Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Bangalore fiasco and the placard

The placard said it all. 'I didn't come 10000 miles to see this". I did not see such placards before in Indian cricket arenas, so it interested me.

In case our players did not know, I'd like to clarify this. There is a primary responsibility that spectator sports have. It is to entertain the spectators. Entertainment in the form of honest competition; closely fought competition that makes spectators sit on the edge of their seats.

But in the Bangalore test between India and Pakistan, the Indian skipper Anil Kumble defied all logic by not declaring soon enough and foregoing a chance to win a rubber 2-0. My disappointment was more because I genuinely appreciated his captaincy in the first two tests.

The only thing that came to my numbed mind was that there is a definite way that justice is served when there is no honesty. No wonder the Pakistanis got away with bad light in a match they would have lost embarrassingly if it was played out for another twenty minutes.

As a spectator I'd appreciate a situation when gallant challenges are thrown at opponents even if it meant giving them a lifeline. Don't mistake me. I am all for killing the opposition when it is down: but I cannot forgive a decision that denies your side a chance to win.

The inexperienced captain might even lose a match with a sporting declaration, but he will certainly win many spectators hearts. The experienced captain would know the margin (especially when he knows the opponent's batting strength). But here's a perplexing case of an experienced player denying his side a win.

Was our bowling, spearheaded by Kumble himself, so bad that they cannot contain a depleted side within 300 runs in two sessions? Was the batting practice of fringe players so important? Or was there something that the poor spectator could not see that only the greats inside can see?

There must be millions of spectators out there who felt cheated. I did, even though I only moved as far as the couch in my living room. I can only imagine how my placard-holding brother from 10000 miles away must have felt.

I only hope Kumble or whoever made the call, had the right reasons for making the appalling decision. And in future, whosoever makes these decisions better be warned; they better be in spectator interest.
That placard is only a sign of things to come.

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