Soft Victory

40 Comments

In an effort to put all speculation to rest as to whether he can still keep it up as the captain of the team, Ricky Ponting has announced “I haven’t gone soft” (headline: “I haven’t gone soft, declares Ponting“). A certain man in India who once kissed Ricky Ponting because “he is a great captain and our culture is to kiss him” must be able to go to bed in peace after being thus reassured of Ponting’s ever-enduring rigidness.

If further evidence was needed for Punter’s hardness, it was provided by this alliterative headline from the Age which went: “Ponting lets Roebuck feel pointy end of his pen” in which we are told how Ponting struck back at criticism from Roebuck regarding his handling of the Sydney Test.

Now I don’t really care about Punter’s pointy pen or who is feeling it, but I do know what the general reaction would have been if a certain recently-retired ex-captain of the Indian cricket team had a), out of fear of getting banned for a Test, compromised severely his team’s chance to equalize the series (which is what Ponting did by letting his “slow bowlers” bowl at Dhoni and Harbhajan at a time when he could have finished off the Test) and b) lashed out at a critic who dared question his right to captaincy. The Australian press would have gone into a frenzy and our “Hum Kisi Se Kum Naheen” Indian sports press, led by the ever-reliable “you know whos” would be pillorying the said captain not for tactical ineptness but for his selfishness and his pettiness and how this kind of behavior comes about because in his warped mind, he considers his own interests to be synonymous with the nation’s.

I also know what the reaction would have been if a player from India was caught by the umpire vigorously “manipulating” the ball which was then followed up by the umpire calling up the captain (a fact that commentators pointed out at the time the incident happened) to inform him of the fact and right after that incident, the ball started reversing and opened up the opposing team’s batting order. Words like “cheats” and “India’s inordinate influence in word cricket which embolden them to do such things” would have come up and a visit to the match referee or penalty runs would have been assured.

However if the player pulling at the ball is from Australia and his name is “White” (which is delightfully ironic in itself), then expect there to be total silence– from the Australian and the Indian press.

I also speculate as to what would have happened if a player from the subcontinent had come out with a runner as Michael Clarke had and the excuse for that given as “he is generally unwell”, which I recalled was an euphemism used , during my junior high days, to explain to a group of clueless boys as to why so-and-so girl wont be playing hide-and-seek with them today. I presume an Australian player, like Healy would have said something on the lines of: “You don’t get a runner for being an overweight, unfit, fat c***” to the “generally unwell” player while the umpires and match referee would be collectively cleaning wax out of their ears right at that precise moment and so miss the exchange all together.

And that would be all right if an Australian had said that. Because we are used to it. We expect them to abuse their opponents, claim illegal catches and then shout like Michael Slater in 1998, cast aspersions on the character of their wives and mothers and anything and everything as long as it can be justified as ‘mental disintegration’ and with a “This is how Aussies play sport”. We also expect them to be scandalized when anyone says anything to them as when in a tour match in 2001, a bowler gave Waugh a verbal send-off which shocked Langer as he knew that respect for elders is ingrained in Indian culture. The fact that they would complain of tactics as being “negative” when they were being brilliantly outmaneuvered is also not surprising. And yes we also expect them, like “Tan Key Shakti, Mon Key Shakti” Symonds to cry and crib when given a taste of his own medicine, raise the bogey of racism when it suits them and to accuse their opponents of being liars (as Adam Gilchrist did) to stir up some trouble.

However we also expect Australia to win, play great cricket and crush their opposition.

Alas this side cannot even come close to doing that, getting trounced 2–0 with the sight of spearhead Brett Lee quarreling with Ponting on the playing field because the captain preferred Hussey to Lee summing up the depths to which the Aussies had plunged. No wonder then that after making such sanctimonious noises about how Cricket Australia tolerates no nonsense, just months after dropping Symonds as punishment leading to speculation that his career may be finished, they are so eager to have him back in their team.

In the light of this pathetic state of things, dear Australian cricket team and press, a bit of advice. Its not original—-it’s a sentence you guys like to say to us. Except now I am saying it to you.

“Stop complaining, stop the verbals, keep your head down and start performing.”

And to all Indians rejoicing and proclaiming our team to be the best in the world based on this series victory, keep it down dudes. Do realize that with the current state of the Australian team and most importantly on home soil, this victory should give us about as much a sense of achievement as winning an arm-wrestling match against A K Hangal.

