After the high of the inaugural Formula One Indian Grand Prix comes the low of the latest chapter in match-fixing in cricket. If one was a dream come true, then the other is a nightmare that sport can do without.
Now that the F1 circus has winged its way to the next stop, Abu Dhabi, the promoters Jaypee Group and the FMSCI, as also us Indians, can heave a collective sigh of relief that the event passed off with Swiss precision, though off the track, a lot still needs to be sorted out.
A few friends of mine from Bangalore and Chennai spent a fortune attending the GP. They did enjoy the experience of a Formula One race, but felt that a lot required to be done to provide better comforts for the paying public.
It was not just the drivers who complained about the dust, but so also the spectators who, besides being fleeced by food vendors inside the circuit, had to contend with patched-up facilities that were far from complete. "Anyway, we are used to adjusting, but hope that the facilities would improve for next year," said one of my friends who had planned his trip from Canada to coincide with the Indian GP and of course, Diwali.
While it is to be expected that the race programme itself would be gone through without a hitch as per the FIA template, Jaypee deserve a round of applause for putting up a facility that is bound to give a leg-up for motorsport in India.
The flowing corners, especially turns 10 through 12, besides the 1.2 km undulating back straight, received wholesome praise from the drivers among whom winner Vettel and Button predicted that the Indian GP would become a favourite F1 destination in the future. By the looks of it, it could well happen as the potential is very much there.
Vettel, for one, is turning out to be not just an iconic champion in the footsteps of fellow-German Michael Schumacher, but also a person whose maturity goes beyond his 24 years. His comments on his Indian experience, like those of Schumacher, would have swelled his fan following in our country. In effect, both pointed out that while Europeans might be materialistically rich, the Indians were richer in happiness.
Vettel's drive was just fantastic and that is to put it mildly. To think that he can hammer down the fastest lap at the very end of the 60-lap race was simply unbelievable while it reflected his stamina and commitment. It was as flawless an exhibition as one can expect to see. For sure, there is more in store from this young man who has only just begun!
One another happy news that almost went unnoticed was the nomination of three youngsters, Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy and Jehan Darukhanawala, all 13-year-old (and not 14 or 15 as being reported) schoolboys, to Force India's driver development programme that will hand-hold them through various stages to eventually Formula One.
I have been privileged to interact with the three kids during the JK Tyre Rotax karting championship. Watching them belting out laps and winning races was a pleasure if only for the sheer competitiveness that these boys exuded.
In fact, Eddie Jordan who too was involved in the selection process, predicted that one of the three will become a world champion. "I will not name him, but you will hear of him soon," said Jordan who was responsible for Michael Schumacher's F1 debut in 1991.
All this is in sharp contrast to the murky goings-on in cricket. Indeed, the ICC have a problem on their hands with the sport's image taking such a pounding. Those found guilty should be necessarily jailed if only to make an example out of them and to deter others taking the short route to financial success.
It has been just over a decade since the match-fixing serpent came out of the hole and has now embraced cricket in a vice-like grip that could well suffocate the sport unless corrective measures are enforced.
I strongly believe that the latest episode in match-fixing is merely the tip of the iceberg and I am certain that many worms will slither out of the can and also skeletons will walk out of the closet. For sure, cricket is stuck in a quicksand.