It doesn’t mean that all is suddenly well with Indian cricket.
It doesn’t imply that we have in a moment of catharsis elevated our spiritual selves.
It doesn’t rid us of the unease about Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s strange business dealings with a firm that manages his own colleagues.
It doesn’t mean the end of scandal in Indian cricket.
But the Indian team’s last-ball win in the ICC Champions Trophy is the kiss of the beloved. It’s the clemency that frees the condemned. It’s the nurse’s touch that heals the sick. It’s the comma that breaks a heartrending sentence.
It is, quite simply, the first moment of unalloyed delight in a year of tempest.
As we reel week to week, we have reason to pause and feel good. And as we thus bask, we may take away a few lessons our cricketers taught us from England.
If you do it the right way, the honours will come. There was no tinkering with the team. There was no sloth; no arrogance. Just old school commitment and new school bluster. They put their heads down and took it on the chin. When they hit back, they knocked the opponent out. Five matches, five wins.
When fortune is with you, remember the hapless. Shikhar Dhawan said the sweetest words of the tournament. Presented with the Golden Bat for scoring the most runs in the tournament, he dedicated it to the victims of the Uttarakhand flood and landslides. It was the first time anyone in the team spoke of it and it seemed wholly appropriate. Now, if only they would pass on their championship earnings to the relief fund.
Stick with sense; it’s the biggest asset. Dhoni’s words were loaded with wisdom. “I told them not to look up because god is not coming down to save you. We are the number 1 team; let’s play like one.” “What’s important for me is how we play the next game.” Great insights on how to trust yourself each time and keep doing what you have to.
Don’t waste a second chance. Because you won’t get a third one. Shikhar Dhawan is senior to a few players in this team who have firmed their reputations and team spots far more than he has. He was lost the first time. Now, he is on a roll. He is playing like every match may be his last. The results are showing. He’s a star. His square cuts with both feet in the air are the most spectacular sight in recent times. Only Roy Fredericks of the West Indies played this shot in the 1970s. It’s magic.
Use what is given to you. Indian cricket grounds used to be more brown than green. Horrible, uneven and often full of holes. The players would never risk injury by diving or sliding. We didn’t have a world class fielder until MAK Pataudi came along. But now, this team has been described as the best fielding side in the world. They have green grounds to practice on. They dive. They slide. They give it their best.
Tough times don’t last. The tough do. When he first went on tour outside India, Rohit Sharma had no money. He couldn’t shop for his family; he used to watch and hop along while his teammates shopped at will. But he saved what he earned. With each subsequent tour, he had more money and more chances. He is still not all there but he’s getting better. He is part of winning combinations and has even grown as Mumbai Indians captain.
You are your best parent. Virat Kohli was a teenager when his father died. His cricketing rise has come entirely in the absence of a father. You can see the rough edges of a man who grew on his own. There are times when he snarls on field. He often hurls the abuses when he reaches a milestone. It’s the release of a man who probably has no one to let his guard down with. So he does it in public, when least expected. He’s already been captain of a world cup winning Under-19 team and of an IPL franchise. He is learning from each mistake. His father would approve.
When you lose those you love, look around. Maybe a higher power is with you. Ravindra Jadeja is the son of a watchman. His mother died when he was in his teens. He almost quit cricket. But he hung on. He was vice-captain of a world cup winning Under-19 team. He is an IPL millionaire. He has three triple hundreds. Now, he is growing into an all-rounder we might finally relax with. All he has is a captain’s faith and a series of coincidences. They say a coincidence is a higher power at work. Maybe they’re right.
Renown and ridicule are impostors. ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same’ wrote Kipling in his immortal poem If. Who knows what that one over may have done to Ishant Sharma. No one in the world wanted him to bowl it except for Dhoni. He got hammered for a six and delivered two consecutive wides. And then the two wickets that turned the championship. One day he’ll be a man. And this may be where it all began.
These are some of the wonderful things we can take back from the Champions Trophy win.
We don’t know what our players will do in the times ahead. We don’t know what wrongs they may have already done. Some of them will return to be questioned by the BCCI on financial dealings.
But this much we know. For a few days, these players made us forget our dark sides. They made us smile in the midst of frowns. They reminded us that India has talent.
They gave us a story we can pass on to those who come after us. For this, we are grateful.
More from the author:
Why I stopped buying newspapers
The 5 villains of the Uttarakhand disaster
100 real life Indian blockbusters we’d love to read
If I were Rahul Gandhi now
Naxals and India: Cry for the dead, but do this too
Vijay Simha is an independent journalist and sobriety campaigner based out of New Delhi. His most recent journalism assignment was as executive editor with The Financial World, New Delhi, and tehelka.com.
He was a guest on Season 1 of the popular Indian TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Aamir Khan.
Vijay blogs here and may be cont acted at firstname.lastname@example.org.