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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 12:11 GMT
Is India's slip good for cricket?
Mukul Kesavan
By Mukul Kesavan
Author of 'Men in White'

Unhappy India fans
India's fans staged a protest after the World Cup loss to Sri Lanka

For Indian fans, India's elimination from the cricket World Cup so early in the competition is a crushing disappointment.

For the television channels that bought rights to beam the tournament to these fans, Friday's defeat was a financial disaster.

But for the tournament itself, nothing could have been more tonic than the purging of Pakistan and India, the dysfunctional giants of South Asian cricket.

Instead of these glowering bruisers, the extravagantly gifted Sri Lankans and the plucky Bangladeshis will represent South Asia in the next round, the Super 8.

Since the Reliance World Cup hosted by India in 1987, South Asia's cricketing nations have become more and more influential in the conduct and administration of the one-day game.
The elimination of India and Pakistan leaves the World Cup in the West Indies a happier, less toxic tournament

Some of this influence has to do with cricketing success: since India won the Cup in 1983, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have won it in 1992 and 1996 respectively.

Mainly, though, the balance of power in world cricket has shifted from England and Australia towards the sub-continent for commercial reasons: the dawning realisation that India owns the only mass audience there is for the game.

One-day allure

Cricket was always popular in India, but the coincidence of World Cup success in 1983 and the creation of a national television audience in the early 1980s (Doordarshan, India's sole, government-owned television station at the time, created a pan-Indian network in 1982) expanded and deepened the fan base of the game.

Crucially, this new audience was exclusively drawn to one-day cricket, the shorter form of the game.

Pakistan fans burn an effigy of Inzamam-ul-Haq after their World Cup exit
Pakistan's elimination from the World Cup also drew angry protests

There were several reasons for this. Limited overs matches were over in a day, they were never inconclusive and they had a gladiatorial quality that Test cricket with its longueurs, wholly lacked.

The arena-like excitement of ODIs was tailor-made for that great South Asian sport, chauvinism.

India and Pakistan had resumed cricket relations after a long chill in 1978, just as limited-overs cricket was starting to take off.

The compulsive need to confront the old enemy led to the creation of a cricket circus in the Gulf sheikhdom, Sharjah, where, on neutral ground, the sub-continent's blood feuds were re-played as one-day tournaments for the benefit of increasingly feverish and volatile audiences.

The fusion of chauvinism and television had two bad consequences: an obsessive fan base that tended to become deranged by defeat and the rise of contemporary cricket's stock villain, the corrupting bookie.

Defeat, especially at the hands of the old enemy, led to a) a suspension of cricketing relations (India stopped playing Pakistan in Sharjah after a sequence of defeats led to allegations of foul play) and b) to attacks on players or their property (Mohammad Kaif's home was attacked in 2003, and Mahendra Dhoni's house was damaged after India was defeated by Bangladesh in their opening match in the present tournament).

Corruption

The rise of the bookie and the phenomenon of match-fixing which nearly destroyed cricket's credibility as a competitive sport, was a by-product of the new South Asian audience for one-day cricket.

It couldn't have happened in an environment where the Test match was the dominant form.

Test cricket is harder to fix. It happens over a longer span, there are more innings, more variables and it never generates the steaming pressure-cooked excitement that leads to frenzied betting in the course of an ODI.

Test cricket's suspense is cumulative, and its metabolic rate too low for villains.

And these bookies, these villains are South Asian - located in India and Pakistan for the most part, countries where the criminalisation of betting has driven the betting 'industry' underground.

The corruption that bookies have brought to the game has had foreign recruits like the late South African captain, Hansie Cronje, but it remains a sub-continental blight.

Already Bob Woolmer's tragic death is being speculatively attributed to bookmakers worried that the Pakistani coach was about to blow the whistle on their racket in his forthcoming book.

Cricket will buckle under the weight of the sullen, thin-skinned nationalism that Indian and Pakistani fans bring to the game and it can certainly do without the bookie-driven corruption that feeds off this perverse enthusiasm.

