The Cricket World Cup is still a year away!
April 30, 2006
by Aparajith Ramnath
England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher apparently knows more or less whom he would want on his squad for the 2007 World Cup in the Carribean. India is busy trying to develop a squad of multi-talented cricketers who would be a force to reckon with in the quadrennial gala. All the cricketing world, it seems, is walking as in a trance towards that sacred tournament, taking in the various international series that dot the path towards it as a traveller to the Lighthouse of Alexandria might view the streetlamps of Cairo.
Pretty soon, India will travel to the West Indies for a full-fledged tour with Tests and ODIs. England has another Ashes series this year. Both are very important tours; an Indian tour of the West Indies comes along once every five years or so at best, and the Ashes has historically been one of the most intense of rivalries. And yet, reading all the reports in the media and all the sound bytes that are thrown around these days, you would think that these are but incidental events, almost practice grounds for the hallowed World Cup next year. Granted, there is some merit in having a long-term vision and working towards it. And yet, is not winning the best preparation? And to this end, it is important to concentrate on the task at hand, which is to win the current series. That would mean not going blindly with clichés like ‘developing a team for the future.’ As Asterix fans know only too well, tomorrow never comes. When the future arrives, it will be the present. One thing that this tells us – or rather emphasises, for it is a fact that we know well – is that there is too much cricket being played. If an international tour starts looking tame and uninteresting, if teams look at a one-day international as the laboratory for their alchemical – read World Cup – pursuits, why have the match in the first place?
That of course, is an idealistic question. The pragmatist will point out that this is the way of the cricketing world, that the jam-packed calendar is here to stay. Well then, if that be the case, it is important that teams learn to look at every match as a separate and important entity. The prevailing eye-on-the-future attitude, I think, mirrors a general trend that is to be found outside of the sport as well. It is an all-too common phenomenon, especially among my generation, to plan obsessively for the future to an extent that one forgets entirely to savour the present. Everyone has lofty ambitions; ambitions that are the real-world equivalent of wanting to win the World Cup. CEO by thirty-five, billionaire by forty – that kind of thing. Indeed, this might be admirable. But it should not preclude stopping to smell the roses.