On why I don't want India to become a dominant Cricket team!
Forget the impact a dominant team has on world cricket, including but not limited to killing of all competition, it is not in India’s interests to become a dominant team.
Dominant teams have limited shelf lives. The West Indies ruled the roost for around 15 years, ditto for Australia. India’s ambitions have to be bigger than that. India not only is the richest cricketing board in the world with the biggest fan following anywhere, it also is sitting on a reservoir of untapped talent. With each passing year, the IPL gives us a glimpse of what we have and and, in turn, shines a spot light on the domestic scene, exposing us to what we could potentially have.
Dominant teams leave behind a void that is difficult to fill. Teams used to winnings create a winning culture. But does that culture necessarily percolate down to the grass roots? Or, like the Romans, do people get so smug with their own success that they take thier eye off the ball, believing that things will take care of themselves? And what about the coming generation? We have already seen, in the Indian context, the numerous comparisons the newbies coming into the team have to deal with, vis a vis the senior members of the team. No one thinks it sacrilegious that a kid making his debut is compared with a veteran of over 150 tests as if it is the most natural thing to do. Now extrapolate this to a dominant team and imagine the multiplication in terms of pressure. Australia, with its numerous spinners who were tried and discarded post Warne, is a manifestation of just that – not only did the newbies have to be as good as Warne, they had to orchestrate wins out of nowhere, a la Warne. Its a pressure they could do without.
Being part of a dominant team makes it harder for players to leave, and for selectors to drop them. This is especially true towards the tail end of the dominance. The West Indian and Australian teams provide enough examples of this. Tough decisions are not made in the hope that prolonging careers may continue the dominance and/or overcome the dip in performance. Prolonged careers ensure that a whole bunch of otherwise deserved players never get a chance to break into the big league and end up becoming the lost generation. The gap between the team and their replacements becomes sufficiently large as the “lost generation” is lost to cricket. Assimilation into the team becomes harder as the generation gap increases and dominance becomes harder to sustain.
What does dominance achieve anyways? Bragging rights for a few years, an inflated sense of worth, followed by years of scorn and talk of comeuppance. On the other hand, longevity creates a system of sustained excellence. Coupled with the knowledge that the team is fallible, it keeps the team honest. It also allows for constant regeneration – the ambition being simple – win more than you lose.
India’s aim has to be for creating a dynasty, not dominance.
I would much rather have a team that has to do the hard yards consistently and win over 5 days but wins more than it loses than a team that blows away the opposition in 3. And, mindful of what we were, what we are, and what we could potentially be, its not asking for much at all!