What a brilliant performance from our athletes at the Commonwealth Games! The best part was that a lot of the medal-winners bettered their previous bests and set new bar for themselves.
There were many winners in different categories. Of course, each sport has its own challenges, but the performance of Sharath Kamal in table tennis was simply mind-blowing. To win a gold medal in such a fast sport is tough enough, but to do it at the age of 40 is simply sensational. It’s not just a tribute to his talent but to his dedication, determination and discipline, and above all, to his dream to excel. He is not just a legend but a super legend, and deserves every accolade that he gets.
The change in attitude in Indian sports over the years has been amazing. No longer are our athletes going to such mega events merely to participate. They are going there to win, and that’s so refreshing. Kudos to all those who have made this mental transformation possible. There is, of course, disappointment when our athletes don’t win, but no longer that despair of earlier times when sports lovers would question why our athletes would be sent to such big events if they had zero chance of winning a medal.
Our cricket team has once again covered itself in glory by beating the West Indies comfortably in the white-ball formats. That they did so without some of our major stars is even more heartening as it shows the depth of talent there is in the country. West Indies may not be the destructive team they were a couple of decades ago but they are still the only team that has won the ICC T20 World Cup twice. They are always a dangerous side and that’s why this comprehensive win does boost the Indian team’s chances of greater glory in the next few months.
It was sad to read the West Indies coach saying he can’t beg players to play for the West Indies. Many top West Indies players were not available for the series against India for a variety of reasons and so they were not at full strength. But even then, to see them lose by the margins they did was shocking. In the final T20 game, they lost all their wickets to the Indian spinners playing some truly forgettable couldn’t-care-less shots to give India a huge win.
Like most countries, Cricket West Indies has some of its players on a retainer contract. If some of those players make themselves unavailable for playing when they are not injured, then the cricket board should look at cutting down the amount in the contract. After all, the contract is to ensure that the player is available to play for the West Indies. If he makes himself unavailable, he should be prepared to accept a cut in the contract amount.
Knowing the West Indian temperament, if there is a guaranteed amount in the contract, then there is no incentive to go above and beyond the call of duty. The earlier generations of great West Indies players had the Test match fee as the major source of their income and so would give it their fiercest best so they could play in the next Test match and earn some more. Now, with income guaranteed thanks to the retainer, it hardly makes a difference to the player whether he scores only a few runs and takes no wickets or drops catches. He will get his contracted fee even if he is dropped for the next few games.
Perhaps the answer could be in doing away with the retainer and instead increasing the match fee manifold so the player gives his best so as to be selected for the next match.
It’s not an easy call to make in these times and in a region where each island is an independent country with its own currency. The cricket world needs the West Indies team for the special flair they bring to the game. They are crowd pleasers and crowd pullers and that’s why it’s in everyone’s interest to see the game flourish there.