Friday, January 03, 2014

The art of cricket, when artist is Srinivasan

By John Cheeran

There is a certain kind of sporting fan in India who thrives on schadenfreude. Every time India suffers a defeat, his mood brightens up, as a vindication of his dystopian world view. He can't be blamed, for an average Indian sport fan is a cynic who envies the fortunes that successful sportsmen carry home. Oh, are you talking cricket?
Did anyone expect Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men to make South Africans grovel before them in South Africa? Did you bet on Indians to pick themselves up after the shellacking they got in the one-day series?
If ODI world champions could not match up to South Africans, what chance do they have in the longer format, the charm of which lies in its open ended nature? Very little. But in the end, that LITTLE meant a lot. Yes, India were outplayed in Durban and they lost the Test series. But the series was hardly a one-way street. This was a dignified burial for India’s hopes to be world-beaters away from home, as much as the apostle of reconciliation Nelson Mandela got in South Africa. 
So what are the year-end takeaways for Indian cricket? Cricket will continue to cocaine Indian fan despite the passing away of the age of Sachin Tendulkar. One has witnessed enough to be convinced about the grinding and gun-toting warfare of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. It is not just them. Ajinkya Rahane’s pluck is a lucky pointer for Indian batting. And occasionally, only occasionally, as was the case in the past, bowlers remind the opposition of their existence. In that nothing much has changed. India’s dismal record abroad remains a shabby piece of statistic. Under Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership India has lost nine of the last 10 Tests.
For all that, for me, the biggest winner in Indian cricket last year has been none other than N Srinivasan. Despite the court martial by television anchors, you still have him in control as the New Year rolls in. Srinivasan, against great odds, stood his ground. He did not resign but only stepped aside when bouncers flew around him. One quality that Indian batsmen and bowlers could do with is his stubbornness, a quality once Indian cricket associated with the incomparable Sunil Gavaskar.
Even the Supreme Court did not stop Srinivasan from lording over Indian cricket. He continues to be the president of BCCI and critics have finally allowed him to ‘violate’ the game. 
And look at the way Srinivasan managed to send off Sachin Tendulkar, arranging an anodyne series against the West Indies. He forced Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief Haroon Lorgat to step aside when Indian team went on the South African tour. His ‘Chennai Super King’ continues to be Indian cricket team captain, despite losing both ODI and Test series. There is not even a murmur about unburdening Dhoni of leadership despite his atrocious away record. That’s the art of cricket, when artist is Srinivasan.

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