Chronicles of Cricket Aggression

Team IndiaThe current Indian cricket team or should I say, people who play cricket for India, has been hailed as one that has come of age in the international ring, with at least one victory in test series, and the odd win. The aggression instilled in the youngsters in the side is bursting at the seams, and experts think, that this bursting is not necessarily one that is required. The aggression in the side that was built at his own reflection by Sourav ‘DADA’ Ganguly, has definitely been misunderstood by the young and, obviously underdeveloped minds of the junior players and the instances where their naiveté has come to the fore are not really few or far between.

It began with Dada himself using his t-shirt wielding arm as a giant wheel and celebrating at the finals of the NatWest trophy in England, clearly mouthing some four-lettered obscenity, which were left for all to lip-read. In this modern world of mega coverage where nothing really is hidden from the people, it becomes important to behave oneself, and being the captain of the Indian national cricket team, such acts were the last that one should have expected from the elegant southpaw batsman.

Dada’ protégé and obvious replacement, the young Prince, Yuvraj Singh, has repeatedly been accused of being lax and of having an attitude problem. Presumably following in his master’s footsteps, Yuvraj maybe, has forgotten that Ganguly is one of the premier batsmen of his generation, and has the stats to match the swagger. Something that the young Yuvraj has failed to display consistently in the tests or the one dayers. Yuvraj has repeatedly failed in the longer version of the game, only showing flashes of his potential in certain games, like the Bangalore test against Pakistan. Maybe, the great prince is not cut out for tests anyway, since they do take a lot of time off his busy schedule for commercials.

Another Dada backed cricketer, Sreesanth, has been the eye of many a controversy regarding his on-field aggression. A good bowler, but definitely not in the Glenn McGrath mould of greatness by any stretch of imagination, Sreesanth has repeatedly toed the line between aggression and asininity – a line that is growing thinner by the over. Sreesanth’s antics in the Twenty20 World Cup match against Australia, where he went dancing, pitch slapping, and eyeballing the Aussies, aren’t really the way the gentleman’s game is played, even in Oz.

A more recent event has been the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds spat where the entire zoo was, apparently, let loose on the playing field, with a monkey causing the most trouble. Now, granted the fact that Bhajji might not really have said something racist per se, but the fact remains that he was ruffled by Symonds’ tactics and ended up almost causing an international crisis, only averted by the experienced hands of Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble. I wonder why Sachin, Kumble or Dravid have never been involved in such spats, and still are considered greater exponents of the game, than Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Dada combined.

Add another name to that list. The recent stardom that has come with the Twenty20 World Cup win, seems to have gone to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s head. MSD’s head seems to have been caught up in some of the Brylcreem that he markets, and that has led to him saying that the old and experienced hands of Ganguly and Dravid aren’t needed in the one day side. This, even as Ganguly has been the top scorer for India in many a series, both tests as well as one dayers, in recent memory, while Dhoni has struggled with his bat and has spent more time in the salon than the nets.

The golden years of Indian cricket, these are not. Even the Aussie sledging had an understatement to it and was backed by the on-field performance. The young Indian guns seem to have missed that small, yet vital point while making the transition from docile dummies to hell raising half-heroes.

Vineet Kanabar