India: the new Australia?

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.

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13 Responses to India: the new Australia?

  1. Aditya says:

    So you are fine with ‘playing hard’ (you of course didn’t define what that means.) And you have setup an arbitrary line of playing hard, according to which these Indians, exclusively, are dickheads. And the Australian players have redeemed themselves somehow too. Also you took the liberty of observing Kohli’s couple of actions in isolation, and defined him to be the modern Indian cricketer. Nice. (One could carry out a similar exercise with Broad and England much more convincingly.)

    • I’d agree that Broad is arguably a bigger dickhead, but that wasn’t the focus of the article. The Indians I mentioned are clearly not the exclusive examples of unsavoury characters in the sport; but my point was to bring up the fact that there seems to be an attitude problem amongst these young Indian players, and that as the idols of the most powerful cricket playing nation on Earth, their country – and cricket in general – needs them to be behaving with more dignity. Sorry you don’t appreciate it, but Indian players have a bigger responsibility as they are under a bigger microscope: that is a fact.

      • Aditya says:

        This comment of yours is decidely different in tone and content from your article. “there seems to be an attitude problem amongst these young Indian players”. I agree. These young Indian players sledge back. And I’d prefer it if they didn’t, and were more like Sachin and Dravid. I appreciate your sentiment about Indian players having bigger responsibility. But you didn’t really say that in the article. And you really did sort of isolate these Indian players as exclusive examples in the post. It’s fine if that wasn’t the intention. I don’t even remember what Rohit Sharma did to be categorized as a dickhead here.

      • The article was written with broad satirical intentions, as I hoped the title would have indicated. On the face of things, it may not appear as though the aggression and petulance of these players is any different to that of English or Australian players; I believe that it is though. Let’s take Kohli as an example: a ridiculously talented player, beautiful to watch, who plays the game (on the field at least) with such vitriol, petulance and needless aggression that he undermines the team and shames the proud legacy of such dignified legends as Dravid and Sachin. I think: ‘why? Why are their Kohlis and Sreesanths and Dhawans?’, and one cannot help but be led back to the bullying cronyism of the BCCI, and how their powerhousing and reckless administrating of the game might be filtering down to this young generation of cricketers: the first who have grown up through the ranks with India as THE power in cricket. This shouldn’t happen, whether they’re English, Aussie or Indian.

  2. As I concluded, there is sledging and the such, when players take the mick out of the other in order to gain a pyschological advantage; and there is the swaggering petulance and self entitlement of the likes of Kohli.

    • Aditya says:

      Any examples for the charges of being ‘self-entitled’? There is of course a difference between sledging and being self-entitled.

  3. Aditya says:

    So you say that Kohli’s aggression is different to that of English or Australian players, because that undermines a certain legacy. That’s an interesting argument. Also, it is interesting that you choose to associate the board’s actions with the players’ actions on the field. Not sure about the fairness of that argument.

    I sense some cognitive dissonance in your comments. In your latest one, you again seem to suggest that Kohli is a standout sledger amongst all others. And that his sledges happen to cross that line you’ve created.

    Does his aggression remain ‘needless’ if he manages to get under opposition’s skin with it?

  4. Aditya says:

    Also you have been rather quick to paint Dhawan with the same brush and categorize with your other ‘dickheads’ on the basis of one act. In my opinion, Dhawan’s act was more silly than ‘disgraceful’. It was quite aggression-free. A player with a good sense of humour would have even laughed at it. Quite probably he was told more malicious things when Dhawan himself was injured in the earlier match (to which he was responding now).

  5. I think what isn’t coming across clearly is that I suppose my main accusations (being that there is a selection of young Indian internationals who are possesive of an arrogant sense of self-entitlement) probably boil down to it being a psychological aspect of these young men’s game and psyche when they got on the field. I suppose one could argue that the players are not directly responsible for this, rather a burgeoning Indian jingoism and the dominant state of Indian cricket during these players’ growth as players affected them so.

    Personally, I would disagree with removing the blame as look at individuals who have developed in the same environment and remain untained: Pujara being an obvious one.

    I have problems with the false macho-men of Australian cricket and England’s automatons, but the Indian issue is a far more important one, due to them being the face of global cricket, and obviously relevant one.

    Thanks.

  6. Aditya says:

    “Young Indian international cricket players and administrators of the BCCI do not encompass the entirety of the India” – you on twitter. Here – “a burgeoning Indian jingoism”. Contradictions abound. Also arbitrary charge of “an arrogant sense of self-entitlement”. What did they say that made them appear self-entitled?

    • It is a wide-spread opinion, and one that I share. I appreciate that you have taken the time to comment and reply, but I do believe that I’ve said all I am prepared to on the matter. I’m sure in the future I will write on the topic again, and maybe then we can continue this discussion, thanks for reading, have a good one.

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