks (largely in home conditions) to that and you have a heady mix for people who just cannot fathom the fact that the team can be tamed.
There is no denial of the fact that we are a cricket crazy nation. Large swathes of people are bonded by cricket. It has been believed to be a religion in our country (the communists though have severe objection to this). And it hurts people when the gods of the religion let them down. The break neck pace at which cricket is being played, the magnitude at which newer formats and newer rules are incorporated to make it more appealing to people, the overdose that people are fed with, all of it places cricket on a still higher pedestal. However the present state of things managed by the mandarins of cricket in India clearly depict a disconnect between aspiration of the public at large and fitness of cricket in general on one hand and raking in the moolah on the other.