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Monday, 15 August 2011

Shubh Aarambh

Just a small disclaimer- "Every event mentioned in this and subsequent blogs is purely reflection of my thoughts and interpretations. Have consciously decided to stay away from any Personal and Professional talks. Depiction of people and situations is very accurate and I do intend to post real stories involving characters in my life. However, no names of people in my life will be revealed. I do not take responsibility for any possible comments I get."

I draw inspiration to write this from the place where I am. Waves sweeping the rocks underneath me. Some local kids playing football, seagulls flocking the ocean, it's about to rain, since a few hours. No tourist visible. Wind blowing into my face as I walk down this virgin beach. Not too difficult to figure out the traveler in me. I shall leave travel for subsequent editions.

Well of course, I start with the auspicious game. Cricket.. Rewind to April 2, 2011. Dhoni hit the 6 and then for one full night India was a place it never had been. Country plunged into its biggest ever party.. For once corruption, politics and other evils took a back seat. I have not seen happier news papers, news channels and people as a whole, as it was during then.

Lead up to the finale, people were " Bleeding Blue". Tell this term to anyone (who has seen Sanitary Napkin Ads) in any part of this world- women will be embarrassed and feel offended and men will find a sharpest weapon to hit you if you tell them to "Bleed Blue" A few hundred million rupees was enough to convince Indians that bleeding blue is indeed cool. Profile pictures, badges and what not turned blue overnight. Not to forget people in some cities were exposed to gruesome and atrocious Billboards featuring half naked Sreesanth shouting some weird stuff. Still we stood by all this madness and even got motivated by it. On April
2, finally the country had a Unified Blue Orgasm. In the end, communications and marketing were the winner, along with cricket. Marketing heads of some companies that bled blue would overnight achieve godliness and their agencies that created and bought media for bleed blue would have made enough money to negate a 100 unsuccessful campaigns.

Fast forward to Headingley in august 2011. India 3-0 down. The very guy who wore a bleed blue badge and had the happiest day of life on April 2, is now using the choiciest abuses against his team. Saale chutiye hai. Bhenchod ad mein kaam karna hi aata hai. Paise ke liye hi khelte hai. (I blog stuff we generally speak. Nothing is more saddist than use of star marks and 2 letters when both, reader and narrator know what they are talking about). The so-called communication expert in me tries to bring sense to the situation and think what really went wrong.

1. You just lost to a team that is very well prepared, raring to go and plays better than you when it matters. Is it not basic?

2. Imagine being out of your home for more than 300 days in a year and being asked to play double the cricket than most other nations do. Across time zones, climates and situations. One humiliating loss in a few years. Not suicidal right?

3. This one is interesting-
Here are a bunch of young guns. Forget the seniors for a bit. They have experienced everything a young man at 24 would ever dream of. They have played for India, won matches, earned money, scored over some of the prettiest lasses in the country and won a world cup that no on did for 28 years.
Now, I won't buy crap that every time you play for india you play for pride and blah blah. Play for 300 days a year and play for pride on 301st day. How much pride can a person digest? Not to forget, they represent a board that itself does not give shit about pride. (point 4 to elaborate this). The fact is, they are like hungry pythons, being asked to be fed more and more. They like the glamor, they like the attention and they like the money. The fact is, the brands, the board, the system and we the people have groomed them into these creatures by feeding more and more. They need motivation and need to be guarded fiercely against complacency. Suresh raina will not learn how to tackle a short ball, by making him play a thousand of them in the nets. Language he understands, somewhere inside, is the occasion. Although he too, might not admit it. He showed his class in the world cup semi final against Pakistan. Will he be as motivated to show the same display in front of old gentlemen occupying the front seat at Headingley? With no pretty girls to hook up with in the post match party? I doubt. The former is what he has groomed to handle. Not the latter. Whose fault is it?

4. The board- let me put it straight. The board does not understand cricket, does not want to. It creates heroes and destroys them. Players, coaches, selectors, support staff and ICC are all a part of the huge "Scapegoat System". Which board would have someone like Kapil Dev disrespected and out of system, despite earning the most coveted trophy through him? And pay a couple of crores to Shastris of the world, whose contribution to this country is well, questionable to say the least, to make them speak what it wants to show the world?

What if Dhoni's performance dips and we suffer a few more such defeats? Will they drop him after stripping his captaincy?  Well of course. Will Indian people stand by this? Yes of course.
Would they have once tried to figure out the issue or root cause? Well. I don't think so. That's for the experts and bloggers. Bcci is too big for them. Is there anyone bcci is answerable to, that it does not fall under govt? I fear not. If tomorrow, they do not have good training pitches and training infrastructure and india fails, who is to blame? Yes of course? See, the brilliant scapegoat system. How difficult is it to set up a few bouncing wickets with your billions? Why has it not been done? Who is tracking all this and how many times has an average india abused players more than the board? Not undermining bcci. They have played a huge role in getting us where we are today. But need to move over their myopic vision and understand there is a heritage they are handling, which is more than the game and must be done with utmost care.

It's an ecosystem. Not a success or failure. The answer to our woes and way ahead depends on how well the python is fed and how quickly the board realizes there is a sport to be run, not just a business.

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