Finally I thought I wouldn’t be saying this. But please oh please dear Symonds. Please restore Australia to the “ugly and nasty champion” position as before. Cause right now, your team is simply “ugly and nasty”.

And the cricket world is the poorer for it.

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40 thoughts on “Soft Victory

  1. Completely agree.
    I always love to see India and Australia clash in the best of their forms. The joy is unparalleled and then all the sledging in fact adds to the excitement. Without form, it just amounts to cheap gimmicks.

    And if a subcontinent guy would have done all that with all the backlash, I bet Sunil Gavaskar would have done a Rahul Raj !

  2. GB,

    I would like to see a post on Joggu and Maha-manoos Saral Power fight in the court.

    Long live GB blog! I could not even write a single word on your last post. It was a sad day for me, really.

    -Aniket

  3. I’ve been reading this blog for quite a while now, and have never ever commented on any of the articles. I assumed that if the blog was yours, you had the right to write everything and anything that you felt like writing and I had absolutely no right to question any part of it.

    But today I feel I have to question you on something thats been on my mind since I first started reading this blog.

    What is with the Ganguly fetish?

    He was a great player, served the BCCI cricket team marvelously and made a killing while he was at it. Well done. Appreciate it. He was wronged by the media/fans/administrators on many an occasion, but I’d assume with the kind of money/fame that he made, he was more than compensated for his “services” to the country.

    Please please can we move on now? The world sadly does not revolve around Ganguly. Every single happening in the cricket world does not require a flashback to the agonies that Dada had to witness to survive in the cricketing world to make sense. Every single cricketer is not necessarily ratable in terms of “was good to Ganguly”/”behaved badly with Ganguly”

    I could go on, but I think you get my point.

    Once again, love the articles (the majority, at least), and apologies for trying to impose.

    MRK

  4. Crying, whining champions are what Australia have always been. Their supremacy on the pitch completely contradicts their cause for the spirit of the game.

    Sydney spoke enough. But it looks like they aren’t done.

  5. i was really surprised the way white’s incidence was given any coverage – no ball tempering charges, no referee calling, no bans where as TV camera clearly caught him red handed….and not so long ago some indian was banned for clearing the mud of the ball using his nails…..so bloody dbl standards

  6. I totally agree with GB & BigB that Indian commentators are worthless fellows who don’t know how to project their team (& eventually country) in the right manner. After 60 years of Independence they don’t miss an opportunity to please the ‘whites’ with their spineless & ‘ball-less’ commentary which overflows with political correctness.

    GB has another duty on hand & a serious one…. a cricket commentator (on live TV).

  7. ““he is generally unwell”, which I recalled was an euphemism used , during my junior high days, to explain to a group of clueless boys as to why so-and-so girl wont be playing hide-and-seek with them today.”

    hahahahahhaha. you are simply gifted at writing. i salute you!!!

  8. “this victory should give us about as much a sense of achievement as winning an arm-wrestling match against A K Hangal”

    I do not agree with this at all. this is same Indian team which has comprehensively beaten Aus (with Gilchrist and Symonds) in perth and now in India. we would have won series in Aus (or atleast leveled it) if not for their most “ugly and nasty” behavior. if you call current Victory as “arm-wrestling match against A K Hangal” then victories Aus had in 2004 in India (or most of Aus victories from 1999 to 2007) will also qualify as same.

  9. Bow!!!

    This is perfectly the type of article that should be sent to CA, cc to ICC match refs and bcc to BCCI, Roebuck and Headlines Today!!!! Any way to do that?!

  10. I think the punchline for the last test was – “Australia got intimidated by the defensive strategies of India” [Ref: 8-1 field setting] – Now who is soft is up for debate!

  11. This victory is possible just because of Laxman and debutanat opener Vijay. Laxman scored a lot of runs and Vijay gave solid starts in both the innings. Without Laxman and Vijay, India would have lost the series.

  12. Hayden also called India “third world country” and its “heat” affecting their players in this test series. Same third world country that pays his fat IPL check, to which he will gladly lick anyone’s ass. Worse still, the same racist pig also comes on NDTV to cook “paneer masala” to which the anchor went “ooh aaah this is the best paneer masala” crap.

    Australian players are pathetic, their media even more, and even worse is Indian media.

  13. The series vicotry is definitely a great win in terms of its statistical importance. And statistics won’t state that it was a against a depleted and out-of-form Aussie side at home.

    Whether it is the begining of the end for Australia or whether this will put India on top is something only time will tell.

