Vijay Malya with 2008 Force India car © Getty Images
Vijay Malya with 2008 Force India car © Getty Images

 

By Tejaswini Tirta

 

The EnglandIreland match was to the English what an IndiaPakistan match is to the Indians. We Indians can accept defeat at the hands of any team, except our arch rivals. The only difference is that India and Pakistan have always been considered equals.

 

In the case of the England-Ireland clash, however, the English were plain shocked at their loss. One match ago, Andrew Strauss was basking in the glory of scoring 158 against India. Now, he has to carry the burden of allowing a batsman among the minnows, hold records for scoring the fastest century in any World Cup and hitting the biggest six of the tournament. Ouch!

 

But let’s give credit where it’s due. Those who watched the Ireland-England match knew which one of the two was the better team. Be it batting, running between the wickets and, most visibly, fielding. Plus, the restraint the Ireland tailenders showed in the last two overs was equal to that of any champion team. As a result, it’s for the likes of Ricky Ponting and the ICC chief-exes to eat their words and rethink on their move to close the World Cup 2015 doors on associate nations. Instead, they should be looking at encouraging each of these cricket boards to come out more often and be a part of international cricketing events.

 

There’s something that the ICC (as well as the other teams) need to bear in mind at this stage of World Cup. There’s been a lot of minnow bashing till date. The ICC’s decision to drop these teams in the next tourney has been taken. Most of the strong teams tend to approach these matches with the assumption that they’ll win. On the other hand, teams like Ireland, Canada, and Bangladesh, have a point to prove and above all, got nothing to lose. They don’t even have a board or media reprimanding them if they don’t win. They are basically stepping onto the field with near-zero pressure. And that’s a massive advantage!

 

I’m huge Formula One fan too. I can’t help but compare how the two sporting managements treat the weaker teams racing alongside legends. Until 2007, the only Indian representation in the F1 circuit was Narain Karthikeyan. That year, Vijay Mallya bought Spyker F1 and changed its name to Force India F1 for the 2008 season. Two years later, his team was regarded as one of the strongest mid-level contenders of the season. Today, Mallya also represents India in the FIA World Motor Sport Council. What’s more, India is also hosting a race in October and will continue to spread the motorsport fever in the country.

 

Why am I talking F1 suddenly? I’m just wondering what would have happened if the FIA had closed the doors on Force India after their below average performance in 2008? We would have never seen an Indian flag wave at one of the world’s richest sporting extravaganzas. Neither would we have several young Indian racing enthusiasts training to be motorsport champions some day.

 

Force India didn’t get a “minnow” treatment simply because the FIA gave us a fair chance and saw great potential in the team’s capabilities. Similarly, in cricket, teams like Ireland, Holland, Canada – and any other country that may choose to set up a cricket team in the future – deserve a place in the WC. Their fans deserve to cheer for them. Their parents deserve to shed tears of joy over an unexpected 100. The players deserve a chance to play for their country.

 

(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)