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The biggest truths and the naked untruth - Lessons from the World Cup
by Suresh Menon
Apr 12, 2011

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By Suresh Menon

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The World Cup is over, the last six has been hit, the last mobile phone sold, and the last hair on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s head shaved. The players have it easy. All they need to do is turn up in 40-degree heat after some hours of travel, and play through a hundred overs. The media don’t have it so easy. They have to sit in air-conditioned rooms and make sense of everything. They have to deconstruct, to find the narrative, to contextualise. What is the message from the World Cup? Here are a few:

 

Fallouts of India’s victory:

1. We will no longer have to watch footage of the 1983 World Cup till we have Madan Lal’s celebration coming out of our ears.

2. We won’t have Team 1983 dusted and brought out of the mothballs every four years to tell us how team work was the secret and how they were inspired.

3. Cars and soaps and credit cards and phones and toothpastes and liquor will come with the guarantee of millions – the millions that are paid to the cricketers, that is.

 

Most promising response: Karnataka Chief Minister promises a plot of land to the Bangalore players. Then realising there are no Bangalore players he promises land to every player and coach. Then realising he has no land to offer (unless he gives up some of his own), he promises every rupees 25 lakh. Watch this space – perhaps by the end of the week the offer might be whittled down to two T-shirts with his face on them and a gift voucher worth Rs 50.

Most tosses won in a World Cup final: Two, and this record will stand to the name of Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara who won the toss the first time, had the result annulled and then won the re-toss. One way of beating the record is to nominate Jeff Crowe match referee for the 2015 final. This time he didn’t hear the call, next time he won’t see the coin.

Most diplomatic statement: “Indians are not large-hearted” by Pakistani skipper Shahid Afridi. This was followed inevitably by the standard excuse of the loose-tongued: “I was misquoted.” Difficult to sustain when the statement was made on live television, but Afridi is known, like the Man from La Manch, to dream the impossible dream.

Biggest Non-event: Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international century. Like obituaries written in advance, hosannas were sung and special editions were planned in anticipation, but now we will simply have to wait.

Least Relevant bit of Information from the Commentary Box: The pattern-seeking, comfort-giving commentator told us that when India last won the World Cup, their captain’s name began with the letter ‘D’. And that the Board President then and now, are both from Nagpur. He missed the most significant detail, however: that Amitabh Bachchan’s initials were the same in 1983 and in 2011. What a coincidence!

The Naked Untruth: Rumour is that once the model threatened to run around in the nude, the players took out a collection and bought her clothes that are as opaque as the cricket board. “We can’t hold up fake trophies and then be expected to watch fake body parts,” a player was nearly quoted as saying.

The best things they didn’t say:

1. The World Cup is good preparation for the IPL.

2. Tonight, at the stroke of midnight (give or take), when the rest of the world sleeps, India awaken to a new dawn...

3. I have been carried on India’s shoulders so long, it is time I was carried on Virat Kohli’s.

4. It doesn’t matter who wins so long as we have a good match.

 

 
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