    However, I think it is hypocritical to point fingers at Ponting for protecting self-interest, being defensive or Australians for using mental disintegration or any other tactics. India and all other cricketing nations have done or tried all these and more.

    Cheers,
    Salil

  14. Hi greatbong,
    Well my first reaction was that this Australian team is totally uncomfortable playing under a leash. Bit like how Matt Prior compeletely lost the plot when he was asked to shut his pie hole. I would have compeletely seconded your thoughts some years back, which are still vaild in case of the Australian team, but I feel the scenario in the Indian team has changed. Our team also engages in plenty of “verbal ding dong” and I genuinely felt that Gautam Gambhir had some what crossed the limits. So, I think it was more justifiable in 1999 for the Indian team to complain, but in the current context I feel there needs to be some introspection from our end too. To be completely honest, I feel players like Gambhir, Harbhajan and Sreesanth deserve more than a wrap on their knuckles for their behaviour. Which they get or are likely to get but the same yardstick does not apply to the “fairer” nations which I guess irks most Indians and rightly so.

    Unfortunately the Australian team of the past that we so detest for their behaviour were champions. Young Indian cricketers and cricket fans like you and me have somewhere emulated and admired them also. For egs:- The Sri Lankan tour of australia was one of the worst that I have ever scene in terms of behaviour and just the absolute lack of respect for an International team, but they did beat them. For young Indian cricketers who are not able to differentiaite the cricketing aspect and behavourial aspect might absorb the dark side of that team. I think the current Indian team has some such players who are willing to accept that it is a “part of the game”.

  15. About the Indian Team, it has to be absolutely ruthless if it has to be the No.1 side in the world. This is a golden opportunity for Indian cricket. We had similar one after the 2002 world cup where I felt India had played the best cricket I have ever seen and it could have gone from strength to stength. I felt Ganguly wasn’t ruthless enough after the victory against Pakistan in Pakistan and we became very complacent. Dhoni should not repeat the same mistake. It has to consistently win home and away for next 3-4 years to earn that title in my book. We have the ammunition now, no question about that.

  16. “Now I don’t really care about Punter’s pointy pen or who is feeling it, but I do know what the general reaction would have been if a certain recently-retired ex-captain of the Indian cricket team had a), out of fear of getting banned for a Test, compromised severely his team’s chance to equalize the series (which is what Ponting did by letting his “slow bowlers” bowl at Dhoni and Harbhajan at a time when he could have finished off the Test) and b) lashed out at a critic who dared question his right to captaincy. The Australian press would have gone into a frenzy and our “Hum Kisi Se Kum Naheen” Indian sports press, led by the ever-reliable “you know whos” would be pillorying the said captain not for tactical ineptness but for his selfishness and his pettiness and how this kind of behavior comes about because in his warped mind, he considers his own interests to be synonymous with the nation’s.”

    Superb. Superb. And on that note, I have recently lost respect for that Aussie cricket writer Gideon Haigh. My first suspicion of him being a racial supremacist was kindled when I saw him attack a Dileep Premachandran article on Cricinfo about the BCCI attitude towards Zimbabwe. Then came some disparaging remarks about the “Indian masses” cloaked by an attack on Sunil Gavaskar during the Aussie tour there. And his recent article on Cricinfo about Ponting is just beating about the bush at its very best. And its true…all those big mouths like Malcolm Conn and Peter Lalor have just shut the f up. Thoroughly enjoyed watching those 4 tests. It also just shows the importance of strike bowlers to win Test matches. 2 players- Mcgrath and Warne gone and now you see people like Cameron White bowling. 🙂 Australia and Ponting knew before the series that they would lose. This attitude made them unaustralian. A defensive Australian team has historically not been a successful one. And this time it was no different. Their argument may well be that given the resources they had, that was the only option they had. So congrats to India for playing smart cricket. I also read that that 6-3 and 8-1 fields on Day 3, Test 4 were brainchilds of Gary Kirsten. Then kudos to him for doing the coach’s job in the right way – by being in the background and offering useful, constructive advice; and not trying to create an image of a messiah cum social reformer by being constantly in the spotlight, as was the characteristic of an ex-India coach from Down Under.

  17. @ MRK

    As you rightly said, the blog is GB’s and he has every right to write everything and anything that he feels like writing. So why question his ‘fetish’ for Ganguly, in the first place?

