The day after an Indian ODI match or a test was always special, all the more important if India had won that match. Because the newspapers would come out with a grand article singing praises out in bold and burying the negativities in the details. Especially more with shitty newspapers like Times Of India who would surround such articles with a grand winning picture on the front page, with multiple articles and opinions on the Sports section.
This ritual used to be vital because of the inherent flaws with our cricket team. We had heroes, and a floundering team otherwise. We made mistakes, we were always catching up to the other team, whether it be in terms of the bowling, batting or fielding aspects. Matches were won by special innings by singular individuals, or by a mix of luck and bad performance by the opposite team covering up the mistakes of the Indian team. We weren’t that bad, on paper we always had a great team and hence expectations were always high, but we always never seem to meet them.
Hence the role of the newspaper articles – they made us forget the flaws, and revel in the small joys of a win for a day or two; or maybe even a week. It made people forget the flaws of the recent win; the gaps in our bowling and fielding attack, the failed attempts of the other batsmen in making this an easy win. Hope was rekindled again for the next game. Always.
There would be reasonable logic filled articles too. By critics, and by former cricketers who would point out the areas of improvement, ‘star’ players who have consistently been playing bad, and the need for change. One would generally treat such articles as if they were part of the editorial section. These articles would truthfully point out how we should have probably lost them, but for the opposite team’s mistakes.
We are in new territory.
It is a flash in the pan – critics would tell you. Or the nagging colleague who sits next to you and always has an opinion on everything that walks or moves. We have been here several times, as indicated by when the Indian team has been at the top of the rankings over the years, and winning matches at home and overseas. 2001, 2007, 2011, and several more.
But this is different.
Look at the recent series – we lost in South Africa, we lost in England (the home series don’t even matter). But the fact of the matter was we lost matches that we had almost won.
And we seem to have an all-around team, led by a booze slinged coach, and a cocky captain who seems to know how to talk sense in the post-match sessions without giving out too much away on his players, irrespective of whether we played well or badly.
And for once, I’m looking forward to reading overseas newspaper articles, especially of those in the host countries. Give it a try. You might feel the familiar feeling of being here in the past.