Predictably, England won the series by drawing the fourth Test Match in Nagpur. They beat India not only in the three departments of the game, but also through better public relations, friendship and planning. India was beaten on and off the field.
Alastair Cook and his merry band have been remarkable. The earlier MCC/England sides were considered much superior to Indian outfits. They played professional cricket for their livelihood. Most of us Indians in the earlier days were amateurs. Therefore, defeat against the mighty was not a shame and a victory as an individual or a team was applauded with great gusto.
In 1977, when I made my debut against the MCC, we were already 3-0 down. It was not the scoreline that the public was perturbed about, but the dismal individual performance of greats like Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Bedi etc and the margin of defeat. We then went on to win the Bangalore Test match and nearly repeated it in the final one at Mumbai. We finished as winners and were given rousing receptions.
I can still recollect an incident concerning the legendary Geoff Boycott during the Oval Test match in 1979 against England. I was the prankster of the Indian side. I could not be kept silent at most times and was always smiling and joking even during matches. Geoff, a serious and poker-faced English cricketer did not think that the cricket field was a place to hear laughter and made it a point to tell me that.
I diffused it by saying, that he was a professional and I was an amateur and that cricket did not sustain my living.
Since then, this attitude has changed as we are now a side to reckon with, as World Cup winners as well as the No 1 Test side last year.
With the advent of big money and annual contracts, the Indian cricketer has become an employee of the BCCI and is responsible and liable for getting successful results.
Every corporate in India and its CEO faces pressure to show a growth each quarter. This is what stakeholders of a company desire and demand. Similarly, Indian cricket has its spectators and fans as their largest followers. The dice is rolling because of their eyeballs. India cannot be shining if we get beaten in our own backyard. The Indian corporates have shown that they can adapt and perform against foreign insurgents. Dhoni and his team will need to learn from these corporate leaders.
The author is a former India player, who was part of the 1976-77 and 1979 India vs England Test series
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