Independence from #1 ranking: An era of charitable domination

MS Dhoni can finally focus on aggregating more test runs than the number of gray strands in his beard © AFP

A nation sighed heavily as Team India lost the third Test in the ongoing India-England Test series and thereby relinquished the number one ranking. However, the sigh might just be the sigh of relief as a metaphorical albatross weighing a truckload of bricks was lifted from the collective consciousness of the nation.


Nobody feels this more than India’s beleaguered captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who over the last few years has donned more hats than Queen Elizabeth.


“Well of course, it is good to be No 1, but frankly speaking it was getting a little tiresome” said Dhoni with his characteristic smile.


“Just like getting a girl to be your girlfriend is a lot more fun than maintaining her as a girlfriend, we would rather be an underdog and chase the top dog”.


On a personal level, Dhoni admitted that the reduced expectations could finally help him stem the rate of graying of his facial hair and (at least) extend his reign as the #1 marketable cricketer of the world.


The loss also brought to an end what has arguably been the golden era of genteel domination. Unlike the lethal West Indies of the ’80s, or the ruthless Australians of the ’90s, who dominated other teams by absolutely pulverizing them into submission, this Indian team believed in charitable domination — in giving its opponent every opportunity to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat, and thereby keeping the fans from the competing nations interested till the very last ball is bowled. This has been acknowledged unanimously by cricketing legends.


“Yeah mate, they’re a bunch of nice guys. You gotta give them that,” said Ian Chappell. “But to me, the most amazing thing about this team is that they managed to stay No 1 so long with so few match winning bowlers!”


Further, it is not mere coincidence that the health of Test cricket questioned by one and all some time back is now seen to be in good shape (It obviously is, if the ICC is considering Timeless Tests) a mere two years after India at the top of the rankings. This inference is backed by hard data as well. An analysis of the clichés from Ravi Shastri’s commentary over the last decade reveals that the percentage usage of the cliché “Cricket is the real winner” was as much as four times in the Indian era as compared to the Australian era.


Top 3 cliches during Indian Era   Top 3 cliches during Australian Era
Cricket is the real winner 10.20% That flew like a tracer bullet 12.30%
Match is going to the wire 9.50% That has been absolutely clobbered 11.10%
Something’s gotta give… 8.20% There are no half measures 9.50%


Analysis of Ravi Shastri’s cliches proves that everybody went home happy when India were #1


In the minds of many, India’s grace (on the field obviously) as champions has set sky high standards for the new champions. “Well, the English clearly have huge shoes to fill. It’s their call on whether they want to be known as a rude, arrogant bunch like the Aussies, or the gracious test-cricket saviours that are the Indians. If it is the latter, then these 200 plus run victories are simply not gonna cut it” said Peter Roebuck. “They can still make amends by taking the Oval Test to the wire.”


(Reproduced with permission from The UnReal Times is one of the top websites for satire, spoof, parody and humour in India)