5th Column

Cheering them on

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My dear Indian cricket fans,

I want to write to you, firstly to express my commiserations after your country lost the World Cup final on Sunday to the unfancied Australians, but secondly also to perhaps explain why your tiny neighbour was mostly supporting Australia and rejoicing as if we had won the World Cup ourselves.

In fact, last week’s final was eerily similar to the finals of ’96. The team winning the toss sent the opposition in against all advice and they made around 240 runs. Chasing that, the team batting second lost early wickets before someone – Aravinda then, Travis now – scored a century and sealed the win.

The loss would have come as a shock to you after winning all 10 previous games on the trot and hardly breaking a sweat in doing so too. We do have bitter memories of that. You bundled out our chaps for just 55 runs. Our batsmen didn’t know whether they were coming to the crease or leaving it.

Instead of having the finals in the more populous cities of Mumbai, Delhi or Bengaluru, it was held in Ahmedabad, PM Modi’s home patch, in a stadium named after him – and the symbol of his party is the lotus flower! Add to this his nationalist slogans, and we in Paradise see a pattern very familiar to us.

With such a lead up, your loss in the finals must have been a shock to Modi too. He faces an election in a few months. He was relying on the cricketers to deliver a win, so he can bask on the reflected glory of the cricket team, but as they say, the best laid plans of mice, men and Modi went awry.

As you come to terms with your loss, you may be wondering, dear Indian cricket fans, why we in Paradise desperately wanted you to lose against Australia, of all countries. You must think of us as being very ungrateful when it was your country which supported us in our recent economic crisis.

We haven’t forgotten how the Australians tried to wreck Murali’s career and drive him out of the game. We also recall how, when the Aussies refused to travel to Colombo during the ’96 World Cup saying it wasn’t safe, a team from India and Pakistan came and played a game to prove otherwise.

However, times have changed. When Paradise was in turmoil last year and the popular cry was ‘Gota Go Home,’ the Australians were due to tour Paradise. Many thought the tour wouldn’t go ahead. The country was literally at a standstill, with long queues at petrol stations and no way to get around.

The Australians came anyway and we showed our appreciation by turning up in their colours for one of the matches and cheering their team. Most Aussies who played last Sunday were in that team. They would have compared that feeling to the stony silence that greeted Travis Head’s century at the final.

Even if we have got around to not disliking the Australians now, you must be wondering what is it that made us want them to win against you. That is what we want you to understand, Indian cricket fans. We are not against your cricketers but we are against how you ‘remote control’ our cricket.

It’s no secret that India not only controls cricket in your country but also tries to manage it in other countries, because they have more money than the rest of the countries put together. So, thanks to a few pathetic people in Paradise who work with those on your side, we have been ‘suspended’ now.

Our Sports minister tried to change how cricket is run here – which is through Shammi’s Limited Company or SLC. Shammi ran to your bosses and had our cricket suspended. He would rather get the game suspended in Paradise than have someone else take control, such are the spoils he gets from it.

The chaps who run cricket for you, that chap who is the son of Modi’s right-hand man is in the thick of things with Shammi. This is why there was an overnight decision to ‘suspend’ us after reading the letters shady Shammi sent the ICC. They must now change their name to the ‘Indian Cricket Council.’

Isn’t it strange that the ICC would ‘suspend’ us based on a few letters from Shammi, before we can even say ‘Jay Shah,’ without so much as hearing the other side of the story? This is not the first time a minister appointed an ‘Interim Committee’ for cricket here – and we were never suspended before.

Now we are told that a tournament for young cricketers which was due to be held in Paradise has been shifted to South Africa. Well, all the international tournaments staged in Paradise including a World Cup were staged when interim committees were in charge, so that too seems rather odd, isn’t it?

Now Shammi tells us that we can play matches, we just won’t get paid for it. So, it seems that what Shammi says, Shah’s ICC does. Shammi also accuses a ‘naaki legend’ of ruining cricket in Paradise. This ‘naaki legend’ is four years younger than him, so that would make Shammi senile!

This is our fault, putting people who have their own interests at heart, instead of their country’s, in charge of cricket. So, we see the hidden hand of your administrators interfering in the game here. That is why, Indian cricket fans, most of us supported Australia on Sunday. We hope you understand.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: We have fond memories of those such as Sunny and Sachin who were true ambassadors for India. One day, we will respect your cricket again. For now, we are proud that the West Indies under Sir Clive Lloyd and Sri Lanka under Arjuna are the only teams to beat the Aussies in a World Cup final!