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Indian cricket & it's over-the-top hysteria
by Gulu Ezekiel
Dec 24, 2006
The amount of abuse captain Rahul Dravid and coach Greg Chappell have had to endure over the last six months has been astonishing.

It must have made life pretty miserable for them as India were trounced 4-1 in the West Indies, lost in the prelims of the Champions Trophy in India and then were whitewashed 4-0 in South Africa.

Of course all this was in ODIs with their record in Test matches being much better, exemplified by the fantastic victory at Johannesburg.

Indian cricket fans have a notoriously short memory. It was only six months ago that India won a Test series in the West Indies for the first time in 35 years. And now they have won a Test match there for the first time since India first toured South Africa in 1992.

Since Chappell took over as coach in October last year India have won seven out of 16 Test matches and lost just two. Yet this all seems to be forgotten in the hysteria over results in ODIs.

Here too it should be remembered that in the first six months under Chappell and Dravid India enjoyed a fantastic run, winning 18 of their first 24 games.

It has been downhill all the way since then and the same young players who played such a big part in that golden run and were feted by fans and the media alike as the future of Indian cricket-Irfan Pathan, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh (who is injured)-are now out of favour. Such are the vagaries of cricket.

Still, I found it shocking to read some of the comments following the triumph at the Wanderers, largely due to the bowling efforts of S. Sreesanth and the batting of the so-called veterans.

If Indian cricket is still dependant on Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble, it should be cause for alarm rather than jubilation and gloating as we are seeing today.

Chairman of the selectors Dilip Vengsarkar's comment that there is no ready-made young talent ready to step in to their shoes rings true and should also ring the alarm bells.

It should also be gracefully accepted that the enforced period out of the Indian team has done a world of good to Ganguly and Zaheer Khan. As Ravi Shastri rightly commented on TV, it has meant they are back refreshed and recharged and with that fire in the belly again which was lacking when they were dropped last year.

And remember, it was Laxman who had been dumped by the previous regime for the 2003 World Cup, something that still rankles him. Kumble too was dropped for that final in Johannesburg by the same pair.

To read the comments of a well-known columnist in a Kolkata daily that Dravid was "possessed" of Chappell's spirit and that the Test victory will help 'exorcise' him of that spirit is in pretty bad taste. We are talking of cricket here, not some life-or-death issue. Perhaps the writer is simply pandering to the emotional needs of his target audience.

Some moderation and perspective though is surely the need of the hour instead of this over-the-top hysteria that accompanies both victory and defeat in the realms of Indian cricket. Or is that asking for the moon?
 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
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