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Interestingly, in this case, it may well be all three. All genuine cricket fans will particularly hope for the second. Just as post the 1983 world cup, the commercial realities for cricket changed in India, maybe 2007 will mark some kind of full circle. This kind of severe jolt for advertisers and “investors” will perhaps make them look elsewhere to milk commercial opportunity from. Unless the 3rd scenario above supersedes everything.

The vulgarity of money becoming the end-all of existence has hit cricket big-time, and this untimely exit of India (ironically the poorest country to play cricket, along with Bangladesh) will hopefully shift the goalposts a little (no pun originally intended).

The analysis of India’s debacle in the Indian media quintessentially misses the main problem. It is so downright stupid to suggest retirements and axings, without a clue as to who the replacements could be. Isn’t it obvious that the problem is not lack of talent, but a shortcoming in the mind? Look at the triumphant moments of the core of this team in tests and one-dayers – would the landmark 2001 series against Australia been won with this fear of failure? India would have lost 3-0 with that same team, if they had not generated every ounce of passion from their beings and fought Australian fire with Indian brimstone. Australia has probably brought out the best in India (though, not in ODIs since the 2003 final) because their passion was contagious.

This team’s batsmen were reined in both against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. With the talent they have, and the form they keep displaying off and on, why this ridiculous fear of failure? Why was Sehwag not stepping out and counter-attacking Muralitharan when he was bowling round-the-wicket? He looked like the old, attacking Sehwag in every other way. Could Rahul Dravid’s presence at the other end have something to do with it? Ultimately, my personal analysis is Rahul Dravid has been a very poor influence as captain. It was apparent in South Africa 3 months ago – the defensiveness and negativity that marked Dravid as an ODI player pre-1999, never really went away entirely. It is to his great credit as a truly great player that he channelised those very traits more creatively, and adjusted his game to overcome the ill-effects of those inherent qualities. But as a captain, all these qualities re-emerged, especially in times of strife. And, even though he had the immense talent to overcome them as a player, his team-mates quite simply did not. It is this negative mindset that has reduced the team to this – and the simple solution is to give the captaincy to someone more positive. Since Ganguly may have disqualified himself forever with his 2004 behaviour, Sehwag or Yuvraj would be the logical choices. Let us just hope it is not the gloriously overrated Tendulkar – that would be the worse thing to happen to Indian cricket.

As far as the shocking developments on the Bob Woolmer tragedy go (with it now being confirmed a murder), the media (characteristically) seems to be barking up the wrong tree with the whole match-fixing angle. Why would anyone want to go through so much trouble to remove him on that score? Regardless of what evidence (if any) Woolmer would have garnered or stumbled upon, ultimately it would be his word against somebody else’s. The Law hasn’t been able to punish anyone yet. Despite so much mud being slung, the likes of Wasim Akram, Ajay Jadeja and Kapil Dev are still esteemed media commentators. What damage would Woolmer’s revelations possibly do?

It is far likelier that Woolmer had an altercation with someone in his room, and in a fit of uncontrolled anger, this happened. Mushtaq Ahmed’s bizarre uncontrolled crying fit in front of the camera when the Jamaican PM came to offer condolences might offer some clues. But the chances that it is an insider incident are higher. Let us hope that at least time tells.

 



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