The world cup is days away. Its in England. And the men in blue are far from settled. Batting line up far from systemically crystallized. Middle order so arranged that by fall of wicket number 5, far away from the grounds, even on paper, it gets difficult to find traces of formal batting. And by fall of two, specially if it includes Virat Kohli, it pretty much projects memories of the 90s. Old cricket fans often get reminiscence of Ajay Jadeja or Robin Singh or the combo of Yuvraj and Dravid, leaving behind a lack of sense of assurance when things are not going well.

The thrill of scripting come backs has been evidently off the radar for quite a long time.

Except for the top three- which is very fixed- the whole set of batting gives a glimpse of unstable variable tail with little certainty. And then the main stem of finishing profile, of that of holding the innings, of manoeuvering small anchoring of breezy pace, like those duties looked after by Suresh Raina, also finishing role like those of Dhoni’s himself, those romantic virtues of cricket, specially out of one dayers, that’s missing. And add to this agony of a batting culture country in a run hungry nation. Cricket is not all the same anymore.

It used to be  a game of brains and intellect. Of passions and purity. And character.

No other game ever has been subject to test of Character and Endurance Certificate as Cricket. Not to miss 8 Hours of machine loaded single advertising realty, which is like single long magnet of customers. No game ever produced as much commerce. And may I tell you another greatness of this game. They say the game’s greatest – Sachin Tendulkar- he was God. He is indeed. Not the God of cricket but the God who made Indians need Electricity . That is Cricket. It has been a game which has also produced real authentic Gods.

In the world, if you needed a model code of Conduct and Integrity and Life and Lifestyle, or should you be seeking answer to the question as to how humans should live, should you quest for an ideal replica for humanity in practice, or say, the way 1 kg is the mass of platinum-iridium alloy kept in SI Units’ museum in Paris, what would be the same for one unit of Humanity, let me break this piece of beauty. The day you’ll define the SI unit of Humanity in Practice, in the end the last standard you’ll conclude to like to keep an alloy of Kumble-Dravid. And like Coulomb (SI unit of Electric Charge), the SI Unit of Human Conduct will be Kumble (after Anil Kumble). This came from Cricket. That because of the virtue of Cricket. Thanks to intricacies of the game.

Additionally, its also a better lifestyle game than Golf, and way more of handling of passion than Basketball. (On a personal note, I feel, cricket never gots its due appreciation, because it was invented by Brits, who have historically been opposite of Sport conduct). But if there was an evaluation for completeness of a sport, measuring for social or fitness or  awareness or strategy or management or just any human attribute at subject of test, this game would come right at the top. Even by the count of ATPs used in a game, if that were an indicator, even then, it must be cricket. Its a beautiful game indeed.

And what has been Jeff Bezos to Retail, or Steve Jobs to computing, in very tangible  likelihoods, you’re going to have an Anil Kumble to Machine Intelligence and Education. What was Steve Jobs to Personal Computing, An Anil Kumble to Education, I can bet my life over such a prediction. The phenomenon because of cricket. And also the conviction in this belief – because of Cricket. That is cricket.

A game of Science and human conduct. And of lots of brains. An intense game which inspires engineering. And a game which has had huge impact on affairs of the world. Its a very beautiful game.

I wonder why I’m so overselling this game. Perhaps may be, because I also see that if everybody played cricket, nobody ever would have had Skin-cancer. Humans would have come to know about holes in ozone the very day they happened. The Humans would also have never had invented Acid Rains. Neither would have ever been Soil Erosion if they played cricket, if everybody played cricket, if it was a cult.  Genuinely beautiful. As beautiful as impactful.

Which is no more as beautiful. As it used to be.

But India happens to be one of the best in the trade. In 170 odd days from now on is to happen its Men’s World Cup, which is reasonably fierce.  And like usual, known for handicapped management, Indians, have screwed it again. By poor management. By poor succession planning. A pristine case of how Indians lose. Signature display of  Indians’ affinity to Mediocrity. Indians are a laid-back bunch of humans who aspire of mediocrity and hunt for superiority in that inferiority of mediocrity. How do they pull off this phenomenon so widely, this case is live demonstration of that. Its as much a subject of cricketing nuances as much of trade and life in practice.

Let me take you to this by design.

That, India and Indians are averse to transparent meritocracy is no new secret. Their father was Gandhi, that alone determined the DNA from the onset. Almost invariably, in every field and every institution, top stakeholders are always rigged, people functions which is supposed to maintain human succession planning in institutions and organisations, Indians have universal reservations of unfair practices. Handicapped of  transparency, as elsewhere, so in cricket, the lead of National Selecting panel (MSK Prasad) himself has neither performed much at the international level, nor has had any other history of team building or leading credentials. In short he has never been a public father who has nurtured National Kids or Institutional Kids  for that matter. He’s there simply because he’s there. Not many other supporting the reasons why at all should he be there. Not even moral reasons, forget the technical. But he’s still there.

Same with the hierarchy upwards and on wards. Until the ownership of BCCI. Whether BCCI is about India, or is it a private body of cricketing fans ? Or is it an sporting asset belonging to a Sovereign Nation? What is cricket about or what is BCCI about? Who owns the BCCI ?  Whom does BCCI report to ? And How does it integrate to Sovereign Identity to Republic of India? Nobody knows. Administration has had a democractic orientation, while has the reporting  been historically swinging between Political heavy weights and Political Heavy weights. So it never became an institution. So never did it have consistency. So the game!

I think the only good thing that happened on a cricket field, was Sachin Tendulkar affixing the tricolor on his helmet on his own. I think the idea was pitched by Devang Mehta (there was one Y2K Hero of the world who restructured India in the 90s who also died mysteriously in 2001) .

