By Tejaswini Tirta
Actions speak louder than words. This is especially true for the Indian cricket team that has always let its batting, bowling, fielding, wins, even losses (and everything cricket) do all the talking. This is not the first time we’ve lost badly. This will not be the last time either, I promise you. As long as cricket is being played across the world, there will be winners, and hence, there will be losers, too. It’s up to the players and them alone to choose which side they want to be on.
So, when it became clear that India will lose the second Test at Trent Bridge, I was more worried about all the media, fan and expert-bashing the next day, than the team’s form or morale. I’m sure the players will get over it and move on to prepare for the next Test. But I dread to think of the extent to which people will go to criticize the team, individual players, coach and selectors, players’ character, families, pets and god knows what else, till we win again. Though I’m willing to bet that if you ask MS Dhoni or Duncan Fletcher about losing the No. 1 spot in the ICC ranking, they will probably smile and say: “We’re concentrating on playing well in the next match."
What’s in a ranking, I ask? Team India at any spot will still remain world champions, for the next four years. Sachin Tendulkar will still remain the greatest batsman. The legends list will always have names like Virendra Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan. Dhoni will still be “Captain Cool”, who has brought so much pride to the nation. What’s in a ranking when the World Champions take wins, losses and criticisms in the same stride?
True champions are those who don’t lose their character, no matter what the situation. Win, lose or draw, Indian batsmen are known to walk when they know they’ve nicked the ball. They are known to let go when a rare lbw decision goes against them (unless it’s a wholesale Steve Bucknor/ Daryl Harper outbreak). You’ll never hear Dhoni tweet: “Ian Bell must be sent back to cricket school for making such a rookie mistake”. Instead, when the captain of the opposition team comes knocking at his door begging that Bell be forgiven, he will simply consent.
Think about it: Had it been an Indian batsman who’d been run-out as he walked off casually before the ball was “dead”, would Dhoni have begged for repeal? He wouldn’t. The question of whether or not Andrew Strauss would have consented does not arise. More so, had this incident happened to an Indian batsman in India, would we – the fans and spectators – boo the visitors when they stepped out post tea? We wouldn’t.
Team India will not gloat overtly when it wins. Neither will it sulk and curse when it loses. There was a time when topping any kind of ranking was a distant dream for us Indian cricket fans. India got there, slowly and surely. But becoming No. 1 doesn’t mean it has become invincible.
From Day One of both Tests against England, the hosts played excellent cricket, the little controversies notwithstanding. Our batsmen failed miserably in all innings (Yuvraj Singh was oozing discomfort every time he came out to bat) and our bowlers were clueless about what the pitch or the Englishmen could do. England, on the other hand, seemed to have everything figured out.
There have been times, not long ago when Team India had everything going for it too. And there will be many more such victorious occasions — if not in the next Test (I’m confident we’ll fight back), then in the next tour. They will, no doubt, have to work hard for it. We will simply have to wait for it. In the meantime, remember that as long as we are not throwing jelly-beans or begging for mercy, we’re the true champions of cricket.
(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)