Sunday, May 07, 2006

Getting a grip on reality

It's unusually cold for this time of the year in Melbourne tonight, and somehow I was reminded of India's loss to New Zealand in the 1992 World Cup. That game was played in the southern most cricket ground in the world, the Carisbrook Park in Dunedin, and was a miserably cold day. Compounding matters was the dismal Indian top order throughout the tournament, but it was when we bowled that the situation became somewhat farcical. Both Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar, who were splendid throughout the Australian tour and the World Cup itself, struggled to hold the ball firmly and get a grip, such was the cold. The ball was wiped every now and then, and saw dust was used, I think, to help matters (I have a vague remembrance of the game). Kapil and Prabhakar both went for runs, and if it wasn't for Javagal Srinath's heartening performance, it would have been a humiliation instead of a simple rout. It hammered home, for the first time, how conditions overseas could affect our team. One had got used to visitors to the subcontinent complaining of the heat, among other things, and how it was sometime the one factor that decided the fate of the game. Thanks to the organisation/structure of the global media establishment, and our English connections, we always got that perspective drilled into our minds. It was only much later when Sunny Gavaskar, bless his polemic soul, attempted to educate the cricketing public in India on the matter through his columns, that I could relate to the Dunedin game fully. Gavaskar has often written about the unsatisfactory accommodation and hospitality that could at best be described as lukewarm on tours of England, to the point where he seems to have been stuck in the past. It is nevertheless important to understand that context to appreciate his recent comments regarding complaints about the amount of cricket from the cricketing as well as media circles. In conditions that render that much abused term, acclimatisation, meaningless, the one thing that motivates a player is pride - personal and national. Needless to say, Gavaskar had oodles of both - perhaps to a fault on the first count - and the results have been recorded for posterity. It is common knowledge, and common sense, that there is too much and needless cricket at the moment and that has to change. But it is important to realise where Gavaskar (or Javed Miandad, for that matter) is coming from, before making any snide remarks about the past masters being romantics of a bygone era. By the way, I have never understood why anyone would want to play a 2-match or a 4-match series. The cricket board of India and Pakistan, of course, are better equipped to handle the question in their infinite wisdom, but it sure beats me. I'm sure it hasn't escaped anyone that India plays a disproportionate number of series with an even number of games. - NK


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4:17 AM  

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