The elimination of India and Pakistan leaves the World Cup in the West Indies a happier, less toxic tournament; it might even give the fans of these countries the time to actually play some cricket.

Or they could use the break to switch their loyalties to a sport that doesn't bring out the worst in them. Test cricket, anyone?

Mukul Kesavan is a writer, and his book of cricket, Men in White, will be published by Penguin India this year.


This debate is closed. Following is a selection of comments you sent.

It's difficult not to agree with Mukul Kesavan's well-written article. The media has to held responsible for the hype, without giving thought that there are at least half a dozen nations capable of winning the cup. The electronic media created the hype in order to whip up the passion and influence the corporates to increase spending on advertisement. Person who were fans became journalists and talked anything but cricket. In addition some of the players played for themselves. In a way it's good India lost to Sri Lanka, otherwise the world would put it down as a match fixed.
Khashi Nath, India

The author has correctly articulated the plight of cricket game in India and Pakistan. It is a national waste when virtually the whole country is glued to TV when the ODIs or even the tests are played. In this game, there is no sport now. There are no sportsmen. There is only the money. The debacle should trigger some positive thinking but I am not very hopeful.
Prof VN Asopa,

I quite agree with your article and would also add that some members of the Indian team are overrated, lacking the capacity to 'dig in' during tough times. The Pakistan team simply imploded with all the controversy; and then the death of the coach is almost the final nail in their coffin. I pick Sri Lanka to be in the finals; while we wait for more positive signs from our beloved West Indies.
Wendy Lawrence, Trinidad and Tobago

Not sure if it is good for cricket but it is certainly good for India. There is way too much craze for the game and this has starved other sports in the country. It's not healthy. Hope this creates opportunities for other sports.
Sammy, US

I totally agree. As an Indian, these days I doubt whether any match played by India or Pakistan is really "contested for" at all. Everyone tends to presume that every little happening on field is really a part of a bigger plan hatched by bookies. Its high time for India's populace to promote other sports as well and take some of the spotlight away from cricket.
Ashwin Datye, India

Nicely written but same old story. I hope this time though the BCCI takes a hard look at not only the players but reasons like the selection system, dead-as-a-dodo pitches, past glory over present form of players and the top most fitness levels. How are we to compete at all if majority of our players need to go off the field every five overs. We don't see that in the case of any other team and should take a leaf out of their books there. But everything said and done, please inject some youth.
Rohit Kaul, United States

This debacle should be a wake up call for all Indians. It is symptomatic of a society that is very poor in mindset and values. Indians should stop trying to find fault with everything around them and realise that the primary reason for their current situation in the world is themselves. The day when Indians accept the fact that they have a lot to fix about themselves the country will take a giant leap forward. Till then we will keep whitewashing ourselves into thinking that we are a world power either in cricket or IT or the economy.
Kiron, USA

With a heavy heart if I were the chairman of selection committee, I would drop Sachin Tendulkar and ask him to regain his place by scoring in domestic matches just like Saurav Ganguly.
Narendra.Pawar, India

An excellent article that unfortunately feels correct in its conclusions. I do not see how India and Pakistan can move away for their unhealthy emotional connection to their cricket teams unless other sports (like football) take more of the public's interest/obsession with the game. For example, if Australia do not win the World Cup, the cricket loving public will be very disappointed and there will be some media and internal cricket inquisitions but ultimately the focus will move to our winter sports (Aussie Rules, Rugby League and Union) and the loss will be put in its proper perspective. With India and Pakistan, with the lack of other national attention grabbing sports, the focus remains on your cricket team and this is in no-one's best interest. The only way around the betting issue is to play more tests and reduce the number of ODI's, which is not likely to happen given the money involved but for me, it is the only way to reduce the power of the sports gambling cliques and improve the performance of the Indian and Pakistan teams. Down Under, the view is that too much ODI cricket is played ahead of Test Cricket. Rightly or wrongly, it is felt in Australia that Test Cricket is the best teacher of the game and if you master this form of the game, ODI cricket will follow.
Paul Sikand, Australia

