I was looking at yesterday’s post that called on India to dominate New Zealand, and I started to feel a bit embarrassed. While I’ve enjoyed India’s recent success as much as anyone else, I’ve also had qualms about whether or not we’ve lost a certain “Indian” method of winning, taking too many pages from the Australian cookbook. During the 2007 India-Australia series, for instance, I was particularly irked when the Indian media urged the team to respond tit-for-tat to any perceived Australian sledge. If they do it, the argument went, we can do it even better!
I wonder, though, if the Indian brand of cricket — an attritional, patient game that respects draws and fate and also relies on crumbling pitches and wily spinners — has been lost in the modern age. When we want higher run rates and better fast bowling attacks, are we needlessly losing our own distinctive style?
Perhaps one reason Australia finds its own dominance questioned lately relates to the fact that all the top teams have learned Australia’s tricks — witness Munaf Patel’s bowling action, for instance, a carbon-copy of Glenn McGrath’s, or M.S. Dhoni, the attacking-wicketkeeper-batsman of Gilchrist mold.
Anand Giridharadas had a piece in the New York Times the other week about empires rubbing values off subject nations. He was talking about America and India, but I think it’s applicable in this discussion as well:
When empires wane, they live on, as the political scientist David Singh Grewal has argued, by embedding their values, systems and standards in a presumptive heir, as ancient Greece did through Rome and as Britain has done through the United States. Should it falter in due course, might America achieve the same through India — the preservation at least of the American idea and way of life?
Does this matter at all? I think it does. As I asked in an earlier post about sledging:
Instead, we hear the common refrain: if the West can do it, why can’t we? But while we are beating them at their own game, when exactly do we get to play our own?