Headless Chicken

Updated: Nov 28 2006, 08:33am hrs
This has been a fascinating week for cricket. Indias performance in South Africa is beginning to make Wadekars series in England look glamorous. It may have to do with the fact that bell-bottoms are coming back in fashion. Or crushed skirts. Or maybe it is all that cola they claim they drink, and then endorse between trips to the heads. Our players bladders must be as weak as their spines. Whatever, one would think they cant see the balls. Personally, I dont much care for the eventual result of the game, having lived and worked in Sharjah when much younger. But, obviously I am in a minority, as everyone else in India seems to be up in arms. Even in the Big Round Building next to the Palace on Raisina Hill. I am told by my friends in the railway canteen, they are sending the Colonel from Poddar to South Africa. Hope for his sake it is not via Dubai. Vengsarkar goes as a representative of the Indian government, the nearest option to South Africa is Antarctica, and penguins there really dont care for cricketthey do collect small round stones as a symbol of love. The countrys reputation is at stake.

Which is strange. If my memory works, our cricket team is actually some sort of private limited company or society or undefined flexible esoteric entity, not accountable in any way to anyone but themselves. To quote a similar letter I got from the Indian Olympics Association, a much poorer body than the Board of Cricket Control for India, these matters are nobody elses business, as they pertain to affiliates of international committees. The Government of India, and therefore by default the people of India, have nothing to do with the running and managing of the game.

Why we have a ministry of youth affairs and sports is, thus, unknown. The canteen staff at Shastri Bhavan tell me they guess the ministries are only for ministers. Like when we were in schoolthe person who owned the bat and the ball made the rules and we played at his mercy. But even then, we did not have to stroke or wash those balls.

Thats how the game has changed over the years. Dec-ades ago, Vengsarkar said of his team-mates, They are tigers until they step outside the country. Implying that at least within the country, they played the balls properly. Now, he has to deal with a team that seems to have lost sight of its balls. Or maybe they have none Now I must ask the minister eating dosas outside. How many balls of sugar in his filter coffee