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India’s Cricket @ Zero

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The abysmal performance of the Indian cricket team during the ongoing tour of Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has come as a big embarrassment for people back in India. For a country that follow the game of cricket as a religion, the manner in which the Indian cricketers have been performing, without any proper application of body and soul, must be very disappointing for the billions; who watch, pray, eat, sleep cricket. Off course, one could argue that cricket is just a sport and there is no need to make the ongoing series in Australia into such a big issue when there are other better things for us to consider and deliberate upon—elections & democracy; corruption & governance; health care & poverty etc. However, as mentioned already, where in a country, cricket is a religion with a mass following and which is intrinsically linked to ‘national sentiment’, the performance of the Indian cricket team will be both applauded and ridiculed in the same measure depending on whether one is winning or losing. And because the mass following by cricket crazy India is also part and parcel of the huge commercial success of the sports in India not to forget the star rating and endowment of our cricketers, it becomes almost necessary to make the game of cricket and those who play and administer it, accountable to the people, say as in a democracy where the government is answerable to the sovereign i.e. the people.

As such given the very nature of cricket in India and its esteemed status almost like a national treasure, the highs and lows of the Indian cricket team will be equally celebrated and mourned. The latest low of Indian cricket—the abject surrender to an out of form Australia under a new captain—must have come as a rude shock to cricket loving India. On the eve of the Test series in Australia, expectation of an Indian win was very high and therefore the loss of three matches so far and that too without even giving the Aussies a fight, is most disappointing. According to statistics, after the latest defeat at Perth, India has faced seven consecutive defeats overseas. The Indian team has been described as ‘tigers at home and lambs abroad’. At home where the pitches are tailor made for batting, the Indian batsmen score heavily while bowlers struggle. So unless those who run cricket in India do something to make Indian pitches more competitive and accustomed to outside conditions, the Indian cricket team will continue to roar at home and meek abroad. 

Then the other point worthy of our current concern is the ills of playing too much of the shorter version of the game i.e. T20 and ODIs. Off course, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is equally responsible for the unhealthy state of Indian cricket. The BCCI is more concerned about generating more and more cash and has forgotten about developing the game or players. Cricket has become a money minting factory for the BCCI and this is the problem with Indian cricket where those who run the game including the players are more and more looking for commercial success and not the good of the game or the country they represent. Rather than lamenting over the latest loss on the field, those who run and play the game of cricket in India must diagnose the ills of the present system. The answer for revival of Indian cricket lies in correcting them.

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