Luckily, for Indians, that became the day the Indians started needing the need of electricity. And Tendulkar kept the promise quite handsomely until the December of 2011. Just in a span of decade, Tamilians became Indians, Bengalis became Indians, Ghatis became Indians, Tribals became Indians, North East became Indians, Telugu became Indian, Bihari became Indian, Punjabi became Indian. So much so that even Muslims became Indians, albeit on some days-  who on most of the rest of live like Muslims.  (We mean – if you ask a Man what is he?  On 90% of occasions, he’d answer he’s a human.  Ask the same to a Muslim, what is he ? In most of the cases the answer will be He’s a Muslim. I’ve met only five who said he’s a human. One went to IIT Kanpur & one led DRDO of them) This might be phenomenon, perhaps because he needs to pray 5 times a day, but even these kind of Muslims, the least educated of human tribes as a mathematical number, even these became Indians. Universal Identity, Universal Account Number, Universal GPS, Universal Bitcoin, Universal Facebook, Universal Google, Universal Amazon, Universal Bharat Pay, Universal Solar, they all became a phenomenon. So much so that, even Hindustan Lever had to drop Hindustan to come properly as Unilever. This would never have been a possibility in India.

Let me show Indians have lived. How they talk and how they live.

India is Indira, Indira is India. Somebody said.

India is the peninsula south to Himalayas, nobody said. India is the Sub-continent south to Himalayas, India is the subcontinent where continents merged, India is the sub-continent reporting to Himalayas where continents merge, nobody said.

Work for Tatas, Invest with Ambanis. Somebody said.

Work for India, Invest in Indians, Invest in future Dhirubhais, Let the world invest the future into India. Nobody said.

Today, India has a brand as Incredible India. India is today one of the five largest defense budgets, and back to the position of lighthouse to World’s maritime, 75% of World’s freight logistics happens under the watch of you know whom! You have Chennai holding loose ends between Dubai and Bangkok.

So much so for the universal identification for a piece of cloth- a logo- the tricolor. The game spiralled into a glue to stick staggered mix of humans, but never could build an institution. The asset became a commodity. And hence now the commodity subject to what commodities undergo- Volatility and Crest and Troughs. It never could become an institution.

And a what a funny thing. The case went to Supreme Courts as well. But as the fact is that they’re Indians. Handicapped of building institutions, they couldn’t even articulate constitutional ownership nor a ready reckoner for Institutional Building. So its disintegrating.

And in a span of 170 days is the World Cup. Where Indians have designed the way how to lose out a all equipped resource pool, only for the lack of institution building propensities, for the lack of the skills of governance.  And once again no lessons learned even from the most recent churn of the 90s.

A team game of 11 players, of 11 different roles, India has only 6 properly filled roles. For the rest five, a subject to disorder, leading to an appearance that a 11 player team stands for only three. Only three full time players, 8 part time, clueless and mission less.

After Tendulkar, after Ganguly, after Dravid, after Yuvraj, after Dhoni himself, the slots should have been succeeded by institutionalized development. And what a luck that they always had Sehwags, Gambhirs, Rainas, Rahanes, Uthappas, Badanis to fill in to rotate capibilities. Today, Kohli alone looks a one handed substitute of Dravid-Yuvraj, a Tendulkar at the top in Rohit Sharma, and no Raina, no Dhoni (despite having Dhoni himself), no Ganguly, no Sehwag, and many more the nos.

And in this cobweb of illiterate governance, in the centre is Dhoni himself, who’s also himself a very  very skillful thinker of the game. After Ajay Jadeja, a Yuvraj, Ganguly had to rear, and he reared, but after Yuvraj whom ? Dhoni did nothing. Kohli for filling in for Tendulkar, then what about Yuvraj and Dravid? What about the computer engineer of the team, what about Kumbles and Srinaths who’d steer the game with the pace of technical world to keep it contemporary? And what about Gangulys who’d stand for protecting integrity in a vulnerable world ? Nobody ever had answers.

The after effects as you get to see. You’ve Sreesanths and Pandyas and Vijay (in affair with colleague’s wife) and Rahuls coming out in quick succession.

Its painful to see this game in such deep misery. And there’s no way its to return back to its interim golden glory, which in itself was also very fluctuating. When it was intellectually a beauty, it never aced the summit of pinnacle, and when it did, until then the soul was lost already. Thanks to shoddy management all round the corners. An asset of identity symbol ransacked to become a commodity.

And to historical imbalance, roles not matured, absence of succession planning, Dhoni himself has relegated himself as Nayan Mongia of the past. Very Useful, Very Indispensable, but not of use for certain success. Beyond his own best, and too beyond to glue all. By the fag end of 2015, he should have been in the shoes of Tendulkar in terms of dressing room presence. Neither a Kumble shunted of for being visionary and excellent at the same time.

Of the Cricket World Cup, in most likelihoods, it should be England winning the 2019 Edition. United Kingdom is in shambles, slotted to grow less than 1.5% over the next decade, pulverized with uncertainties of BREXIT, they’ve nothing to bind the nation, nothing to stick to rally around for a common identity, hence no common goal, all mired into terror as well, they’d desperately need one. And the coincidence that all other cricketing teams of the world have in general gone on decline to match the maximum capacities of England, I don’t think there’s better evidence of the game of Cricket being fixed. If a commodity called “Geo-politics” exists, this must be one of them, I feel. We can connect the dots.

But the pain remains. The Game of Cricket is not all the romance and intellect it used to be. And not at all the scientific temper that it stands for. And Dhoni the new Nayan Mongia. Useful but not good enough.

 

  • -A disheartened Cricket Fan

 

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