A lot has been spoken about the Indian cricket team’s successful tour to Sri Lanka. But in spite of the team’s thumping win, the proverbial question about its overall cricketing supremacy still remains. While on paper the win for the Indian cricket team in Sri Lanka probably does mean a lot, how much of the win actually transcribes to reality? How much of impact do team rankings and position carry, as compared to the tangible statistical visibility of poor performances by the team in cricketing arenas overseas? Does winning in Sri Lanka really matter when the team still struggles to maintain poise and respectability in England and Down Under?
And amid this existing chaos, there’s a new terminology that seems to have risen now – the cricketing season. Where other sports follow a strict regimen in terms of timing and yearly schedule, cricket doesn’t exactly do that. So where exactly does the concept of seasonality of the sport come into the picture? Agreed, that whilst touring England or the Caribbean, a particular climatic season is taken into account, but it’s not as though the national cricket team keeps visiting these two nations, year-in and year-out. The whole paradigm of discussion about a cricketing season makes a mockery of the currently prevailing trend. Maybe the trend in itself has come to be classified as a season reckoning the motley mix of IPL, a few assorted overseas tournaments, the Champions League T20 and then some home tournaments that sum up a particular calendar year of cricket playing.
The focus however isn’t about the number of tournaments played – both home and away, but on the performance scale of the players themselves. The new it player for the Indian cricket team might be Virat Kohli, but the sustainability of his it factor still remains in dark.
Today is Kohli, yesterday was Rohit Sharma – who knows who’ll gain the ‘it’ laurel tomorrow. The irony however is, once these players cease to contribute at a steady and on an every-match-in-every-tournament basis, their indispensability turns into redundancy. Of course, while this isn’t to say that non-performers be given a spot in the national squad, the teeny fact that one person contributing each and every single time, in a team of 11 members, sounds really ludicrous to grasp and accept.
As a cricketing nation, India has always been fickle. This problem of lack of consistency is plaguing players today as it used to before. The resultant lack of dependability in crunch situations compounds the team woes, as the apportioning of blame passes on right from the players to the selection committee, right up to the coach himself. Captains and team members may change, selection committees may comprise of newer members, but the wry nature of the cricketing specter refuses to change irrespective of the so-called change in times.
In terms of setting parameters, quantity has always been favored by the cricketing realm in India whereas in many other countries, quality has played its part. And as ad nauseam as it sounds, for a country boasting of several world-class cricketers – both in the past and in the present, it’s a sorry state of affairs to see the team’s results hover from the precipice of utmost domination in one tour to complete subjugation in the next.
And probably this is where the governing system has failed in the nurturing of the sport. As compared to other sports, even as cricket seems to rule the roost in India, it hasn’t remained impervious to problems. The usage of cricketers as pawns to mint money, treating them as machines without any thought to their fitness – both mental and physical, and then leaving these professionals in a lurch when they become susceptible to injuries and ill-health, has become second-nature to the business that defines Indian cricket today. And just as no efficient business house would put their stake behind a failing enterprise, the day the collective profitability aspect of cricket comes to a grinding halt, its relevance and importance would cease to exist. Not quite unlike a former glorious game, now regarded as a national shame.