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The writer in you

Koi pressure nahin!
Sushil Nachnani - 5 December 2002

Some advertisements currently airing on television show Shah Rukh Khan talking about the World Cup, saying, "Haar-jeet tho lagee rahtee hain, koi pressure nahin!" Of course, this is followed by a shot of a small World Cup behind him to negate the statement; unfortunately, with Indian cricket, that statement may just be taken at face value.

Whether it is the BCCI or the team, the "Koi pressure nahin" principle holds true. For example, it was not even lunch on the first day of the second Test between India and the West Indies, yet the spinners were already on in tandem. The ball was turning, and there was already variable bounce in the wicket. This in spite of the fact that, a few days before the game, there was a press-conference in which the ground authorities and other BCCI officials were smiling and talking about a "sporting, bouncy wicket" that would help both the batsman and the bowler. There was similar talk before the Mumbai Test, and in that game too the West Indian team had their spinners operating before lunch on a dead wicket.

I am sure the naivest of the naive will not expect any accountability for this failure to create a sporting wicket. Even the suggestion seems quite ridiculous. In fact, after the 2-0 series victory, I would not have been surprised if some kind of award had been handed out to responsible officials. The "chalta hain" ("anything goes") attitude permeates every facet of Indian cricket.

What makes it sadder is that this is also the attitude of many fans. An average fan is more than happy with the performance of the Indian team, and I think the media has played an important role in that. As a matter of habit, I read around five newspapers a day, and each one makes me realise the paucity of good sports writing in India. It is bad enough that most match reports sound like a collection of random sentences written at various times in the day with no effort to build a cohesive story. But what makes it really sad is that even so-called expert columns and previews seem to be oblivious of reality.

Almost every newspaper in their preview of the second and third Tests against the West Indies talked about how Indian cricket has seen in a golden era in the past few months. Golden era? We lost a Test series to one of the weakest West Indian teams ever and barely drew a series with an English side lacking top-class talent and moreover hit by injury to key players. Right before that we almost lost a Test to Zimbabwe in India after the rain- gods had saved us from what would have been a drawn or lost Test series against England in India. This is our definition of a golden era?

The only person who has pointed this out is Sunil Gavaskar, possibly the last Indian captain and player to understand strategy in cricket and the only person in the media to realise that one-day cricket is not Test cricket. Gavaskar has also pointed out that Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble may be over the hill and that it is time to look for replacements. But if the general belief is that Indian cricket is in a golden era how can we expect any chopping and changing that will bring the Kartiks, Pathans and Salvis into the team? The fact that Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh have come from the under-19 team and done so well should suggest to that there may be more gems around in this country of one billion.

India has been in the "good-nucleus" stage for a very long time now. More than five years ago, when Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly had first shown their capabilities in England and Sachin Tendulkar was on song, there was talk about how India had the core of a very good team. Now that talk is about Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh in the Test arena and Yuvraj and Kaif in the ODIs.

Yet India continues to win games on paper and lose them on the field. My dream is for an Indian team that consistently beats weaker teams like the West Indies - home and abroad - and can go to the home of Test-champions Australia and beat them there. A team that has a savvy captain who utilises the abilities of all his players with imagination and planning. A team that has a couple of spectacular fielders at least, and not one poor fielder. A team that does not have prima-donna bowlers like Kumble and Srinath, who spend more time glaring at their own teammates than at the opposition.

Some of the problem lies in the expectations of the fans and the media. I don't know if they are low to start with, but they do seem to lower to match the results quite easily. Thus the richest board in the world is incapable of successfully creating sporting wickets. A country of one billion and yet the same 11-12 players continue to represent the country, regardless of performance. They are ably supported and encouraged by the attitude and mediocre nature of the media.

Remember, the underlying principle is "Koi pressure nahin." Nothing shows this more clearly than the comments of the garrulous commentator Sanjay Manjrekar. As commentator after commentator made derogatory comments about the wickets in the first two Tests, Manjrekar was toeing the party line talking about how happy he was with the BCCI for at least taking some action by relaying the pitches! Never mind if both Mumbai and Chennai were actually two centres with some pace and bounce in the wicket. But as long as there is action, that should satisfy us. As long as Kumble does well on doctored spin-friendly tracks, that should satisfy us. As long as India wins sporadically, that should satisfy us. "Haar-jeet tho lagee rahtee hain!"

The views expressed above are solely those of the guest contributor and are carried as written, with only minor editing for grammar, to preserve the original voice. These contributed columns are solely personal opinion pieces and reflect only the feelings of the guest contributor. Their being published on does not amount to an endorsement by CricInfo's editorial staff of the opinions expressed.

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