I am happy to see Bangladesh is coming up as a cricket giant. It is always nice to see new powers in any international tournament. Events like this (beating India and Bermuda) makes me feel proud and remind me of my roots. I don't understand cricket very well but I feel the emotion and love of the Bangladeshi cricket fans. Well done Bangladesh. I am looking forward to see more success stories. Congratulation both Bangladesh and Ireland.
Ripon, USA

India's victory in 1983 world cup reinvigorated cricket in the world, the results of which you are seeing today. If India had not arrived in 1983, then cricket was a dead sport played by the selected white men.
Vikram, USA

Excellent article Mukul! This is indeed true that the unnatural hype around cricket has been harmful to the players, to the game itself, and also to other sports too. Maybe Indian players would have played better (and, who knows, won) against Sri Lanka if they had not been under the threat of having their homes attacked if they lost. The fans need to realize that it is a sport after all, nothing more, nothing less. The media, too, needs to show responsibility. At the moment, TV channels in India spend hours giving useless analysis and opinions before and after a cricket match. It pains me to see that cricket makes front page news in a country facing far bigger problems. If only we could put our priorities in the right places...
Abhishek Saxena, United Kingdom

I agree with Mukul's comment completely In addition I have few more comments. I am a long-time avid follower of cricket-India following them through thick and thin over 20 years and I've decided to give up cricket-watching as a hobby after the toothless show last weekend. I've been fooling myself into thinking all-along that Indian team has the potential but don't play consistently but after a series of mediocre games I am convinced that they are not just capable and only play second and third-rung teams well. I am not going to give one more cent or spend one more hour of my time to this madness where 1 billion people are being cheated and held hostage to a cricket-team that is not any better than say Indian soccer or hockey. We are better off as a nation taking this billions of dollars and investing on other sports where we have a chance in the future. It is not just an angry outburst of a life-long cricket fan(atic) but someone who has become rational and realistic.br />Senthil Krishnapillai, USA

Sachin Tendulkar's time is up. He should depart from cricket.
Isha Miranda, Sri Lanka

I agree with Mukul. However, memory of Indian cricket fans are very short (so does advertisers, cricket board and selectors). In next home series, all the Indian featherbed batsmen will start making big scores on flat Indian pitches. So the whole thing will be back to square - the way it was before World Cup. The basic problem is that if India plays outside the Indian subcontinent Indian batsmen simply don't have any chance. Didn't we lose against weak West Indies last time? Didn't we lose at Malaysia couple of months back? Then the players came back and defeated Sri Lanka in home grounds. Then we thought India has potential of winning World Coup. What a joke! Bottom-line, Indian batsmen simply cannot play abroad. So what was the reason for hoping this World Cup will be any different from last West Indies tour or Malaysia tour or last Australia tour or last South Africa tour?
PKD, US

We are not minnows anymore!
Ehsan, Bangladesh

Readers do expect articles devoid of such flashy rhetoric and better judgement and understanding from these senior cricket experts. Every single time India has played poor cricket to lose a tournament, a line of calls for change is imminent. Suggesting that the game in India has suddenly become a Frankenstein, or that the talent we have in India is rotten, or that this will help cleanse the dirt in the system or that Indian players are suddenly physically unfit is quite clearly hyperbole rather than any good sense. What if India had gone on to the next round or even all the way? Yes in the aftermath of this early exit, some tough decisions regarding the performances of players will and must happen, but to suggest that the game as a whole in India has come to some form of cross-roads reflects badly on the larger scale and scheme of cricket in India. The game will go on. To imagine that we need to exorcise some demons in the closet is an exercise in panic and hallucination.
Srihari Janakiraman, India

The fact that the cricketing world can be celebrating the exit of two of its most popular and richest teams, akin to say football celebrating the exit of Italy or Brazil in the 1st round speaks volumes. This is surely part of the breather that cricket needs from the stifling influence of the sub-continent on the game.
Ryan Ramoutar, Trinidad and Tobago

