The Hindu Lit for Life 2018

Cricket, by and large, is a level playing field today

(Left to right) Suresh Menon, N. Ram, Rajdeep Sardesai and K. Srikkanth.   | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

Cricket and its nuances were amply dissected over two days at Lit for Life. A macroscopic perspective on India’s cricketing demographics, with merit being its driving force, along a microscopic analysis of how a player stays in the ‘zone’, a higher state of self-awareness leading to excellence, were discussed extensively.

In the session ‘Beyond runs and wickets: The great Indian cricket story’ on Sunday, senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai pointed out that despite the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) inherent flaws, there was still a robust system in place, which paved the way for an M.S. Dhoni to emerge from Ranchi.

Just as in his book Democracy’s XI, Sardesai said: “Politics is about family connections. On the other hand, cricket has broken the wall of class, region and religion.” Sardesai admitted that he could never step into his father Dilip Sardesai’s Test cricketing shoes, because he simplywasn’t good enough. “Unlike an Abhishek Bachchan who got into films, I couldn’t get into Tests,” Sardesai said.

N. Ram, Chairman, The Hindu Publishing Group, echoed his views but added a cautionary note: “There have been conflicts of interest within the BCCI. We have heard stories about people saying that ‘you have to play for my team otherwise you won't have a chance,’ especially in the Indian Premier League (IPL). That said, by and large, it is a level playing field today.”

Former India captain and member of the 1983 World Cup winning team, K. Srikkanth, declared that passion anchors the sport. “Television takes cricket into the rural villages and because of that, cricket has become big. Cricketers don’t go after money, money comes after cricketers. They all play with the same passion today,” Srikkanth said.

Acclaimed sports writer Suresh Menon, who moderated the session, concluded with the sobering observation that excessive commercialisation and abridged versions could hurt Test cricket. Menon was again in the thick of things on Monday when he gently nudged former England captain Mike Brearley to speak about his book On Form. Menon read a fan’s mail from the early 1980s, which suggested that Brearley seemed to have had the power to even adjust the sun’s position while England fielded. The session, ‘In the Zone: Talking about On Form’, reflected Brearley’s measured words and depth of critical thought.

Brearley juxtaposed emotional intelligence with form, or the lack of it. “Being ‘in the zone’ could be a well-executed cover-drive, it could be a singular moment, while form is more long-lasting,” he said. Simultaneously, he added that a player could also be in the zone for a longer period like it happened with former England captain Michael Atherton during his unbeaten 185 against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1995. Brearley, however, cautioned that being in the ‘zone’ at times can go beyond exhilaration and stray into complacence.

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Printable version | Jul 20, 2021 1:21:08 PM |

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