Tuesday, January 22, 2008


With the Perth victory Anil Kumble and his men shut up all the Sydney test nonsense in a way that brooks no answer. The Aussie skipper who was all belligerence after the last match shut up. The Aussie team with its irritating, whining quotes after the Sydney match shut up. The Aussie media at large shut up. Most importantly, all the fans in India who reacted with ‘Call the team back’ and who typically over-react to everything cricketing in India, shut up.

This was one of the most satisfying wins I’ve ever experienced by India. It made me smile. It made me take a walk out in the sun. It made me feel warm and fuzzy. No histrionics, no shirt-stripping-and-waving, no raucous shouting and falling over each other in a heap, no pushing out senior administrators rudely out because we won a historic win, no jumping all over the carcasses of the vanquished – no, just a quiet celebration for winning a game of cricket, genuine in every word (unlike some of the antics we see from some of our players which are clearly aimed for the cameras that they know are looking for some visuals to splash across). No wonder, the warmth touched us all the way here. And to all those TV anchors who doubted it – yes, it’s a gentleman’s game still.

It will remain a gentlemen’s game as long as we have players of such exceptional temperament. They belong to the highest league of men – Kumble- the statesman, Dravid – Mr. Fair play, Tendulkar – an icon who sets the highest standards of behavior on and off the field, Ganguly – an exceptional leader and motivator of men, Dhoni – a quiet achiever and incredible man-manager, Sehwag – the most under-rated of all, VVS Laxman – who’s so good you hardly notice him despite all his selfless heroics …there are more but yes, this is a list of exceptional men. Not because of their records but because they know how to lose.
And precisely because of that - they are also capable of winning. Like at Perth.
It’s time Australia learnt how to win. And to lose. Maybe they could hire Kumble to teach them a few lessons in the art of winning.

Bravo boys. This is about being Indian. We don’t need to sledge. We don’t need to fight and beat our chests. We can forgive - like we did Hogg. We can take it on the chin and still carry on – like a racism slur from the most ill-behaved team of all. We can play where it matters most - in the middle.
And we can hurt where it hurts most – by taking away your pride in your den.

But it’s not about that really. It’s merely about playing a game of cricket. And playing it consistently well over four days to deny the famous Aussies the pleasure of dominating even a single day. It is about all the players doing what they can do the best – Kumble daring to bat first on WACA, Jaffer for sticking out the first morning, Sehwag banishing all fears of pacy wickets and attacks, Dravid resolute in defense and so compact that nothing could have got him except himself, Tendulkar carrying the fight deep into the enemy’s heart on the first day, Ganguly for just being there, Laxman making sure that Australia chase 400 by scotching all hopes with some fantastic batting with the tail, Dhoni who excelled efficiently behind the stumps as with the bat, Kumble for captaincy that was uncannily on the button, RP for spirited batting and bowling and young Ishant for lion hearted bowling that reminded me of Kapil’s attitude against famed batting line-ups. A special word for Pathan who did no wrong with the bat and ball and tormented the Aussies and finally hurt them badly everytime he was out in the middle.
Did I miss anyone? Yes, the reserves, the support staff, everyone of us who egged the team on in our mids and said ‘Go on boys, do it at Perth”.
The world’s in good hands my friends. And I know I can wake up with a smile of anticipation tomorrow. The news in the morning papers is bound to be good.

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