You may say the World Cups are held to crown the ‘champion’ of the world for a duration of 4 years. But I would say it’s more than that. For the (extra)ordinary men they find it the place to market the sport, product and nowadays even the sportsperson. Look at this, after the recent soccer world cup, the interest in game surely sored up in India. Many youngsters from affluent families have taken up the sport. Similarly the little heard of players like Forlan, Suarez have become hot picks for the rich clubs.
I started watching the cricket’s world cup from the year ’99 when the world cup happened in England. To be frank, I bothered only about Indian matches. India losing or winning was greeted with same passion. In India the sport gained mass publicity when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup in ’83. Cricket to India became what Football was to Brazil. For a nation that was held down by the shackles of License Raj, Cricket became a common, middle class man’s quick visa to fame and riches. But cricket couldn’t get over the typical Indian mindset where the individual star value, regionalism and connections gained prominence over performance and talent in team selection.
Again we Indians took it on our stride, as we do when we hear of scams. Indian defeats were greeted with as much as passion as the rare victories. The team that of a bunch, not even fit for the domestic matches. The fielding was the most abysmal. Running between the wickets was a joke. If you have forgotten I would help you to recollect a few names- Venkatesh Prasad, Sidhu, Nayan Mongia, T Kumaran, Kanithkar, the list goes on. But still we considered them the favorites in every World Cup.
Things would have gone on in the same way, had not the Cronje scandal hit the world. The old guard were sent off unceremoniously. Soon Ganguly took over and Indian cricket meant business. He brought on some of the most talented young ones across the country and stuck on with them even in tough times. Soon we started winning even abroad. The white men realized we didn’t chicken out on short pitched deliveries. Ganguly should have been given the farewell he deserved. It’s my opinion he was grossly mistreated.
The world over, cricket was changing. The sponsors wanted the game to last the full quota. The sporting pitches started dying out. The batsmen started indulging more and more in extravagant shots. Then the T-20 came on and cricket was not the same anymore. I started losing the interest in the sport. There was no more predictability and a few mindless strokes could change the whole game. The technical brilliance gave way to bravado.
Now I have reduced my interest in the game to browsing through the scoreboard. It seems the people are more interested in the IPL that follows the WC. I hope Sachin overcomes the final huddle and walks down the horizon with pride and bat held high. Still the single biggest error that kept India from the final destination still remains- awkward team selection. We have taken a injury prone pace bowler, another one who performs once in a blue moon, a batsman who has no idea what fitness is all about and a spinner who hasn’t played for a long time.
The perplexing question is absence of Sreesanth , although there is no logical explanation to it. May be he brings down the morale in dressing room. And we Mallus are glad that we are spared from watching the antics of his mother in TV (in case he does well).
Even with all its flaws, I would want Team India to do very well.