India took the seven match bilateral ODI series against Australia 3-2 with a victory in the final fixture yesterday.
I can’t be a complete killjoy: there were some pretty exciting moments during the series; however I can’t really recall these brief flashes of excitement, as they remain merely dotted amongst a vast beige expanse of dull ball-bullying on the flattest of tracks.
Sure, seeing a man thwack, tonk, bang and boom a cricket ball 90 meters in the air and into a screaming crowd is an exciting spectacle to encounter; seeing it 107 times in four and a half limited over games (one was abandoned without a ball bowled, the other rain disrupted and ultimately a no-result) causes one to become numbed to the event, as the very act of hitting a ball so hard and far loses its meaning, and it almost ceases to be an event.
The bland BCCI endorsed and (assumedly) bar-coded and micro-chipped commentators would yell and hyperbolise as I yawned and turned away to read some poetry (that one was for the lecturers).
What I got from this series mainly, was yet another worrying reminder of a certain thing that has really irked me about this young Indian side…
They’re just too Australian.
Ask an Australian about the characteristics emblematic of the archetypal Australian cricketer, and they’ll probably answer: ‘G’day mate, well, he’s a top bloke, and crikey, a helluva tough competitor who’ll give his all at all times, but still be up for a pint at the end of play’ or something like that, right?
Whereas everyone else in the World: ‘Arrogant, aggressive, petulant and f***ing tough to beat’.
Think Steve Waugh, Allan Border etc. etc.
Now this young Indian side, through the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have displayed some of the less savoury aspects of this stereotype: namely a crass arrogance and lack of sportsmanship. But unlike the redeeming factor of mostly all Australian cricketers to have played the game, these players have so far displayed an utter lack of class and respect, pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in love, cricket and war.
Shikhar Dhawan’s mocking of Shane Watson’s injury was a disgraceful act, that only displayed a lack of manners that left a sour taste in the mouth of all those who enjoy watching such a talented young man as Dhawan bat.
In my roundup of last year’s cricket (read it here) I selected – controversially – Virat Kohli as my ‘villain of 2012’. What I wrote then, is relevant in this article also, so allow me to quote myself:
‘I find him to define the modern Indian cricketer: as possessive of a self-entitled arrogance that belies his inexperience and relative lack of achievement in comparison to some of his contemporaries. I think he is a fine batsman with a fantastic future ahead of him, but would Sachin have celebrated as coarsely as he did in Adelaide upon the arrival of his first Test ton? His failures are also those of his side and of the general outlook that Indian cricket has been guilty of this year. I hope he matures quickly as he may be forced to, something in Indian cricket must change for them to return to the force they once were on the playing field only a couple of years ago.’
Would Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid have played with the needless aggression that these young Indians do? No, and this group of players can hardly use the excuse that they need such conflict to ‘gee’ themselves up: Cheteshwar Pujara is just one of several current, prodigiously gifted Indians who play with a respect and elegance that is reminiscent of the players I have just mentioned, and that shows up his young compatriots for their coarse adoption of ‘Australian’ attitudes.
I’m not saying that playing hard is not O.K; there is just a difference between playing the game with controlled aggression, and being dickheads.