By Sunil Dang, Editor-in-Chief
Any sports enthusiast would have gorged on a great Sunday evening feast, watching two epic events play out at short distance from each other, on the soil of a nation that not only gave us the Gentleman’s game but also the rules & the pitches to play on. For England, becoming the world champions, first time ever on the strength of a rule written donkeys’ years ago & the outcome being aptly described by the Kiwi Skipper as a loss to the “uncontrollables” needs a special mention here. Our salutations to the gracious Kiwi, Kane Williamson, the great ambassador, who made more friends & admirers even in defeat, so technical; Nonetheless this world cup shall go down in history as the most remarkable one that had drama, intrigue, entertainment & a victory that both teams could justifiably claim theirs. This is one game that was won both by the rule book & the twenty two blokes fighting it out on the cricket battlefield.
Not far away, the mood was further lit up by a brilliant exhibition of flawless tennis that set up a new paradigm of excellence, perseverance & steely resolve. There would be few occasions in history when sports connoisseurs would get to see a repeat of such marvelous expression of sheer class, grit & focus that justified every minute of the never ending, final encounter between the two living legends of the game; Serbian Novak vs. Swiss Federer. What a game! We owe both of you immense gratitude.
Ironically the two encounters dished out a lesson or two for our very own Demi – God like cricketers in particular & the sports administration in general. While one could see the hunger & absolute devotion of the two finalist teams, our bunch seemed to have got lost in overgenerous adulation & cult like status accorded to them by the cricket mad nation. Almost anything that can be defined as remotely exceptional is immediately defined “GREAT” in India, leaving the ‘knighted bloke’ to milk the status till he is forced into an unceremonious exile. In India the concept of accountability & timely retirements of cricketers is as nascent as a no moon night. Some selections as weird as picking three wicketkeepers, giving an unduly long rope to the ailing warrior Dhoni & fiddling with the slots too often coupled with a “cool guy attitude” cost India dearly in this world cup. Surely the COA needs to be more pro-active than just maintaining the account books & shoring up the BCCI treasury. Will BCCI care to listen?
A natural corollary of what I have expressed in the foregoing comments, should be fixing a minimum target of the medals tally that India should aim for in 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Who else but the present dispensation can be trusted for their highly effective number crunching skills that should set a ‘mission 50’ to begin with for various sporting disciplines? Our sports minister may take a leaf out of his senior mathematician Amit Shah’s book & get going in right earnest to fulfill such an achievable & desired objective. That would be highly encouraging for the budding sportspersons of our nation & putting India in the league of great sporting nations.
I am equally disturbed by the unnecessary touchy attitude of the North Block mandarins. Among many other firsts, that this government can be credited or discredited for, the recent order of the finance ministry, restricting entry of Journalists to its corridors citing security issues is another uncharitable move that could have serious implications. This is unwarranted given that such a move raises more doubts about the sincerity, commitment & oath of the people, operating within the near impregnable edifices than to conveniently feed your ‘doubting thomases’ for no plausible rhyme or a reason. It would be appropriate for the FM & her advisors to lift any such embargo & allow the media to carry on with their duty of recceing & reporting, lest the large scale boycott by the press over customary dinner furthered the mistrust between the “watchdogs” & the ruling dispensation.
Memories are for keeps & I feel privileged for those collected on the Sunday gone by. I now look forward to a personal pilgrimage to Kartarpur Sahib, with Pakistan having acceded to most of India’s demands on this front.