I am very much delighted to see India and Pakistan knocked out in the first round and they should learn lessons from the Sri Lankan cricket team who not only play well but also very professional and have respect for their coach and team-mates. I had few opportunities to meet Sri Lankan cricketers and sensed their team spirit. Go Sri Lanka Go for the Cup. You deserve it again.
Balan Nadarajah, Canada

It is a well written article high lighting the blind following of cricket in India. Damaging the property of the cricketers is not going to bring out the best in them. Also, there has been too much interference from advertisers. Otherwise, how can a physically unfit Pathan can be selected? It is time India started looking at youngsters for future.
Sangu Narayanan, Canada

The only way to teach a lesson to the Indian players is to boycott the products that these players peddle day in and day out. You cannot watch a minute of TV without Sachin peddling something. It is obscene.
Hero Honda, U.S.A

It was the over confident and over cautious approach which caused the debacle and its really unfortunate. I think neither Bangladesh nor Ireland is going to perform any better further in the tournament.
Ashutosh Joshi, UK

Every country has a sport which its citizens are passionate about and every country has also had its major upsets in the sport they think they are doing well. Just because India and Pakistan lost does not mean you have to condemn their cricket fans! What about football fans in Europe. Do you tell them that they are wasting their time every weekend when they go crazy over their beloved football clubs?
Ashok Patel, Milton Keynes, UK

We follow cricket as a religion and players as God. It's not a game for "sahibs" anymore. It's for the masses!!!
Puneet, United States

I just hope that cricket loses all its hype and the mass hysteria that it generates in the subcontinent and people can get on with their lives without having to experience unnecessary emotional turmoil and resort to burning of effigies and indulge in mindless protests.
Raghu Bindinganavale, UK

I think Indians are themselves to blame. We expect too much from Team India. Each player is an immensely talented individually but as a team they are a bunch of losers. Except India they never win in good numbers and every Indian knows this pretty well but still we hope a lot from them. I truly agree with Steve Waugh's latest statement that players from sub-continent especially from India just plays for their own record and not as a team or that matter for our country. We got to stop expecting from Team India.
Gaurav Sharma, Canada

I agree with most of the article and would like to add that even before TV came on the scene, there was much passion for the sport in India, and in the subcontinent. During Test Matches, people often huddled around transistor radios and keenly followed the game. A lot of work at offices was left pending due to this diversion. As for the present exit of India and Pakistan from the 2007 World Cup, personally I would like to move on and enjoy the rest of the tournament. I shall be cheering for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and see how far they will go knowing that in the end the best oiled machine will make it to the top, most probably Australia. National pride apart, folks need to sit back and enjoy the sport.
Rajiv Bakshi, Saudi Arabia

According to your article, Pakistanis and Indians are toxic and as such a poor reflection on cricket. Spoken like the perfect colonial slave that would have done everything to keep cricket 'gora'. I'm disappointed and agitated by your article.
Jawwad Riaz, Pakistan

Very simple solution - If we don't win the match then every team player should be banned from doing ads. And this should be enforced for three years.
Gurudaas, India

The truth is there is no aggression among the Indian cricket players. Losing is their habit and it's ongoing. Now we cant blame a coach for everything. It feels like no coach can help India win the World Cup. Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly should now stop playing. Get youngsters.
Reetesh Bhasin, Pune, India

I tend to agree with you. The ODIs have changed the complexion of the sport by moving it in a profoundly different direction. Cricket has become more and more like football or rugby - it starts and ends at well-defined intervals. For these reasons, illegal gamblers and match-fixing bookies can make a bundle of money in a very short time period. Moreover, cricket is increasingly being played by well-paid professional players, who don't have the same pride in carrying their country's flag as did former cricket players, who were for the most part, either non-professionals or part-time professionals. I say good riddance to India's and Pakistan's cricket teams from this World Cup! They don't deserve to stay around a day longer.
Mobiusein, USA

This is a very bigoted look at the emergence of cricket as a mass-viewed sport in the sub-continent. Perhaps the author is longing for the days of yore when the 'sahibs' played in a gentlemanly fashion. Watching India's win in 1983 as a child, I was just thrilled to watch Indians win, that's all. The conclusion that cricket took off in South Asia because of its 'chauvinistic' and 'gladiatorial' qualities is a far reach. Couldn't you say that about any sport? Like football in Britain or for that matter, women's football in the US?
Mo, India

