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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Reply to Remember

As the presentation ceremony metamorphosed from the effects of a somber farewell to fevered celebrations three remarks by three different men clung to the back of my mind to be later analyzed in this very post.

"Magic ride", "Outplayed" and "My team".

The first was the way Adam Gilchrist, arguably the finest wicket-keeper batsman of all times, decided to describe his cricketing career. There were no visible signs of emotion fluttering across his face as he bid the final goodbye to his millions of fans and followers around the world unlike the previous time when a choked voice betrayed his softer shades. Though composed and speaking in a matter-of-fact voice there was every bit the sincerity that had marked every minute of his stay on the field all these years. The very words, "magic ride", he chose for the occasion showed the innate humility ingrained in this great sportsman even though he leaves a Himalayan task for his successors to match up to. One of the better examples of a great sports person acknowledging that 'the Game is always bigger than the gamesman'.
The second was how Ricky Ponting decided to put the Indian victory in the tri-series finals. Looking every bit the disappointed leader of a team robbed off its tag of Invincibility his statement was precise at the least and honest at the most. In his words there was a sense of acceptance of the Great Australian Juggernaut feeling the pangs of mortality all of a sudden. That he acknowledged how his team was thoroughly ''outplayed'' in the finals was an attestation to that realization. The very fact that the victory elicited such a comment of resignation from the Australian Captain was also a fitting rejoinder to the viral outbreak of allegations that were made against the Indian players Down Under. Harbhajan could have all the Bhangra he needed to give vent to his sense of hurt and vindication. This was indeed his time.
The knowledge that his scalps included both Symonds and Hayden in such momentous and memorable a victory could only raise the tempo of the revelries, a reminder of divine justice being handed out. The justice seemed to have been furthered with reports that Symonds might be penalized for assaulting a streaker on-field. But, though the score looks settled the Australians would come back strong at Team-India the next time, desperate to salvage soiled pride and reinstate lost honor. Heres wishing them an unhappy comeback and a unsafe recovery.
The third remark was the one that stuck with me for a while and prodded my otherwise inactive brain to put its analysis-lobes into an ill-timed over-drive. The words used by the Indian Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "My Team". Some might say it was a way of expressing the essence of 'the sense of belonging' running through the team at the moment which on the podium found the services of the young captain's lips to manifest itself. To me, it gave off a naked arrogance which could mean one of the two things. One, this pompousness born as an immediate consequence of The Great Victory was here to stay in Indian cricket as an antidote to ages of abject surrenders to the brow-beating of superior teams on and off the field. Two, the apparently innocuous statement had in its garb the peremptory import of an imminent siege. The seige of the Youth-Brigade. Dhoni has proved himself as an able leader with a cucumber composure under pressure situations over the last couple of series. The T-20 World-Cup win and now the Tri-series victory would affirm to his credentials as a resourceful captain in full command of his charges. His insistence on dropping senior players for this series has been vindicated by this imperious victory. But, let's not forget it was none other than SachinTendulkar, the old war-horse of numerous battles, that indefatigable genius of the craft of batting on whose consummate skills the finals were tilted in our favour. Dhoni can very well have his 'say' in getting the team he wants. The young turks hold dazzling promise but one cannot deny the necessity of mentors in shaping them for the future. Its heartening to see Indian aggressiveness getting the better of strong oppositions but I hope the recoil of such shoot-outs are not felt back home.