This piece is not about cricket. In all games, champions choke. But India’s cricketing powers did not pause to draw a breath before sacking the batting coach as if the bowling was superlative. One of India’s greatest sportsmen, MS Dhoni, faces being dropped though the jury is still out about his batting position, and for which Yuvraj Singh blasted the coach. Virat Kohli, hailed the world’s best batsman, tweeted, “We gave everything we had.” We didn’t.
We simply assumed that winning is our right; an attitude neither the English nor the Kiwi team took. “Have to accept this and move forward. Jai Hind!” Virat posted and moved to sightseeing and selfies with his glam missus in London. His rival Rohit Sharma instead left for home after tweeting, “We failed to deliver as a team when it mattered.” Many Indians give sub-standard performances or fail because we expect so little of ourselves and are satisfied with small.
India’s Olympics medal count went up from zero in 1992 to just six in 2012—a pathetic ratio to its 133.92 crore population. The best-performing Olympic countries are the US, Russia, Kenya, Jamaica, Ethiopia and the UK. Kenya, Jamaica and Ethiopia are hardly powerful economies. India cannot achieve what it deserves until Indians stop sucking up to the omnipotent forces that control the institutions—the Gandhis still dominate the moribund Congress.
India’s influential cricket coach is a member of the entrenched establishment that favours retired players. Sporting history proves that a successful coach need not be a player. When Arrigo Sacchi took over the AC Milan football club, he told critics who questioned his lack of playing experience, “A jockey doesn’t have to have been born a horse.” Many rookie politicians who won on a wave and became ministers, turned out to be performers.
But India’s jockeys are sweating to control a gigantic beast—a population explosion the country can ill-afford that limits opportunities and frustrates enterprise. Faced with such great odds, the masses redefine heroes to redeem their failure and bask in vicarious glamour. Kohli is India’s highest-grossing sportsperson, whose worth doubled to `228.09 crore in 2018.
Far removed from this razzle-dazzle is the real India, where education and health sectors are in a dismal condition in spite of the legacies of Ramanujan and Dhanvantari; the Armed Forces are under-equipped though India has won all wars since 1965; caste and sectarian prejudice claim lives and relationships regardless of the contributions of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and BR Ambedkar.
The hunger to win is the first step of evolution and prosperity comes only by keeping on winning. Sports is a living metaphor of society. Tennis great John McEnroe said, “We all choke. Winners know how to handle choking better than losers.” Indian cricket choked in Manchester. True to template, it is handling its choking better than the winners. This doesn’t bode well for the current losers.