By John Cheeran
Defeat is easy to explain when compared to victories. Scoreboard lays bare all your fault lines and anyone is free to cast the first stone. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, till the other day the lucky mascot of Indian cricket and captain ice cool, is finding the rise in temperature a bit too hot to handle after India’s disgraceful exit from the T20 World Cup in West Indies.
Dhoni’s ascent to glory started with a T20 World Cup championship title but it was accentuated by India’s early exit from the World Cup held in West Indies when Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappel were in charge of the team management.
Dhoni, captain of the IPL champions Chennai Super Kings, has hinted at the larger pressures at play in the IPL while looking for answers for India’s recent T20 disaster. How can Dhoni blame the IPL as a tournament and its format? Not only his franchise but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would be displeased. So Dhoni says it’s not the problem of IPL but players themselves. They need to be a smarter lot to handle temptations such as IPL Afterhours parties and stuff like that.
While ranting against IPL and its decadent parties, let’s not forget that India has lost matches and tournaments even when there was no IPL to add to the non-stop whirl of international cricket. On those occasions, plainly, our cricketers were not good enough to win. After all India won the World Cup in 1983 and has not won the championship since then. The story remains the same. Despite being the No.1 Test side in international rankings, quality of our cricket is still patchy at its best.
IPL or afterhours parties, what counts is the attitude of our heroes towards their primary task, winning matches for India. If you are carrying an injury, you have no business to be part of the squad. You should have the honesty to let the team management and the national selectors know about it and the best available men take your place in the side.
BCCI, it has been reported that, is not happy with Dhoni criticizing IPL for the T20 debacle. It is even said that Dhoni would be stripped of his captaincy soon. Dhoni, like any losing captain, has made errors of judgment in the T20 World Cup and will have to square up to face the consequences. But it is not Dhoni alone who has erred. What about the national selectors? On what basis was Yuvraj Singh selected for the World Cup despite his listless form throughout the IPL?
Now, to the IPL parties. A news channel reporter who was condemned to hang out outside IPL afterhours parties tells me that cricketers, Indian and foreign, had only on thing on their mind during the IPL -- sex with the Bollywood hotties and other assorted starlets who were part of the Lalit Modi gravy train. Nothing wrong with that, especially after coach Gary Kirsten came out with the thesis on how sex improves your strike rate on the field.
Yes, I know and you know that it’s not morality that counts but runs and wickets. But it’s pathetic that some of our leading batsmen can’t handle the ball when it is pitched short. Bowlers can’t hit the line and length that stifles stroke-making. These are basic flaws. After all, hunger for sex should not be at the cost of the hunger for victories. Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh have a lesson or two to learn from West Indies skipper Chris Gayle and glamour girl Sherylin Chopra.
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