Although my interest in cricket has significantly declined since the advent of T20 cricket, the events of the last few days prompted me to sit up & take notice. Nothing new actually happened. It was all circa 1999 where Azhar, Prabhakar and others were caught in match fixing and banned for life by the Board. And to add to it, Indian cricket was going through its worst phase in terms of performance – losing 3-0 to Australia in Australia followed by a test series loss to South Africa at home in 2000. Heroes had fallen, a new team was under formation and cricket fans were gutted to say the least..
In early 2001, the average cricket fan was losing patience. India lost the Mumbai test to Australia by 10 wickets and it was hard to see how this team could even draw let alone win against arguably the best Australian side to have ever played the game. It seemed that way till day 2 of the Kolkata test by when Indian cricket’s obituaries were being written in the media. What was to happen – no one could have every imagined….
I always felt Indian cricket was in safe hands as long as the fab four – Sachin, Sourav, Rahul & Laxman – played in the squad, not to mention the legendary Anil Kumble. However, as always, only one of these legends stood tall at a time when Indian cricket is in crisis – Rahul Sharad Dravid. As captain of the Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2013, Rahul once again exemplified why he is the leader than Dhoni or Sachin or Gavaskar could never be. As his players got arrested for all the wrong reasons, Rahul stood up not just to media but also to the people of this country to express his hurt and disappointment. Throughout his career, Rahul hasn’t just been an accomplished cricketer but also a very honourable gentleman. His biography, his famous MCC lecture and articles published on him all highlight his love and respect for the game. I saw Indian cricket’s fortunes change when Rahul Dravid played for India..
On the other hand, it was reproachable to see the silence of Dhoni as the India team embarked on its journey to England for the Champions Trophy. The grin on his face smacks of scant respect for Indian cricket let alone the Indian cricket fan.
His post-match comments after India suffered whitewashes against England & Australia away followed by the test series loss to England @ home proved how money has come to dominate this beautiful game. With the powers-that-be colluding at the top, it’s hard to see how the nexus can be broken. And the only good that can happen to Indian cricket now is for India to lose a few series & for sponsors to back out. It seems unlikely but I do hope we will see a leader like Dravid emerge at the end of this dark phase for Indian cricket..