I believe that the Indian public are stuck with mediocrity in many aspects of life and perhaps cricket tops that list. I hope that Indians will snap out of it - at least with respect to cricket.
Sai P., USA

India's defeat is like a blessing in disguise. First of all, the advertisers will sit back and think before they sign any player. Secondly the players too will become grounded now. I have nothing against players involved in commercial activities, but this is taking precedence over the actual game of cricket. Further I fail to understand why players like VVS Laxman and Mohammed Kaif were left out of the squad?. Players like Sachin and Saurav should resign now and give way to new players.
Ravi Chandra Kota, Switzerland

This early exit would act as blessing in disguise to ponder where we really stand in world cricket.
Abhijeet Chaudhari, India

I feel relaxed that we are out of the World Cup. I love cricket, not cricketers any more. Let new champions emerge from this cup.
T Chandra Sekhar, India

First of all lets get this straight, bookies are everywhere. Their headquarters may be in South Asia but that doesn't mean they do not do buisness elsewhere. Secondly, the part about the dysfunctional giants was uncalled for. Sri Lanka played well, so did the Bangladeshis. Hence they deserved a place in the super eight. Instead of unnecessary rhetoric it would be good if we all made up our minds and supported the remaining two Asian contenders rather than just stand and bicker.
Madhusudan, India

While there is a lot of truth in what is in the article, let us not forget that cricket unites India like no other single thing or event, and gives the poor of the nation something to feel proud about. I think the World Cup format must be looked at where in effect one poor performance led to India's demise (assuming that the game against SL was aways 50:50). Now they are going to have 24 super eight games! May be it would be better to have more pool games and the top team from each group met in a round robin of the top four teams.
Vish, New Zealand

This was a great article. India has taken cricket to a whole new level beyond sports- and its not healthy. Their exit can give other teams a chance to play and focus on the game of cricket - not on the players themselves. India is too obsessive it terms of cricket and it needs to end.
Miriam, USA

As long as cricket retains mass appeal (and associated betting revenues) the potential for corruption will remain. Look at the continual allegations of corruption in the European football leagues.
Dilip, UK

We need to face the fact that this was the best team we could have sent to the World Cup. Pick any other 11 players and that would have probably lost to Bermuda as well. What we need is for BCCI to show some sort of accountability and own up to this disaster.
Rohit Tanwar, India

Betting, bookies are part of any big popular sports, corruption is unavoidable in any big entity, whether it is football, cricket, a nation or a construction company. Cricket was clean in the past because it was also less popular and involved little money, now it has grown up in its popularity and economy especially because of popularity and economic growth in the Indian subcontinent. Corruption is unavoidably involved as big money involved, just like in football. But that doesn't mean that the countries, which brought the passion and money to the sport should stay out. Cricket is benefiting from the passionate Indian fans and the growing Indian economy; it would certainly huge losses if ICC loose the Indian cricket and Indian fans. Probably Mr. Kesavan should invest his precious time in helping ICC and BCCI to plan strategies to prevent corruption rather than writing such comments.
Sachin, Germany

I cannot agree more with you. Finally, a sensible person analysing the game from the true perspective instead of indulging only in glorification of the overrated players. Thank you so much for the article!
Adithya, USA

The Indian people who compare their cricketing heroes with gods should realise that cricket is just a game.
Raveethiraraja Nirrushan, Sri Lanka

We should not worry too much or get upset. We have to accept that our players will not bring glory. So why cry about it?
Romi Budhrani, Taipei, Taiwan

Let us hope that the disgrace in the West Indies will help eliminate the present lot and bring true and committed players into the team.
G.Kalamannil, India

The sloppiness of the Indian team was clearly revealed in the World Cup. They rightly do not deserve to qualify.
Shabu Varghese, Qatar

