April 05, 2020
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Small Town Spine

Small Town Spine
Oh, what a lovely war! Whether Mr Symonds is a monkey or whether the Australians behave as they do because they are descendants of convicts is up for grabs—the final decision pending with the fifth umpire. However, I cannot recall another time in the last couple of years when the Indian state has had such a feeling of righteous glow. Our boys may have been demolished on the field, but off the maidan they did Bharat proud. Some parivar-friendly commentators have detected the positive consequences of Shining India and surya namaskar in the new-found assertiveness of the men in blue. Whether Messrs Kumble, Tendulkar and Dravid are confirmed BJP voters is something I cannot confirm, but if the saffron press is to be believed, they definitely show strong ideological inclinations towards Messrs Modi and Togadia.

Armchair psychologists have had a field day analysing and assessing the body and verbal language of those who played "in the spirit of the game". Post-colonial spunk in India does not lend itself to easy interpretation. Not surprisingly, gobbledygook is rampant. I don’t have any Freudian or existential theory to the riddle of how and why our team suddenly developed a spine. Nevertheless, the three candidates who deserve praise—Jagmohan Dalmiya, Harbhajan and Sreesanth—are all small-town boys in mentality who did not carry any historical baggage when it came to taking on the white men in the ICC or the white men claiming to be world champions. I doubt whether this role could ever have been performed by Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman or Kumble, burdened as they are by history, culture and metropolitan manners. Put this down to another victory for small-town India.

A word of caution is necessary. Having upped the ante and won the battle for hearts, minds and column inches, we should be careful how we unwind the spat. Any unilateral "gesture" must include an element of reciprocity. If Bhajji is left squirming on the rack and some "secret deal" is struck between the BCCI and ICC, Sharad Pawar will have hell to pay.

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