March 26, 2007


Some weeks ago, Shashi Tharoor wrote an article that mentioned Kargil, Booker Prizes and the fast bowler Sreesanth. How he wove those three together, I would rather that you read for yourself: The Thrilling Face of a Brave New India.

Tharoor's point was simple: Sreesanth's remarkable one-ball, one-shot, shimmying demolition of the big bullying South African cricketer Andre Nel said something about the new face of India: confident, unwilling to back away from a challenge, sure of itself.

And I believe much of that is true, and it can only be a good thing.

But then India loses a cricket match, even two. Immediately, people who are referred to as "fans" set off to throw stones at cricketers' properties, hold slogan-shouting protests outside cricketers' homes, blacken cricketers' images, burn cricketers' effigies. (DNA reports that even his neighbours participated in demonstrations outside Sachin Tendulkar's home). Less demonstrative people -- me included -- have written enormous amounts already, analysing what has happened: some call it a failure, some worse. (A failure? Are we referring to the same guys who even pulled off magnificent Test triumphs over the best teams in cricket not so long ago?)

Yep, all that has happened, and who knows what else is in store, after India's loss to Sri Lanka in the World Cup.

So I wonder. If Sreesanth's attitude and energy speak to us of a new India, what do these "fan" reactions speak to us of? If we cannot understand that losses are part of sport as wins are, where is that confidence and spirit?

In 1895, in perhaps his most famous poem, a man born and raised in this same India wrote these lines:
    If you can meet with triumph and disaster
    And treat those two imposters just the same ...
    ... you'll be a Man, my son!
Sreesanth strikes me as a Man. Too many others of us are referred to as "fans".


Amandeep Singh said...

May be he is,,But staying a MAN in Indian team isnt easy i guess...The team at present seems to above all this Win And Defeat thing...Ironically U c;)

Abi said...

I agree with you about the 'fans'.

But I'm surprised to see that you start this post with a link to a terrible piece by Tharoor, who cannot seem to rise above cliches about how a predominantly Hindu India is led by 'a Muslim President, a Sikh PM and a Catholic leader of the ruling coalition.' [After peddling that silly thing for quite sometime, he has now started adding one more to that list: a Dalit Chief Justice!]

Check out his 'diplomatic' skills in his NYTimes piece, full of gratuitous insults on Americans for their inability to appreciate cricket.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Standbymind, I can't quite understand your point. Can you explain?

Abi, as always good to have you turn up here. The one thing I picked up and wanted to use from Tharoor's article was the mention of Sreesanth and what that said about India. I have never been fond of the cliches either: to me, all those people leading us are Indians, that's all.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Indians aren't cricket fans -- they're fans of the national team winning. Ranji trophy matches, or neutral matches, attract less crowd than a ridiculous Harlem Globetrotters sham-basketball match.

Tharoor's NYT article is silly, as usual. He's just recycled one of the many articles that appeared last year about America's uninterest in the greatest sporting spectacle, the football world cup. But transferring the context here makes no sense. Americans are hardly the only country in the world to be uninterested in cricket. Many of the playing nations -- Netherlands, Canada -- have no discernible public interest whatever.

Jai_Choorakkot said...

1. "... (Sree's) remarkable one-ball, one-shot, shimmying demolition of the big bullying ..."

If that one shot had resulted in a tame dismissal, the script would have been a little different?

To me this reading into a shot "the thrilling face of new India" is not too far from the depraved "fanzy" we have on display now, it feeds from the same obsessive source.

I had read your earlier piece on the twirl and thrust as more ambivalent.

2. Re the "WC debacle" I think this time around Dravid and Co. had done a good job of dampening the expectations- remember the interviews prior to the trip.

But I think most ppl expected a fighting failure_to_reach_semis as a minimum (and a semi slot at the maximum, nobody I talked to seriously expected us to win the Cup).

Even some of the advertising was geared towards the non-abilities of the team, if you think of "jupp for the cup" series.

It WAS a shock to exit ahead of the Super8.


Anonymous said...

"If that one shot had resulted in a tame dismissal, the script would have been a little different?"

No. Because there is a bigger point. India and Indians won't be dicktated to any more. It is true even if Sreesanth's shot had failed. It is the attitude. Not the shot. Im surprised you miss that basic point.

Can you please stop using my id. I thought you had stopped after my last appeal, but you have showed up agin.


Anonymous said...

Can you please stop using my id.

I was going to say, how does someone else use your ID, without knowing your password? And if they know your password, why don't you change it?

Then I realised how. It's easy, and ugly. I'm posting this comment as myself, but without logging in -- which means anyone else can do the same. I like blogger less and less as the days go by.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, thank you. But after weeks of this, along with competing emails sent to me to claim authenticity of one or the other comment, to me this is a battle between two guys who are intent on baiting each other. I can't keep track. I'd suggest you don't waste your breath either.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Dilip -- I'm not interested in sorting out the competing Jai_Choorakkots. (I couldn't even if I wanted to.) I was just stunned by this particular blogger misfeature. I have already been dissatisfied for a while, but this makes me want to explore other alternatives.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, I just figured out what you mean!

I'm amazed by two things -- one, that I hadn't realized this earlier, and two, that such a lunatic bug exists on blogger. How come this hasn't been fixed? I mean, it's so obvious and glaring that I'm even wondering if there's something that I'm missing. Is it meant to be this way for some obscure reason?

Hey, I wish I had known this last week. I was at Google, and I could have popped the question to someone there.

And on another note, I've just noticed the irony in the title of this post too.

Anonymous said...

a man born and raised in this same India...?

Dont we treat them both the same, magnifying it many fold and ignoring everything else.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

dilip - I suppose it was meant to make it easier for people who use non-blogger sites to identify themselves. But someone didn't think it important that such posts should be clearly distinguishable visually from posts by logged-in blogger users.

I posted a bug report, let's see if any action is taken.

Didn't notice your title. Interesting coincidence.

Anonymous said...

but if you have a picture in your blogger id, it would be distinctive, i think. like the one abi has or dilip has. i dont think you can fake the id with the pic in it.

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