India or Australia, who are the real world champions?

The India versus Australia one-day series starts this Saturday and the mind games have begun already. While India’s triumph in the twenty-twenty World Cup is fresh in all our minds, the Australians haven’t shied away from reminding everyone of their past triumphs, haughtily dismissing the twenty-twenty championship while claiming that they are the real world champions. So, who is the better team here?  

I have very little knowledge of cricket to comment on the technical aspects of the game. I am just a typical passionate fan of the Indian cricket team rather than of cricket per se, following only those matches in which India plays and watching cricket solely to see India win. All this talk about silly points and such strikes me as, well, quite silly actually. 

But as a proud Indian fan, I have a right to voice my opinion, haven’t I? And my honest and instinctive opinion is that despite our recent victory, Australia is still the far better team of the two. Simply because they have an amazingly consistent record that speaks for itself and consistency is the one area where we have been sorely lacking so far.

I am glad India won the twenty-twenty cricket World Cup on Monday. Sadly, sitting here in a remote part of the US, we missed out on a lot of the excitement back home in India. I wasn’t even aware a World Cup was going on till the husband went crazy after Yuvraj’s legendary sixer spree in the match against England. We did watch all the subsequent match highlights on the internet though. 

Perhaps being away from the homeland explains why I don’t feel part of the mass hysteria sweeping the nation for the past few days. But I was all set to go crazy and scream myself hoarse cheering for India in the one-day World Cup earlier this year. The husband and I even paid precious dollars for the privilege of watching the World Cup matches live in the US then. So my lack of enthusiasm for this so-called momentous Indian win is baffling, really.  

Yes, I am happy we won, but there are so many things I find odd about our win that I don’t feel ready to celebrate yet. How do you explain this same team not even qualifying in the early rounds of the one-day World Cup? No wait, it wasn’t even the same team. That team had stalwarts like Sachin, Ganguly and Dravid, didn’t it? So is this win a triumph of the youthful spirit of the new team? Then perhaps it is time for the seniors to retire, is it?  

Or is the Indian temperament more suited to the twenty-twenty format? I am willing to buy that theory only if we continue to do well in that format in the future. Was it the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni that clinched it for India? Again, I’ll agree with that only if his amazing run continues. Or did we win because the other major teams did not participate as earnestly in this World Cup as in the one-day one?  

I hate being the lone skeptic here, but could it have something to do with luring one billion Indians (and as a happy coincidence, millions of advertising dollars) towards twenty-twenty cricket? Isn’t that thought eerily reminiscent of the post-liberalization era when Indian beauty queens won one international beauty paegant after another in quick succession? Almost as if the world had suddenly discovered the Indian concept of beauty. Conveniently, our triumphant run stopped around the same time the cosmetics and fashion industry made its mark in the Indian market. 

Yes, I know it sounds awfully cynical. I’ll probably be crucified for this post if enough cricket-lovers visit this page. But this is my opinion folks. Take it or leave it, please. And I’ll be more than happy to eat my words when India wins the series against Australia in the next few days! 

Update: Just watched the news with chief ministers of every state announcing cash prizes to their state’s cricketers. Is it their own personal money they are gifting away? If yes, I applaud their generosity and passion for the game.  

Unfortunately, we know enough of our politicians to know that will never happen. So its public funds that are being gifted. Isn’t that money supposed to be used for boring things like buildings roads and schools and hospitals? Aren’t the cricketers more than adequately compensated by the BCCI and their advertising income already? 

The Indian hockey players (who incidentally won the Asia cup earlier this year) are protesting the step-motherly treatment meted out to hockey vis-à-vis cricket. Aren’t their protests justified?

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