India and Pakistan have taken cricket beyond sports. I agree with you with India and Pakistan out, we will see a more sporting contest. The two countries need to popularise football, hockey, maybe baseball.
Naveed Khan, USA

One less great team to stop us winning the World Cup, which is so rightfully ours! Bring it on!
Alistair, Australia

Good article. Too much of advertisements and too much of sponsorship for the current Indian players. Too much of media hype. Waste of money and waste of time. India has to learn a lesson and start promoting other games.
N Ramanathan, Ghana

Big business must also take some of the blame for this mass hysteria. Huge amounts of money are spent by consumer giants to plug their products and whip up chauvinism by tag-lines like "One in a billion, hoo-hah India" and such disgustingly banality. Show some corporate responsibility for heaven's sake !!
Jay Amrith, Singapore

It is unfortunate that Mukul Kesavan has misunderstood the fact that the process of betting is a phenomenon which is as old as the world's oldest profession. The failure of the Indian and Pakistani teams in this world cup does not mean that betting and corruption is removed completely and hence make it less toxic! Such corrupt practices would exist in any other country too but the intensity of finger pointing and blame game would not be the same as the writers and journalist of many countries are responsible and would love to nurture the game and not kill the enthusiastic supporters. I would continue to watch cricket, support India and Pakistan no matter.
Praveen Ashokan, UAE

It's time we faced the grim realities and realised that India is not the giant killer it is made out to be.
A Narayanan, India

As an ex Londoner who had the good fortune of watching cricket at the Oval and Lords in the forties and fifties it is sad to see that the moral principles of the game have been lost. I was taught to walk and understood the honorable concept of fair play. Hopefully the concept expressed in the article that Test cricket is not subject to the same corruption is valid as to me at least, it is the ultimate expression of the totally demanding sport. It requires skill, stamina,intellect and integrity. If indeed Bob Woolmers death is in any way associated with the game it is a cancer that needs to be removed. Another instance that sport has become entertainment and big business. The character building aspects of sport have been lost again. Cricket is becoming another TV and gambling mecca. Goodbye Grace, Bradman and Hammond.
John, USA

In a way its blessing in disguise - in today's resurgent India, we need more productivity, rather than be glued to TV. We need to move on, and rather become more physically fit, than become obese, by watching cricket. We should not pass on cricket fever to our young generation.
Hanif Mohammed, Dubai, UAE

It is time we disregarded the players in both good and bad times. There are many other people who contribute much more to the nation and are not even paid one tenth of what our mediocre cricketeers are paid.
Subhash Kaul, India

I watched many matches featuring India and Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup - also one with Sri Lanka, but no Bangladesh to my regret. The Sri Lankans were, I thought, really in touch with the spirit of the game - doing their stellar best, enjoying everything, applauding their opponents' good moments. Wonderful! Then came India. Very passionate spectators, mostly good-humoured and well informed, happy to chat and nice to meet; but nobody seemed to find it strange when people wandered around holding placards proclaiming the unfortunate Sachin Tendulkar as a god. How do they expect him to perform, or even eat his breakfast, with those expectations on his shoulders? As a proud but baffled South African, I'd love to see Sri Lanka do really well - perhaps lose to us in the final?
Deborah Hubbard, South Africa

As someone who grew up in the 50's and 60's following cricket, mainly Test cricket, I cannot agree more with Mukul Kesavan. It is a shame to see the behaviour of so called fans in India. The players, spoiled by pampering and unlimited advertising incomes, are spoilt. A drubbing like the one they received was needed - for the players, the fans and the Indian Cricket Control Board all of whom seem to have forgotten that cricket is a game not a war that threatens to exterminate the nation.
Ajay Malik, Switzerland

I am very happy that Indian fans got what they deserve to follow a game without sensibility.
Saurabh Kaushik, India

I have seen this Indian team crumble so many times. Everybody says that Indian viewers drive this game. So I have decided not to watch any one day matches involving India. It is better to see a match between Australia vs. South Africa where there is no heart break and emotion involved.
Jatender Koul, India

