There is more to cricket than winning!
The U-19 cricket world cup has come and gone and we have a new Champion up there. Bangladesh has done it, beating India. Does not matter that this side was not tipped to scale this high but when it did the joy that unfolded in the country and its followers was unmistakable.
Not surprising because this was the first big achievement for this young nation across all sports and the euphoria can only be expected. Encomiums, awards, recognition and what not, everything began to flow and will continue to come in considering the gigantic nature of the achievement.
Surely the first thing that will happen is a boost to cricket in Bangladesh even as other sports draw some inspiration from this success. Some of the current players in this junior lot, if not all, will surely progress to the next rank and take the country's cricketing fortunes further ahead. The dreams will begin and why not.
This is how Indian cricket has benefited in the past, ever since in fact the U-19 world cup came into focus. India has won the tournament four times and apart from the high of having won a world event, what was the spin off was the high quality cricketers who were ready to get blooded for bigger challenges.
Virat Kohli perhaps was the biggest asset that India senior team gained from this, though the list of great performers stretched from Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma to the current lot of players like Shreyas Iyer, Rahul and Rishabh Pant.
Surely some from the 2020 finalist too would gain. There is already big talk surrounding Yashasvi Jaiswal, the Mumbai lad who was close to being a sensation in this year's edition except that his historic efforts, including a century in the semi-final and another brave knock of 88 in the final could not prove enough to take India onto the podium of victory again.
Indeed, winning is an art in itself. It does not suffice that a team is labelled good or has a perfect balance or comes into the contest with a load of reputation not to speak of history. Indian colts were supposed to represent just that, a winning bunch which seemed to take victory as though it was bound to come.
On the other hand was Bangladesh which has never known the feel of a win in a big event. The hunger was deep within and goaded by the awareness that they were up against their big neighbour, with a sterling record the young lads put in everything. It did not affect them that India had beaten the Pakistani's by ten wickets in the semi-final a result that at once re-emphasised India's pre-eminence in this form of cricket.
Nothing seemed wanting in this Indian squad until the Bangladeshis showed the art of choking their famed rival with some tight bowling and fielding and shall we say aggression, about which little said the better. Unable to muster a big score one's mind raced back to 1983 when in a similar situation, India carved out a historic win. Then it was the unstoppable West Indies who were grounded and in South Africa, Bangladesh did an India-act with the end result same, an explosion of emotions and euphoria!
All that was fine to compare except in one aspect, the big word and perhaps a dirty word in some ways aggression. Sporting gurus always want their wards to be aggressive but basically to ensure the limits of effort never slackened in intensity. They say in contact games say football or hockey, aggressive efforts at times lead to unacceptable moments resulting in chaos.
It has happened in World cup football. How can we forget the way French star Zinedine Zidane head-butted Italian player Marco Materazzi and ended up getting a red card in that charged final in the 2006 edition? Italy went on to win but Zidane's act erupted a volley of reactions, debates and discussions. The irony was that this had happened to what everybody believed was a great footballer in his own right.
Coming to cricket, which is no-contact sport generally it is the verbal volleys that trigger friction. The senior cricketing community has seen this enough and many believe this is the biggest stigma attached to this sport, considered for long as a gentlemen's sport!
To that extent what happened in the aftermath of the final with players' behaviour going out of hand left a bad taste. Different versions emerged initially, even giving an impression that in all this only one side players were the culprits. But cricket today is not like it was in the distant past. Not only is it sport with financial muscle but so popular is it in this part of the world that television cameras make capital of anything and everything on the field.
Suffice to state no act on field escapes the camera eye. That helped ICC to conclude and reprimand three players from Bangladesh and two from India for the unacceptable acts. Wisdom suggests that things should not end there. It behoves on the Cricket Boards, not just Bangladesh and India but all cricket-playing nations to ensure cricket-upbringing also involve character-building. For this is an age where a cricketer not only gets recognised in a short time but even turns into an icon before long.
If cricket in India can have personalities with impeccable record like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, two cricketers who have been a class both on and off the field then there is nothing wrong to believe there can be more like them to don India colours.