Often a question arises - why can't a country of 1 billion people produce sportsmen of supreme quality who can compete on a world stage? Even after a huge amount of money which is being pumped in, the quality of sportsmen is not on a uphill graph unlike most other sports loving nations. Somewhere, something is definitely lacking, something is not quite upto the mark!
Sports is an indispensable facette of any Indian individual. But sadly the two leaders in this genre (read Hockey and Cricket) are on a rapid decline. Well, the downhill graph of hockey could have been attributed to lack of funds and nationwide coverage earlier, but with the likes of Indian Premier League coming up, this hasn't been the case for the past few years. All the dailies, news and various sports channels are studded with the news regarding IPL. On the other hand, cricket is definitely not suffering from any of the obvious factors, be it lack of funds or coverage. Perhaps an overdose of these has cause its undoing!
I didn't watch India play Bangladesh, but was tuned to the online commentary, courtesy Cricinfo. It was indeed painful and disturbing to see the latter as being favorites for most part of the match, till a couple of sensible innings settled the draw in India's favor. I'm definitely not undermining Bangladesh, but the vigor is missing with folks wearing the Indian colors. Half of the 11 playing there aren't sure of their future and the other have been maligned pretty badly by the media. Not having the mind in the place won't be too difficult in that case, I guess! The proud champions of the '83 saga are being found wanting..seriously wanting! Bruised and battered by their World Cup performance, they need some kind of an enigma to get them back up and standing on the world stage.
The situation now is pretty much the same it was when India folded out of the competition in the '92 season down under. They suffered badly and with the likes of Kapil Dev bidding adieu to the game, Indian cricket seemed to have entered a dark tunnel. It was a tough journey, but then the flash was provided by Sachin Tendulkar, a player who single-handedly turned the fortunes of Indian Cricket. No, I'm not talking about him winning games for India, but what his contribution to the Indian Cricket has been much more than that. He pulled the crowds back into the grounds, and made the entire cricketing world talk about this genius, thereby putting India back on the charts of World Cricket.
A spark was provided then, and a similar one is needed now. Winning is required, yes.. but what's more required is someone to pull the crowds back, to infuse new interest into this game. I was particularly excited about Manoj Tiwari, he looked to be someone who might have belonged to the real genre, but with him getting injured, it couldn't have been bad. There are no doubts in my mind that India is going to win the series, and may be a few Indian batsmen might hit some serious runs, but Indian Cricket definitely..definitely needs much more than that!
I really don't want to delve into aspects like people becoming sports ministers inspite of them probably never stepped into an atheletes shoes. No point trying to find solutions to problems which would be deemed as not viable.
Thankfully, India has reached the semi-finals of the Azlan Shah hockey, I'll be definitely tuned to that. Its been long since our stick players have done something, which is worthwhile mentioning.