Its cool to say that, "Oh I don't like cricket", however, it is quite difficult not to follow cricket in India and if you hear a guy saying such a statement you either want to give him a jhaap for being a liar or... give him a jhaap anyway. I admit, that like most dunderheaded Indian males above the age of five, I love cricket too. But what I don't understand is why we, a country of a billion souls, and a diaspora which would possibly account for a fifth of the world's population only follows one sport, and worse still, one team of eleven extremely overpaid and overhyped players. But then again, our cricketers aren't half as bad as the 18-20 year olds in the NBA. Oh, and if you think the media in this country is screwed up, I would love to see the day we start delving into the private lives of our cricketers - like how one of the country's God's has a mistress in Dubai (Portuguese babe I believe) and how another up and coming player is up and coming at every nightclub in town. And of course, there is that story about group sex during a tour. Some of the stuff you get to hear from the guys who write about the sport would make a British tabloid editor blush.
Back to the point, and I guess half the Indian blogosphere has commented about this by now - the Ganguly vs Chappell controversy. Chappell thinks Ganguly is a lazy SOB basically and has said so in so many words to the Board. However, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI - yes it is world's richest Board but doesn't have a website) which is controlled by a bunch of fat politicians is now in the middle of high-drama. Its worse than the standard histrionics in Parliament (unless that is Mamta Banerjee and Lalu Yadav get into a fight - which is funnier) Something like X was backstabbed by Y and Y voted for Z but Z decided to magnanimously support X, however Y cried foul and said money was involved. All of this in front of the nation's sports media - keep in mind Sania had managed to lose in the second round of the Sunfeast Open - so there wasn't even anything to keep the sports media preoccupied (Narain will qualify somewhere towards the lower half of the Brazilian GP and then there will be standard 'Aw, Shucks' stories). Anyway, I think the entire BCCI Board should be fired and we should get a bunch of professional managers and not politicians to run the show. Plus, whatever happened to a proper audit of the BCCI's finances? Has anyone wondered why India has possibly the worst cricket stadiums in the world (save Eden Gardens and Mohali) despite India only ONE sport!
(EDIT : Hahaha! They adjourned it by two months - just to save their asses and negotiate more. You have to admire Jagmohan Dalmiya. The man would have been PM by now if he was a regular politician)
Back to the Captain vs Coach controversy. Everybody in the country assumes that because of my ethnicity I 'heart' Ganguly, but actually I don't. I think Ganguly is being a cry-baby and should be fired for that reason only - and also because of his stupid and arrogant behaviour he is giving Bengali's as a community a worse reputation than they really deserve - heck, I've been told told that Ganguly fits the Bong stereotype of a 'Lazy Bastard' at least three times today. Ganguly is India's winningest captain and yes we have finally won a series abroad - pity it had to have taken place in a country ruled by a despotic madman.
What is even funnier is how all the parties involved use the media. Ganguly oviously knows that he is under pressure, but in the garb of exclusives to certain TV channels and vernacular Bong papers he is trying to get public support for his atnds. The Dalmiya vs Pawar fight is being played out through several journalists in the media. Some sports editors have even claimed to have a say in team selection. There is no objective sports journalism, the only way to get access to the team is become the 'agent' of one player or another. So you have your Ganguly-supporters who are paranoid that if Ganguly goes, so will their celebrated access to the dressing room and then there are Ganguly baiters who have been told off by the Bong once or twice in their careers. And then there is the dressing room fissure between the Bong and Bangalorean Tamil - it is rather serious I believe - almost as bad as the the Dev-Gavaskar thingie! However, India is very bad at getting rid of captains - Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Azhar, Tendulkar were all fired in very weird ways.
Indian cricket still basks in the warm afterglow of the 1983 World Cup victory - despite the fact that a third of India's population wasn't even born then. I was a four-year old in Oxford on that day and my god - the amount of people who came around giving sweets made me believe that Oxford was an Indian town. We live in that warm afterglow because Indians believe it can happen again (we believe a lot of things out here - like marble statues drinking milk), and thats why we forgive our cricketers a lot. However, with the strength of the English team right now, and the Ozzies bound to rebuild for 2007, India has no hope in hell of doing well in the West Indies unless we also start afresh. And I think Greg Chappell is a serious Coach who can fix this team. Ganguly should quit, because a century and series win against Zimbabwe counts for nothing. If those politicians stop fighting and realise that cricket might have a few other sports join in the Sports pantheon, things might improve. But this is my humble opinion on the matter!
On another note - Google's Blogsearch is amazingly powerful - a lot of blogs that should be in the private domain are also indexed - got some gems of blogs!
Shekhar Kapur's blog has some fantastic poetry and some amazing articles as well.