Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Great Rivalry?

Homer has pointed out the prophetic words of Uncle J Rod: Great sporting rivalries can’t be manufactured by administrators, they need to be fuelled by arrogance, cheating, choking, cockiness, sh1t hot performances and twats.

Great words of wisdom. The BCCI tried to manufacture a rivalry and almost, but not quite, succeeded. I have very good reasons to believe that this was actually manufactured. A great rivalry means more money, and I cannot believe that the BCCI were not quick to spot this marketing technique to create a rivalry.

The seeds were sown during the one day series in India. No one really cared about the matches. It was just a testing ground. The real action was to be in Australia.

Melbourne was just a starter, Australia humped India like the lords they are, and India barely blinked before it realized it had been had. The marketing machinery kick-started in Sydney. The Australians behaved like twats. Then they claimed that the Indians were behaving like twats. The umpires, not to be outdone, joined in. The match referee, not sure what the fuss was all about, decided that it was fun anyway, and went along. And the Indians claimed the moral high. Everyone hated the Australians at that point. Phase one accomplished.

The Indians took their cue at this point, and threatened to boycott the tour. The BCCI, ever the master of the misleading word, supported the players and claimed that there were other things more important than money. Surprisingly, the world fell hook, line and sinker for that. Now it was the turn of the Indians to become the hated party. Phase two accomplished.

Suddenly, Australia realized that the cute chick they had been eying was visiting, and like most school children, were on their best behaviour. And India took advantage and steamrolled Australia at Perth! (By Australian standards, that was a steamroll!) The euphoria of a victory at Perth drowned all other emotions. Most Australians were relieved that their team lost. Some others tried to play foot soldiers of the BCCI and duly blamed umpiring errors for the loss. But the signs were there, phase three was not going as expected.

And it all came apart in Adelaide. A typical Adelaide wicket with no third innings collapse led to a boring game. And the Australians continued to be on their best behaviour even though the girl had left long ago. And so, Indians (I generalize from a sample size of one!) now cannot be bothered to hate the Australians. And the idea of a great sporting rivalry is now left hanging by a thread. Unless they start behaving like arrogant twats again during the one dayers. For you see, it is just not a great rivalry if half the time the opposition tries to make sure you dont hate them.

However, as surely as I can identify the back of my palm, the BCCI will switch to plan B. In fact, plan B is already in action. Justice Hansen found the charge against Bhajji not proven, as Bhajji, very smartly, made his own words indecipherable. The Australian players are furious. Expect some rowdy action during the one dayers. Enough to keep the teams and fans simmering till October. Further, the BCCI, with a typical nudge-nudge message, has asked the franchise owners of the IPL to go easy on Australian player signings. Expect more fuel in April.

The prospect of a great rivalry is not dead yet. And no matter what Uncle J Rod says, in my book, this one has a directed by BCCI stamp all over it! The genius!