Test cricket is not another sport. Its a different form of the same sport. In my view Pakistan and India need new sports. It can't just be cricket 365 days of the year. In America we have so much to choose from. There are leagues of professional and college football, basketball, baseball and even soccer. South Asia has a fifth of the world's population so why can't they come up with other sports?
Fawad Arain, USA

India could not have chosen a better World Cup to be beaten out of. Beating Pakistan is the real thrill - that shiny trophy is only a secondary consideration. The English, with their relative attitudes to the Ashes and the World Cup, will empathise.
Manosij Majumdar, Canada

It is time India and Pakistan put their cricketing house in order - fair administration and selection and an end to political horse trading. More importantly, they need to understand the ethics of sport itself. Better to congratulate the winners and commiserate with the losers rather than resort brainlessly to death threats!
Phil, Hong Kong

Great article. The chauvinism in India has not only percolated into cricket, but into many other areas and it is high time, India realises and sets its priorities right and concentrates on the real problems of the country. The corruption is so loathsome in this country and no wonder it has spoiled the game of cricket.
Vijay, India

The sad fact is players are now over paid, over-pampered and seem to have forgotten that the game and specatators matter more than them. In 1974 as a 14 year old I saw Pakistan play England for the first time at Lords. It was a gripping match which ended in a draw but had some memorable bowling by Derek Underwood. On the Saturday I was there, it started raining at 2:30 and did not stop. We waited for the players to come out for autographs, and they finally went to their coach at 6:30 pm. Intikhab Alam, the captain, saw me and a few other young boys drenched waiting for the team. He stopped the coach, asked me on board and got every member of the team to give me an autograph. He then told me to be a good boy and go straight home! Cut to 2006 and the Saturday of the Lords Test. Memorable innings from Yousuf. This time I took my 10 year old lad with me. He wanted autographs so he and about 10 other boys (mostly English) waited. At 7:00 pm we were told the Pakistan team had left via a separate entrance and in any case were not giving autographs. Perhaps the players need to learn some dignity and respect for young fans, who are the future of the sport.
Ejaz , UK

I think media is largely responsible for boosting Indian players' egos. A good score against a weak team and they are treated like superstars and their whole family comes into limelight. Its the media who makes the players God
Piyush Suri, United Kingdom

Stop cricket for a while and please divert funds to other games.
Dr B Dilip Kumar, Iraq

And dont really understand the crib of the influence of South Asian nations on cricket. If the money comes from India, it will and has to be the power center. If they cant manage, then the game is gone.
Dhananjaya, London

God Save Indian cricket.
Eswar Ramachandran, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

I was a cricket fan once to the extend that I had a scrapbook that contained score sheets of all test matches. This was around 1995-87, when I was 13-15 years old. But after watching the soccer world cup in 1998, my interest in cricket reduced to such a level that I watched cricket only when Tendulkar was batting. After the 2002 soccer world cup, it reduced even further. My only regret in life is that I wasted too much time watching cricket. Now I don't even understand how can people prefer cricket to games like soccer or for that matter even kabbadi. As far as I could see this cricket addiction is more dangerous than drug addiction. It is tough to get out and you waste too much time.
Sujith Babu, India

Legalise betting and give more importance to games like football and tennis.
Dinesh, Ahmedabad, India

Europe and South America have the same attitude to football and Americans to their football. So we are entitled to our sins. Yes the game should be purified and the bookies abolished. But do not throw the baby with the bath water.
Sanjaya Das, India

I guess this is the best thing which has happened to Indian cricket. A few things which need to change - 1. the zonal selection process. 2.Amount of money that is associated with cricket.That has to come down drastically if the pressure on players to perform has to come down. 3.The hype by the media of being the best batting line up etc which is utter trash. (Its almost nine years since Sachin has scored a match winning knock in a crucial tie(except for the not to so important word cup 2003 match against Pakistan).For almost three to four years now he doesn't deserve to be called the world's greatest batsman. 4.Stop critisizing Greg Chappell(or any foreign coach).At least they bring in some sort of professionalism which we indians lack.
Chetan Appannagari, India






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