By Tejaswini Tirta
Being the best is the worst thing that can happen to someone. Because the expectations of people around you are so unreasonably high that nothing you do, after you’ve reached the top, impresses them. They’ll always assume you could have done better.
During my school days, I always pitied the rank-holders. That’s right, not envied, pitied. As an above-average student, every time I scored a distinction, or simply maintained my “good form”, there would be celebrations. On the other hand, if a rank-holder who normally scored 98% got 97.5%, he/ she would be met with you-could-have-done-better criticism. Naturally, if young, innocent children are subject to such torture, the stakes are much, much higher in international cricket.
So what if Indian team landed in the West Indies with five key players less? What if this “B” team won the T20 game, three out of five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and the Test series 1-0? What if we are just one of the two teams - the other being England - that’s playing some clean cricket, while elsewhere players and boards are totally dejected with each other and yet to get over their World Cup losses? What if the team proved that it’s a better team, even while playing against a Caribbean team in tough Caribbean conditions? They just had to win all, right?
Since it is the best, the only way the Indian team would have left West Indies with the Indian media - and fans - singing praises of it, would be if we’d won the ODI series 5-0 and the Tests 3-0. Although, in this scenario too, I think we’d have had an article or two talking about what could have been better or who did not match up. I’m just glad Duncan Fletcher and MS Dhoni declared that they are happy with the result. At least, this way we can be sure the players would have taken time off to celebrate and toast to the great performances of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma, before leaving for England. ‘Expert’ criticism be damned!
And this philosophy is probably what the best of the best adopt, at some point in their careers. Be it Dhoni, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Fernando Alonso or Lionel Messi. They learn from mistakes, take home the positives and move on to prepare for the next challenge.
The next contest is in England, which the team last visited in 2007 soon after the World Cup debacle. The team then started the tour minus a coach. Players in the current squad, like Virendra Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbajan Singh and Munaf Patel had missed the series back then, giving Dinesh Karthik and RP Singh an opportunity to shine, which they did. Rahul Dravid came close to scoring a century at the Lord’s in this series (95), whereas Sachin Tendulkar’s tally was a measly 37.
Cut to the present. The spotlight is naturally back on Tendulkar, Dravid and, of course, Laxman — all of whom are waiting to raise their bats to their first (and maybe their last) Test century at the world’s favorite cricket venue. Most importantly, England will be facing a full-fledged Indian side, complete with World Cup heroes, well-rested individuals, those waiting to prove a point, and youngsters looking to concretize their place in the side.
Given that both teams are starting on a similar note, having won their previous contests, and with the best possible line-ups, this is an encounter I’m sure even the players have been anticipating and will be a test for the No. 1 team in its true sense.
Pad up, people!
(Bangalore-based Tejaswini Tirtha spent the first eight years of her career in mainstream media, having worked with leading dailies like Times of India, The New Indian Express and Asian Age, tracking new trends in the film, fashion, theater and gaming industries. A couple of years ago, she was bitten by the corporate bug, but tried to keep the journalist in her alive by grabbing every writing opportunity that came her way. Her other interests include reading, music, watching movies, traveling, F1 racing and of course, cricket)