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June - July 2007

India Sport Scene

Lament of a Cricket Lover

by Bhupendra Gandhi

There is a divided opinion about the treatment of Indian superstars who let their country down so badly. Some feel they have been dealt harshly. After all,it is only a game! In today’s competitive, self-centred, money-oriented, world, no sport is just a game. It is a fight to the finish, a war on the pitch and only totally dedicated sports men should represent their country.

Naturally I beg to differ and feel that if anything, Indian stars escaped lightly, got away with murder when they returned home. In the forthcoming series with Bangladesh, if they perform well, they will be forgiven and every thing will be green in the garden. These are real stars, representing a country with a population of over 1:2 billion. When they do well, they do not hesitate to milk every drop of adoration from the paying public, not to mention enormous financial gain from advertising.

So when they fail miserably, to a minnow like Bangladesh who themselves were beaten by a tiny nation of Republic of Ireland with a population of less than four million, having part time players who earn their living holding routine jobs, it is time to ask whether these pampered players have the right attitude towards the game, and take pride in representing their country or are they there to make money, building business empire and enter politics. Players like Sachin and Rahul earn more in a week than the ordinary Indians earn in their entire working life.

Compared to Pakistani fans, who would not hesitate to kill some one, Indian fans, are docile, tolerant and full of forgiveness once the initial shock has subsided and reality has sunk in.

No wonder most fans blame Dravid, as his captaincy, his judgement and influence deserted him when most needed. I wonder whether any patriotism is left in him. He should give up the captaincy and go to the basic.

No wonder the cricketing authority has taken sterner steps of imposing restrictions, cancelling contracts, reducing match fees and introducing bonus systems to reward good performance. Even the lucrative commercials are restricted to three and every one has to play domestic cricket to be eligible for selection for the national team. But it will have no meaning if in-form players are ignored, not given the opportunity to play at the highest level.

Dravid has, alas, retained the captaincy for the forthcoming tour of Bangladesh, England and Ireland. The team manager Greg Chappel has, mercifully, retired.The days are numbered even for stars like Sachin; but Indian cricket will not regain her past glory until players take pride in playing for their country rather than waiting to open their pay packets.

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