Most successful sportsman will tell you that while it is difficult to reach the top, it is even more difficult to stay there for a significant amount of time. There have been many Indian sportsmen who have had success but very rarely have they managed to sustain that success for a period of time. That is why the achievement of Vishwanathan Anand stands out as unique among Indian sportsman.
To win a world championship in a global sport like chess is tremendous but to win it 5 times is mind boggling. Vishwanathan Anand must be the most unlucky and the most under rated sportsman in the world. Very rarely is credit given to this magnificent sportsman in his own country. While other sportsman enjoy accolades and rewards, Anand remains low key, probably concentrating on his next world title. Anand is possibly India’s greatest sportsman but apart from his sporting ability what sets him apart his humility and dignity. No self praising press conferences, no ceremonies to honour himself, no flashy statements- Anand is a sportsman and likes to remain a sportsman.
Unfortunately dignity was missing from the final stages of India’s biggest cricket tournament. I am no IPL fan but even I have to admit that this year’s IPL produced some great cricket. Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma showed that the future of Indian batting was safe, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel showed the world why they are the best fast bowling pair in the world and it was great to see the old timers- Murali, Dravid and Gilchrist rewind the clock for a bit. Unfortunately it was again overshadowed by events off the field. Any sport is in great trouble if the non-sporting personalities overshadow the sporting ones. As the Kolkata Knight riders achieved an incredible victory, I was delighted for Manoj Tiwary, a young Bengali batsman who has found that sometimes fate has not been too kind to him. I wanted to hear what the so called experts thought of this young man now that he had led his team to an incredible victory in a tense final. Instead to my dismay I found that a lot of concentration was based on the bollywood superstar who owned KKR. The bollywood superstar had perhaps endured a lot over the last few years and had a right to celebrate. The focus should have been on cricket and cricketers, instead it was on superstars and actors.
Every individual has the right to support and celebrate a team’s victory. But it is important for regional governmental authorities to recognize the difference between the victory of a corporate brand and a regional team. KKR’s victory was a victory for its corporate franchise and its brand. It was great that some authorities recognized and rewarded the team and its franchise for this victory. But almost six months ago, a young Bengal team went on to win the Ranji Trophy one day tournament. In cricketing terms it was a more significant victory but alas nobody bothered to acknowledge this win………….
Nevertheless it was wonderful to see Gautam Gambhir display the kind of leadership that only vindicated the stand that I had put up on blog a few months back. Gambhir without doubt should be India’s next test captain. While his captaincy was refreshing, what stood out was his ability to lead from the front and his refreshing honesty. The IPL victory was a triumph for Gautam Gambhir and his players-and it should be recognized only as that.
Indian cricket faces a monumental year ahead. Twelve home test matches provide an opportunity to rectify the misdeeds of the last one year. In Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara Rohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni, India has the raw material to build another successful team. The approach and the attitude need to be correct for this to be achieved.