The Indian team could not have timed the Asian Champions Trophy win any better for it came as a balm to the nerves in the wake of the tumult of the preceding weeks. If anything, nobody quite missed Sardara Singh and Sandeep Singh, who had walked out of the pre-tournament camp in a huff and were banned for two years, but subsequently, the suspension was revoked after the duo reportedly tendered written apologies.
I quite liked coach Nobbs' assertion that the two players would need to prove their fitness and also back their words of regret with good behaviour if they hope to return to the national squad that faces a busy period ahead with a tour of Australia before next year's Olympic qualifier.
The Champions Trophy success proved the fact that Indian hockey never suffered for want of talent. Rather, the growth has been drastically stunted due to gross mismanagement, something that the critics have been harping on. For all that, hockey has survived and enjoys a fair bit of following across India though individually, the players might not enjoy fan following unlike their counterparts in cricket.
Yet, the current generation of Indian hockey players have plenty of spunk and refuse to be taken for granted. It was heartening that the team refused Hockey India's "gesture" of Rs 25,000 per player for having won the Champions Trophy. To say the least, it was disgraceful on the part of HI to make such a paltry offer while citing inadequate bank balance as an excuse.
The point is that it has been over two years since Hockey India usurped and assumed control of the game and it is obvious that the authorities have done precious little to secure funds by way of sponsorship or marketing the game. The situation is a telling indictment of those in charge and their inability to govern the sport in a befitting manner.
Hockey governance is in sharp contrast to that of cricket. Though the BCCI can be very insensitive to criticism of their player management system or the lack of it, at least, the funds seem to be flowing in all the time. The BCCI has shown a net profit of over Rs 100 crore in the past financial year and they can justifiably feel proud of it.
However, what is objectionable is the assertion of the BCCI that there is no need to inquire into the disastrous tour of England. There was not even a pretence of repentance at the AGM and elections that threw up expected results with N Srinivasan taking over as the president.
The Board has publicly declared that the players have the option to pick and choose tours and, more importantly, it has been decided not to have a post-mortem of the tour of England. Thus, forget introspection or even a thought as to what went wrong or is going wrong with the Indian team. So much for being sensitive to the ebb and flow of the sport!
Honestly, nothing ever surprises me with regard to our great cricket Board that believes in letting sleeping dogs lie rather than stir them up for fear of them turning into a hunting pack. The glibness with which the Board has dismissed and swept the England tour under the carpet without so much as a thought to the fatigue factor is indeed worrisome, but then, the bosses really don't seem to care so long as the dollars keep flowing into the BCCI coffers.
On the one hand, our batsmen stood cruelly exposed on the England tour, but with so many on the injured list, it had to be expected that the morale would nose-dive with the players simply giving into the inevitable, despite the odd individual defiance.
Now with the Champions League having begun, the England tour will be consigned to the dust-bin of history. The T20 slam-bang would probably provide some cheer for the masses, but rest assured that when the serious stuff begins post the Champions League when England and West Indies travel to India and we later tour Australia, we will have enough indicators as where exactly Indian cricket stands.
Ditto with Indian hockey as the national team is to tour Down Under and face the tough task of qualifying for the London Olympics. But right now, it is time for some entertainment and fun stuff, and oh yes, a bit of cricket too!