In Indian sports even moderate success by international standards welcomes a media frenzy. One Silver Medal at Athens and the next day the press has gone mad, the five thousand and one news channels are outside the medal winners house and start interviewing his bemused neighbours for lack of anyone else. Plus, Narin Karthikeyan is praised to high heaven for his insipid first season in F1. I'm not saying that Karthikeyan is a bad driver, I'm sure he is far better driver than me, but all that he has done is promote some rather unsafe driving through his adverts for 'Speed'. But, in F1 NK (as the ten auto magazine editors who love him call him and that I will use for the rest of this post because I'm not going to type Narain Karthikeyan thirty times) has been a bit of a damp squib.
My respect for NK tumbled after he tried to justify racing in Indianapolis. However, in today's Ganguly dominated Sports pages, I noticed the news-item that NK finished higher than Montoya in a test. My question is, so bloody what? This was an F1 test and tests needn't be done to check the absolute speed of the car. Kind of reminded my of the headline that both ToI and HT used when NK qualified ahead of the Schum-ster in a race, they highlighted that fact and ignoring the small itsy-bitsy detail that MS had spun out on qualifying until the third para. Brilliant! Accurate reporting, no way! I'm happy that an Indian raced in F1 and didn't make as big an idiot of himself as the first Malaysian in F1 - Alex Yoong but I am very sure that the $6 million that NK paid his team for the drive and the $5 million extra that he spent on logistics was money badly spent.
Now we come to the Bengali, our deraly departed (from the cricket team) captain, Sourav Ganguly. I don't think I can put into words my contempt for the Indian selectors better than Greatbong. While I agree that Ganguly is past his prime and deserved to have been removed from the captaincy sometime ago so that the next generation can take over (which is why I now believe that Yuvraj Singh should be made Team India captain sooner rather than later) and that he might have warranted being left out of the playing 11 sometime back, what did he do wrong in Kotla? Sharad Pawar has not only finished his honeymoon at the BCCI, but he has actually politicised the BCCI even more, something that Jagmohan Dalmiya prevented. And now those evil Bong communists are revolting (but for once I support them) and while they haven't yet threatened to bring down the government, I believe they should. Yet, certain parts of the media hate Ganguly with a vengeance - they detest him. The current winning streak (against a team that is looking decidedly weak and is on the decline) is being hailed, but have we played some semi-decent opposition lately (Well, the South Africans were, but there were some dubious pitches in that series). Ganguly should be given a fitting farewell, a farewell fit for the man who took India to its best WC performance since the fluke of 1983, this is the man who led India to its best modern-day tour down under, who ruined Steve Waugh's farewell. If modern Indian cricket is where it is, it is because of Sourav Ganguly. Yes, I believe that Ganguly should not have played the 'Bengali' card so much. But this is not about Bengal and Bengali's, its about Indian cricket. And this episode is doing Indian Cricket no good. I was one who believed Ganguly should go, but no-body deserves to go like this. Only Ramnath Goenka treated Arun Shourie worse.
I've got a bad feeling about the England tour (and even scarier our visit to Pakistan) - sure we have a mad wicket-keeper batsman and a devastating fast bowler (x1) but just watching Pakistan yesterday was scary. Very scary. We'll get whipped over there, Bob Woolmer has done miracles to that team (other than remove Mohammed Yousef's tinge of selfishness). And then we'll see this entire new disposition fall down like a pack of cards, because I'm not seeing miracles in the Indian team. And after watching the Australians and the Pakistani's, 2007 doesn't look good at all.
Let Ganguly go the way Steve Waugh went, don't make him a pawn in Machiavellian politics. And yeah, sponsors, don't stump up millions for a another season of NK.