    As for the point of Ganguly serving the Indian cricket team and making a ‘killing’ while at it sounds a bit odd. Today every cricketer in the Indian side is compensated for his services. So what’s so special about Ganguly? Are you saying that he deserves the wrongs wronged upon him, just because he was ‘paid’ for his pains thereafter? Just as we may say that it is ok for Sachin to be battered, bruised and browbeaten while he continues to bear the load of India’s expectations year after year for 19 years, just because he is making a ‘killing’ while he is at it.

  18. Kishore is back with a bang!

    Its Laxman who scored century in first innings and he came back to bat again and made 85. Oh I forgot he opened too and gave a solid start. And other mortals were all clueless against a rookie Jason Krejza when he bowled them all(for 0 runs) through the gate between their bats and pads.

    And Vijay took all 20 wickets. What a devastating spell he bowled in the 2nd and last session on the last day. Well done Vijay.

  19. i agree 100% and have felt the same for long. the ICC has always had a huge racial bias. was it soutn africa 1999 when bhajji, sachin and a host of others were pulled up for ‘excessive appealing?’ what a load of horse shit that was.
    however, it is my personal opinion that white people are better at sledging. they look the part. it goes with their personality. i cringed when zaheer khan gave the aussie openers some verbal in the very first over at the world cup final in 2003. he looked ridiculous, like a bad actor trying to fake it. at that exact moment, i said to myseld “you ve dropped the cup, son”

  20. “And the cricket world is the poorer for it.” …. absolutely agree. And the same goes for Pakistan’s long absences from international cricket.

  21. You accused Clarke of having a period!! You should be ashamed of your sexist nature. Now Clarke will feel like a pig being hunted!!!!
    All important points captured so very well by you.
    Sachin Tendulkar cleans the seam of the ball and he gets a one match ban. White pulls a chunk of leather off the ball and he gets nothing. I will not accuse Broad of racism but his actions are highly inconsistent. He bans Gambhir for a test for his unsportsmanlike elbowing which I agree but he does nothing to White even when the umpire was really pissed with him for his actions.

  22. I love to hate Australia. Its my most favorite thing in the world. I want India to beat them when they are on the top of their game and are being assholes while doing it.

    On Gangulys retirement though, i remembered the dialogue from the Dark Knight:

    “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the
    villain”.
    But in Gangulys case though, he came back from being a villain to become a hero we deserved but did not really need. He was our Dark Knight.

  23. these days i have a funny gut feeling that kishore and arnab are actually one and the same person…

    the way he gets away with his little southern idlis is quite funny…..

    has anyone seen them together in one place? just curious ?? 🙂

  24. haha .. Ye A K Hangal kahan se aa jata hai har baar 🙂

    Though I don’t agree with that point. It was a great performance by the Indian team and the Australian team, though weaker was still ‘Australian cricket team’.

  25. @MRK

    ” and made a killing while he(Ganguly) was at it ”

    The string of thoughts (or the lack of it) that prompted you to say this is precisely what leads GB to bring in Ganguly’s case while writing about situations like these. Somehow insinuations like these don’t seem too tasteful and go along the same lines as the baseless ( that’s what I think) and proof-less ( that’s the reality) accusations that Greg Chappell had made …

    And finally, asking people who have admired Ganguly for the last thirteen years,endured the stage where he was vilified & finally rejoiced to see their belief in his heroics & grit reinstated to give up the Ganguly “fetish” is a asking for a bit too much

  26. This is a bit off-course, but Ajit Panja, the former union minister, lawyer and actor- and whose pic is on one of the rotating banners on top of the site, died yesterday following a battle with cancer.

  27. Oh, by the way, remember the ‘choo-choo’ incident involving Chris Cairns you wrote about sometime back? I had met Cairns earlier this month and he flatly denied it and said nothing like that ever happened, and even said it was the media’s imagination.

  28. We have conquered the cricketing world.
    given the amount of money in the game the indian cricket team can only get better and better. conversely as their teams decline other countries will see fewer and fewer youngsters taking up the game. (remember cricket vs. bsketball in the west indies? or the story of hockey in india?)

    The world of football remains…

  29. “I haven’t gone soft, declares Ponting“

    “Ponting lets Roebuck feel pointy end of his pen”

    “Stop complaining, stop the verbals, keep your head down and start performing.”

    🙂

  30. Don’t worry, with the two ex-drunks Ponting and Symonds back, the Aussies will be chirping again soon enough. And dont expect Symonds to have changed or improved. Putting lipstick on a pig (hey I also get to use this line!) does not make it any prettier.

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